Crocodiles & Muppet Pollies with Damian Duffy
In this Interview In Depth lesson, we’re going to study a portion of the AE 408 interview with Damian Duffy about crocs, muppet pollies, and the legend of Wildman.
Read and listen to the full interview here.
How to complete this lesson:
- Listen & read
- Complete the quizzes
AE 408 – Crocs, Muppet Pollies, & the Legend of Wildman with Damian Duffy
Red text – Aussie slang
Blue text – Lesson vocab
And what’s it like, yeah, getting up close and personal with crocs? You recommend that as a good experience, I take it? Nothing like it?
You’re exactly right, mate. When I was working in North Queensland I was feeding four-meter crocodiles with nothing in front of me, hanging a bit of chicken in a wildlife park so that was phenomenal. But, and now, I’m working on the river with them. It’s totally different in the wild, because they… the captive crocodiles, although they still have all the wild instincts, they’re a captive animal, and they just go through the motions of the show, and whatnot, but when you’re out on the river, you’re not always interacting with them, a lot of the time you’re just observing their behaviours, and explaining their behaviours to other people, and we’re watching these crocodiles out in the river interact with each other, interact with the environment around them, including potential prey items. They go and fend for themselves. They don’t rely on us for food. They take advantage of it, but it’s not uncommon to see one of the crocodiles swim around with a pig or a wallaby.
And so, what are your thoughts currently with the numbers of them too? ‘Cause I know, since like, about the 70s they’ve come right back, right? They‘ve shot up. But then, now we have politicians like Katter, who are saying we need to cull them again after they were all closely, you know, hunted to extinction. What are your thoughts on that?
Well, in the past I’m pretty sure I’ve made my thoughts on Katter quite clear. He just… he bases none of his argument on scientific fact. It’s all scare tactics and fearmongering, and using words like “infestation“, “plague proportions“. He’s trying to say this is a fatality every year, and… but then he goes off and goes, “Oh, Queensland is getting ripped to pieces and there’s no way safe to swim”. It’s an absolute load of rubbish, and there’s a enough… bunch of people that have jumped on the bandwagon saying, “Oh we can’t go swimming anywhere any more”. Now, I can tell you what a dozen places, off the top of your head, where you can swim safely, not to mention the lagoon and a flipping swimming pool, you know?
That’s it. Your own bath.
I guess, if you’re that hard up run a cool bath, but everyone’s got a swimming pool in North Queensland, you’ve got the manmade lagoon, but the numbers were up around half a million before the shooting era. Then, between the early 30s and 70s, they dropped in around 3000.
That’s right, they almost got exterminated, right?
Almost, almost right out of this country. So, at a rough estimate, and I say very rough estimate, numbers are between 250-350,000, that’s the experts reckon. But they’re currently doing a study to ascertain how many there actually are in the country now. But their numbers are far lower than half a million. So, you can still fit, let’s say 100… another 150,000 crocodiles in comfortably, before they have a natural density. And I’ve never understood this concept of humans wanting to manage the environment. These animals have been around for 100 million years in their current form doing just fine. Never were they overpopulated. Never were they in a plague proportion, or an infestation, or never were they damaging the environment around them.
On the contrary, they’re very, very important as an apex predator for their environment. So, for a human to go, “Nup! We should manage them”… well, no mate. They manage themselves. And as human beings, we need to manage ourselves. Yeah? I do agree with if there’s a crocodile in suburbia, going up a suburban creek, like, and there’s a three-metre a crocodile there, it’s got to be removed, because that is a very immediate danger, and it’s gone right up into the middle where people live. But, if you’re living out in the bush on a cane farm or if you’re living in a rural area and there’s crocodiles around you need to be aware of that and manage yourself, and if you do so correctly, you’ll never ever get attacked by a crocodile.
It seems like.
So, basically, I think that’s a really long way of saying Bob Katter is muppet.
I don’t know, it always seemed like one of these things, it’s kind of like a murder happens in Melbourne and it’s, “What’s the answer? Oh, we’ll just cull 10 percent of the population.” You’re like, that didn’t solve anything, like… But, so, what would an Australia look like without crocs?
It’d have a pretty serious impact on the ecosystem, and because they’re an apex predator, so, not only do they keep their own numbers in check to a degree. You’ve got crocodiles eating other crocodiles, which they do. Only one percent of crocodiles survive anyway from being an egg to adult. But crocodiles, young crocodiles, their eggs provide a food source for goannas and snakes. And then, once they’re born, they provide a food source for fish, snakes, other crocodiles, sharks, birds, then once they get older, it’s kind of more the bigger animals like your sharks that’ll get them. And then, once they’re a little bit bigger, crocodiles do potentially eat each other. They are opportunistic and cannibalistic. So, they’re a food source not only for themselves, but for the environment around them, but they keep other animals in check. They also are beneficial to, let’s say, fish numbers, because where crocodiles hang around, they hang around near fish nurseries and they’ll prey on animals that eat fish eggs. So, if you’ve got crocodiles preying on them, less of them are taking the amount of fish eggs, therefore, where you’ve got crocodiles, you’ve got more fish. Everything in nature has a balance, and it’s a delicate balance. If you remove a big puzzle piece out of there, everything else… it might not happen overnight, it might not happen in two months or six months or a year, but you will definitely notice a cascading effect and things will fall apart. They really will.
