When conservation becomes dangerous

Human-Crocodile conflict in Timor-Leste

Sebastian Brackhane, Grahame Webb, Flaminio M.E. Xavier, Marcal Gusmao, Peter Pechacek

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    In northern Australia and nearby Timor-Leste, saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) populations were seriously depleted historically but recovered rapidly after protection: 1969–1974 in northern Australia, and 2000–2005 in Timor-Leste. In both places, recovery caused increased rates of human-crocodile conflict (HCC). Within northern Australia, the crocodile recovery and HCC have been documented over time. In contrast, this has not been the situation in Timor-Leste, where we investigated HCC based on 130 attack records (1996–2014; 52% fatal). In 1996–2006, 0.55 attacks/year were reported in Timor-Leste. By 2007–2014, 9 years later, a 23-fold increase had occurred (13 attacks/year). Traditional subsistence fishing (82.5% of all attack records) is the highest risk activity, followed by bathing (7.5%) and water collecting (4.2%). Although the human population was correlated with crocodile attacks in Timor-Leste, it likely does not explain the dramatic increase in crocodile attacks. Alternatively, crocodile numbers may have increased, either in the remnant resident crocodile population, or via migrants from elsewhere. Permanent crocodile habitat is limited, and limited breeding does not explain the high number of large crocodiles, and consequent increase in attacks in such a short time. A plausible explanation, consistent with traditional knowledge in Timor-Leste, is that the influx of large crocodiles attacking people are migrants from Australia. We examined this possibility from available sources. Within Australia crocodiles have recovered since protection and they regularly invade adjacent habitats, such as Darwin harbor, where they are removed to prevent attacks on people. Saltwater crocodiles have been sighted at oil rigs, in the open ocean, moving between northern Australia and the south coast of Timor-Leste. The likelihood of crocodiles migrating from Australia to Timor-Leste raises obvious conservation, moral, and ethical dilemmas when conserving a large dangerous predator in one country to increase abundance results in dispersal to another country, where the predator attacks and kills people.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1332-1344
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of Wildlife Management
    Volume82
    Issue number7
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018

    Fingerprint

    East Timor
    crocodiles
    Crocodylus porosus
    conflict
    crocodile
    predators
    predator
    indigenous knowledge
    harbors (waterways)
    habitats

    Cite this

    Brackhane, S., Webb, G., Xavier, F. M. E., Gusmao, M., & Pechacek, P. (2018). When conservation becomes dangerous: Human-Crocodile conflict in Timor-Leste. Journal of Wildlife Management, 82(7), 1332-1344. https://doi.org/10.1002/jwmg.21497
    Brackhane, Sebastian ; Webb, Grahame ; Xavier, Flaminio M.E. ; Gusmao, Marcal ; Pechacek, Peter. / When conservation becomes dangerous : Human-Crocodile conflict in Timor-Leste. In: Journal of Wildlife Management. 2018 ; Vol. 82, No. 7. pp. 1332-1344.
    @article{515a078939854fbe87ce1d8102a97016,
    title = "When conservation becomes dangerous: Human-Crocodile conflict in Timor-Leste",
    abstract = "In northern Australia and nearby Timor-Leste, saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) populations were seriously depleted historically but recovered rapidly after protection: 1969–1974 in northern Australia, and 2000–2005 in Timor-Leste. In both places, recovery caused increased rates of human-crocodile conflict (HCC). Within northern Australia, the crocodile recovery and HCC have been documented over time. In contrast, this has not been the situation in Timor-Leste, where we investigated HCC based on 130 attack records (1996–2014; 52{\%} fatal). In 1996–2006, 0.55 attacks/year were reported in Timor-Leste. By 2007–2014, 9 years later, a 23-fold increase had occurred (13 attacks/year). Traditional subsistence fishing (82.5{\%} of all attack records) is the highest risk activity, followed by bathing (7.5{\%}) and water collecting (4.2{\%}). Although the human population was correlated with crocodile attacks in Timor-Leste, it likely does not explain the dramatic increase in crocodile attacks. Alternatively, crocodile numbers may have increased, either in the remnant resident crocodile population, or via migrants from elsewhere. Permanent crocodile habitat is limited, and limited breeding does not explain the high number of large crocodiles, and consequent increase in attacks in such a short time. A plausible explanation, consistent with traditional knowledge in Timor-Leste, is that the influx of large crocodiles attacking people are migrants from Australia. We examined this possibility from available sources. Within Australia crocodiles have recovered since protection and they regularly invade adjacent habitats, such as Darwin harbor, where they are removed to prevent attacks on people. Saltwater crocodiles have been sighted at oil rigs, in the open ocean, moving between northern Australia and the south coast of Timor-Leste. The likelihood of crocodiles migrating from Australia to Timor-Leste raises obvious conservation, moral, and ethical dilemmas when conserving a large dangerous predator in one country to increase abundance results in dispersal to another country, where the predator attacks and kills people.",
    keywords = "ancestor worship, biological dispersal, Crocodylus porosus, human-crocodile conflict, Timor-Leste",
    author = "Sebastian Brackhane and Grahame Webb and Xavier, {Flaminio M.E.} and Marcal Gusmao and Peter Pechacek",
    year = "2018",
    month = "9",
    day = "1",
    doi = "10.1002/jwmg.21497",
    language = "English",
    volume = "82",
    pages = "1332--1344",
    journal = "Journal of Wildlife Management",
    issn = "0022-541X",
    publisher = "Wildlife Management Society",
    number = "7",

    }

    Brackhane, S, Webb, G, Xavier, FME, Gusmao, M & Pechacek, P 2018, 'When conservation becomes dangerous: Human-Crocodile conflict in Timor-Leste', Journal of Wildlife Management, vol. 82, no. 7, pp. 1332-1344. https://doi.org/10.1002/jwmg.21497

    When conservation becomes dangerous : Human-Crocodile conflict in Timor-Leste. / Brackhane, Sebastian; Webb, Grahame; Xavier, Flaminio M.E.; Gusmao, Marcal; Pechacek, Peter.

