Commercial harvests of saltwater crocodile Crocodylus porosus eggs by Indigenous people in northern Australia: lessons for long-term viability and management

Ben Corey, G. J.W. Webb, S. Charlie Manolis, A. Fordham, B. J. Austin, Yusuke Fukuda, D Nicholls, K Saalfeld

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Sustainable commercial use of native wildlife is an alternative economic means of land use by Indigenous people in remote rural areas. This situation applies within large tracts of land owned by Indigenous people across northern Australia. The commercial use of saltwater crocodiles Crocodylus porosus is a growing industry in Australia's Northern Territory. Although Indigenous people sell crocodile eggs and hatchlings, the majority of harvesting and incubation is done by non-indigenous people from less remote areas. One Indigenous community has been heavily involved in this industry and now manages its own harvest and incubation programme. We present a case study of this programme, which has transitioned from outside agencies managing the harvest, to complete local ownership and management. Egg harvests and incubation success rates declined by 40% following the switch to local management. Income increased, as did production costs; in particular, royalty payments made to Indigenous landowners. The declines reflect the community's motives for engaging in the industry, which have been socially rather than commercially driven, and damage to nesting habitat by feral animals. The increase in royalties reflects the need to compete with non-indigenous harvesters from outside the township, who are strictly commercially driven. Harvesting, incubation and trade in crocodile eggs and hatchlings can form a viable and sustainable enterprise for remote Indigenous communities. However, efficiency needs to be improved to fulfil the need for a reliable and dependable supply chain, and regulatory institutions should give Indigenous harvesters sufficient freedom to pursue innovative and viable livelihood options.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)697-708
    Number of pages12
    JournalOryx
    Volume52
    Issue number4
    Early online date13 Jun 2017
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Commercial harvests of saltwater crocodile Crocodylus porosus eggs by Indigenous people in northern Australia: lessons for long-term viability and management'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Corey, B., Webb, G. J. W., Manolis, S. C., Fordham, A., Austin, B. J., Fukuda, Y., Nicholls, D., & Saalfeld, K. (2018). Commercial harvests of saltwater crocodile Crocodylus porosus eggs by Indigenous people in northern Australia: lessons for long-term viability and management. Oryx, 52(4), 697-708. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0030605317000217