Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Crocodilus domesticus

April 1st, 2011

Domcroc - web

Estuarine. Saltwater. All different species of crocodilus. Crocodiles. To which, quite a few million years later, has been added crocodilus domesticus. Rarely growing to more than a metre in length, this genetically engineered critter makes for a very robust, if unusual, pet.

Like a parrot, its longevity – it’s very likely to outlive you – means you’d be wise to provide for it in your Will. Chlorine tolerant, any need for a specially constructed habitat is avoided. A small outdoor swimming pool being more than sufficient. And its passive, if playful, nature makes it ideal for small children. Always a favourite for pool parties.

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Far from home

March 22nd, 2011

Antonia - web

"Mad dogs" she’d said. Greeting me as I’d emerged from the unrelenting torrential rain. Bedraggled. But warm. I’d been tempted off the highway by the chance to escape the weather. Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures. Curious to know what it’d cost to visit. Unwilling to give up easily on footage of a croc close up. Even if that had to be in the relative artificiality of a farm.

No need to enquire. Antonia quick to offer a generous discount. Simply for having the gumption to ride along the highway, she explained. As welcome as the coffee that followed. I was keen to press on after a short respite from the weather. Campsite to find. But planned to return the next day. When there’d also be somewhere secure to leave my trusty steed. In the care of a fellow Lancastrian. A Scouser. Been Down Under since the Eighties. But her accent unmistakable.

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Synchronised swimming

March 19th, 2011

Synch - web

Crocodile synchronised swimming team. Despite their lack of elegance and closely cut swimsuits, unopposed winners. Even in their first season. Rival teams disappearing without trace.

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Snap happy

March 18th, 2011

Snap happy from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ok. Had to resort to visiting a crocodile farm to get this footage. But worth it I think. Besides, would you like to try and tease out crocodiles in the wild with chicken pieces?

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Silent killer

March 17th, 2011

Silent killer from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Evolution at its best. Chances are these critters will be around long after the human race is a mere footnote in history.

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Search continues

February 23rd, 2011

Search continues from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken continues in his quest to capture wild crocodiles… on film. Even if it kills him….

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Back on dry land

February 20th, 2011

Back on dry land from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Simple enough to find crocodiles in captivity. Local zoo. Even a couple of farms where they breed the predators. But a bit too touristy for my liking. Wanted to see them in the wild. After all, that’d be where I’d be camping. Reckon if you know how to find them, you’ll learn how to avoid them. It’s a theory.

Rowan, my very experienced guide with an intimate knowledge of the river, had spotted a croc basking on the bank in the late afternoon sun as we’d headed upstream. But, spooked by the boat’s engine, it’d disappeared before I’d chance to get it on camera.

Returning downstream in the dark, it’d been much easier to hunt down the predators. Emerging to feed. Kneeling in the bow of our metal boat – an inflatable probably not a good idea – I’d a powerful torch to scan the water’s edge. Looking for the very distinctive, unmistakable, red reflective glow of their eyes.

Along a three mile stretch of river found eight sets of eyes. Got within feet of one. Small. Maybe a metre long. Close in to the bank. Alas, its shadowy silhouette far too dark to capture on camera. Scared? Adrenalin flowing certainly. Excited. Very aware these are cunning, crafty creatures. Probably why they’ve been around for so long. To be treated with respect. Fall into the water and you risk serious injury, even death.

If I was a bit nervous it was back at the slipway. For someone has to jump into the water to pull the boat up. And that’d be me. Rowan at the helm. Very careful to scan around with the torch. Looking for red eyes. Water may be shallow but crocs don’t exactly have a deep draft. And they’d know it’d be a place where people inevitably dump old bait into the water. Tempting morsels.

[Author’s note: This was no amateurish river trip. Rather, Ken went with an experienced local guide. And a thanks to Jon for sending me an article about how to try and fend off crocodiles if you do inadvertently fall into the water. Others had suggested I try local nightclubs..]

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Deliverance

February 18th, 2011

Deliverance from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken heads up the Barron river. In search of crocodiles. In the wild. And a spot of fishing.

[Author’s note: With especial thanks to Rowan – at the helm – my very experienced guide]

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Crocodile rock

January 30th, 2011

Crocsign - web

I’ve nothing but admiration for crocodiles. Evolutionary design classic. Doesn’t claim to be man’s best friend. No aspirations to be fluffy or cuddly. Rather, it simply does what it says on the tin. And does it rather well. A ruthless predator.

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Perceptions

January 15th, 2011

I’m sure his words were heartfelt. The offer of condolences to those who’ve lost loved ones quite genuine. Sincere. But as a reflection on how the Queensland floods are perceived around the world. Intriguing.

I’d been catching up on BBC coverage of the disaster. Watching an interview with a well known British public figure. Bit heavy on the crocodiles, although, to be fair, not that many of them around Balmoral so you could see how they might grab the attention. In all probability, if you do encounter one in Brisbane, chances are it’ll be somewhere between the elephants and the orangutans. In the zoo.

A much more credible threat is waterborne diseases. Waterlogged ground ideal breeding ground for mosquitos. Which accounts for quite a bit of Queensland. Fortunately, this is one of the few parts of the Tropics free of malaria. But no one would be surprised if Dengue Fever put in an appearance.

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