    In: Journal of Wildlife Management, Vol. 82, No. 7, 01.09.2018, p. 1332-1344.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - When conservation becomes dangerous

    T2 - Human-Crocodile conflict in Timor-Leste

    AU - Brackhane, Sebastian

    AU - Webb, Grahame

    AU - Xavier, Flaminio M.E.

    AU - Gusmao, Marcal

    AU - Pechacek, Peter

    PY - 2018/9/1

    Y1 - 2018/9/1

    N2 - In northern Australia and nearby Timor-Leste, saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) populations were seriously depleted historically but recovered rapidly after protection: 1969–1974 in northern Australia, and 2000–2005 in Timor-Leste. In both places, recovery caused increased rates of human-crocodile conflict (HCC). Within northern Australia, the crocodile recovery and HCC have been documented over time. In contrast, this has not been the situation in Timor-Leste, where we investigated HCC based on 130 attack records (1996–2014; 52% fatal). In 1996–2006, 0.55 attacks/year were reported in Timor-Leste. By 2007–2014, 9 years later, a 23-fold increase had occurred (13 attacks/year). Traditional subsistence fishing (82.5% of all attack records) is the highest risk activity, followed by bathing (7.5%) and water collecting (4.2%). Although the human population was correlated with crocodile attacks in Timor-Leste, it likely does not explain the dramatic increase in crocodile attacks. Alternatively, crocodile numbers may have increased, either in the remnant resident crocodile population, or via migrants from elsewhere. Permanent crocodile habitat is limited, and limited breeding does not explain the high number of large crocodiles, and consequent increase in attacks in such a short time. A plausible explanation, consistent with traditional knowledge in Timor-Leste, is that the influx of large crocodiles attacking people are migrants from Australia. We examined this possibility from available sources. Within Australia crocodiles have recovered since protection and they regularly invade adjacent habitats, such as Darwin harbor, where they are removed to prevent attacks on people. Saltwater crocodiles have been sighted at oil rigs, in the open ocean, moving between northern Australia and the south coast of Timor-Leste. The likelihood of crocodiles migrating from Australia to Timor-Leste raises obvious conservation, moral, and ethical dilemmas when conserving a large dangerous predator in one country to increase abundance results in dispersal to another country, where the predator attacks and kills people.

    AB - In northern Australia and nearby Timor-Leste, saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) populations were seriously depleted historically but recovered rapidly after protection: 1969–1974 in northern Australia, and 2000–2005 in Timor-Leste. In both places, recovery caused increased rates of human-crocodile conflict (HCC). Within northern Australia, the crocodile recovery and HCC have been documented over time. In contrast, this has not been the situation in Timor-Leste, where we investigated HCC based on 130 attack records (1996–2014; 52% fatal). In 1996–2006, 0.55 attacks/year were reported in Timor-Leste. By 2007–2014, 9 years later, a 23-fold increase had occurred (13 attacks/year). Traditional subsistence fishing (82.5% of all attack records) is the highest risk activity, followed by bathing (7.5%) and water collecting (4.2%). Although the human population was correlated with crocodile attacks in Timor-Leste, it likely does not explain the dramatic increase in crocodile attacks. Alternatively, crocodile numbers may have increased, either in the remnant resident crocodile population, or via migrants from elsewhere. Permanent crocodile habitat is limited, and limited breeding does not explain the high number of large crocodiles, and consequent increase in attacks in such a short time. A plausible explanation, consistent with traditional knowledge in Timor-Leste, is that the influx of large crocodiles attacking people are migrants from Australia. We examined this possibility from available sources. Within Australia crocodiles have recovered since protection and they regularly invade adjacent habitats, such as Darwin harbor, where they are removed to prevent attacks on people. Saltwater crocodiles have been sighted at oil rigs, in the open ocean, moving between northern Australia and the south coast of Timor-Leste. The likelihood of crocodiles migrating from Australia to Timor-Leste raises obvious conservation, moral, and ethical dilemmas when conserving a large dangerous predator in one country to increase abundance results in dispersal to another country, where the predator attacks and kills people.

    KW - ancestor worship

    KW - biological dispersal

    KW - Crocodylus porosus

    KW - human-crocodile conflict

    KW - Timor-Leste

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85052115432&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    U2 - 10.1002/jwmg.21497

    DO - 10.1002/jwmg.21497

    M3 - Article

    VL - 82

    SP - 1332

    EP - 1344

    JO - Journal of Wildlife Management

    JF - Journal of Wildlife Management

    SN - 0022-541X

    IS - 7

    ER -