A crocodile is being hunted by Australian police as they believe the animal snatched a 12-year-old boy while he was swimming with his friends.
Police officers have been given orders to shoot any crocodile more than eight feet long in a bid to find the boy’s remains. They have so far killed two of the animals but neither had anything in their stomachs.
Northern Territory Police said in a statement the boy was swimming in the Mudginberri Billabong, a creek in the Kakadu National Park, in Australia’s Northern Territory. They said they believe the boy was taken at 2:15 p.m. Saturday.
Saltwater crocodiles are the largest living reptiles on Earth
“It is believed the 12-year-old boy was taken by a crocodile as he and a number of other young boys were swimming in the billabong,” Acting Commander Michael White said.
Another boy, also 12, suffered severe bites to both arms fighting off the beast. Police believe the “saltie” – as the sometimes salt-water animals are known in Australia – then dragged his friend under the water.
Saltwater crocodiles are the largest living reptiles on Earth and can grow up to 23 feet and 2,200 pounds. They have gained a reputation as a man-eater and can live in freshwater, brackish, or saltwater.
French Yoann Galeran has managed to escape a saltwater crocodile that latched on to his head as he swam in Australia’s Northern Territory.
Yoann Galeran, 29, said he was “very lucky” to have survived the attack.
He was swimming from shore in the remote town of Nhulunbuy to retrieve a dinghy when the crocodile – estimated to be 8ft in length – attacked him on Sunday.
The Frenchman needed stitches for bite wounds on his head, neck and shoulders.
Yoann Galeran, a deckhand, said he kept punching the crocodile as it tried to roll and drown him.
“It went straight away to the top of my head and diving under the water he tried to do that spinning thing,” he said.
Yoann Galeran has managed to escape a saltwater crocodile that latched on to his head as he swam in Australia’s Northern Territory
But he fought his way free and made it to the dinghy, and then back to shore.
“I just feel that I’ve been lucky and I just think [if it was] a bigger crocodile, I maybe wouldn’t have any head,” he told ABC News.
A Northern Territory official echoed Yoann Galeran’s sentiment, saying the outcome could have been “a lot more dire”.
Lisa Heathcote, Yoann Galeran’s boss, said the crocodile had been in the area for weeks.
“We’ve walked out on the back deck and Jo’s [Yoann] standing there with a big grin on his face and blood pouring out of him,” Lisa Heathcote told ABC News.
Fatal attacks in Australia by saltwater crocodiles – a protected species since the 1970s – remain rare.
But the crocodiles are especially abundant in the Northern Territory, where deadly encounters have been reported.
A boy was killed in December after he was dragged into the water by a crocodile at a swimming spot. Weeks before the incident, human remains were found in a crocodile’s stomach in the state after a girl disappeared.