I think they showed that in Yosemite National Park, right? When they got rid of the wolves and the deer just went nuts and destroyed the land. Like, just trampled all the plants, the grasses weren’t growing properly, the rivers actually changed their courses as a result, and then once they reintroduce the wolves, they were like, “Oh, look, everything’s back in balance now”. And it’s kind of like… “Well, you need the guys at the top there”, right? Yeah.
I think it’s something similar that’s has happened with the dingoes, mate. Because where they took dingoes out of the area they had a lot of problems, and now they’ve reintroduced dingoes in some areas. They’re attacking the wild dogs that are attacking the cattle. The cattle are getting attacked a lot less, because the dingoes don’t see ’em as food. And a lot of the feral animals, like foxes and rabbits and cats, their numbers are dropping, because that’s what the dingoes are eating. That’s been established in this country for thousands of years. They’re natural apex predator here now, and they’re important, they’re part of the ecosystem. So, don’t take them out. Utilise them for what they’re here to do, to get rid of the actual feral animals.
ST = something
SW = somewhere
SO = someone
A behaviour – the way in which an animal or person behaves in response to a particular situation or stimulus
- Digging a mound to lay eggs in is a behaviour that crocs do.
A cascading effect – an inevitable and sometimes unforeseen chain of events due to an act affecting a system
- If you removed dingoes from the Australian bush there’d be a cascading effect on the rest of the ecosystem.
A croc – a crocodile
- Crocs will leave you alone if you treat them with respect.
A dingo – a native Australian wild dog
- There’re dingoes living on Fraser Island.
A feral animal – a non-native animal that is a pest
- Cats are a feral animal in Australia.
A fish nursery – a location where fish hatch from their eggs and spend the initial stage of their life growing
- Estuaries often act as fish nurseries.
A food source – something that can be used as food
- Fish are a food source for sharks.
A natural density – the natural number of organisms that can exist in a location
- What’s the natural density of dingoes in this area?
A prey item – an organism that can be a source of prey for another organism
- Birds are also prey items that crocs will go after.
A scare tactic – a strategy intended to manipulate public opinion about a particular issue by arousing fear or alarm
- That politician is using scare tactics to garner support.
A very immediate danger – something that is a direct danger to something else in that moment
- If you go for a swim in a river with crocs, they will be a very immediate danger.
An absolute load of rubbish – something that isn’t true; nonsense – used to refute what someone has said and suggest it is all nonsense
- What that pollie said is a complete load of rubbish.
An apex predator – the predator at the top (the apex) of a food chain
- Crocs and sharks are apex predators.
An ecosystem – a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment
- The ecosystem needs crocs to stay in balance.
An infestation – the presence of an unusually large number of insects or animals in a place, typically so as to cause damage or disease
- This place has an infestation of mosquitos.
And whatnot – and so on; and stuff like that – used to refer to an item or items that are no identified but are felt to have something in common with items already named
- I’m going to buy some beer, wine, whiskey, and whatnot.
Ascertain ST – find ST out for certain; make sure of ST
- The police want to ascertain what happened at the crime scene.
Be hard up – short of money or in a very difficult situation
- If you’re hard up, I can lend you some money.
Beneficial to ST – resulting in good; favourable or advantageous
- Staying out of the water when there are crocs is beneficial to your safety.
Cannibalistic – the eating of the flesh of an animal by another animal of the same kind
- Crocs and sharks are sometimes cannibalistic.
Captive – imprisoned or confined; in captivity
- Captive animals tend to behaviour differently from wild animals.
Cattle – cows and oxen
- This farm has a lot of cattle on it.
Cull ST – reduce the population of (a wild animal) by selective slaughter
- There’re too many kangaroos on this farm so they’re going to cull some of them.
Don’t see ‘em as food – don’t consider them to be food
- Crocs don’t often see insects as food.
Establish – having existed or done ST for a long time
- Dingoes have been established in Australia for 4,000 years.
Exterminate ST – destroy completely; wipe out
- We need to exterminate all feral animal species.
Fearmongering – the action of deliberately arousing public fear or alarm about a particular issue
- The pollie used fearmongering to gather support from the public.
Fend for oneself – take care of and provide for oneself without depending on anything else
- When my son was 18 he moved out and fended for himself.
Get rid of ST – remove ST; throw ST out
- We want to get rid of the cane toad pest species.
Get up close and personal with ST – near experience with ST or SO; intimately
- I’ve never gotten up close and personal with a shark in the water.
Go nuts – go crazy – in this case, I’m using it to suggest the deer numbers exploded and they destroyed the environment
- My pet cats went nuts at home and destroyed my lounge room.
Go through the motions of ST – do ST perfunctorily, without any enthusiasm or commitment
- I go through the motions of working every day.
Happen overnight – happen incredibly soon or quickly
- Losing weight from exercise doesn’t just happen overnight.
Hunt ST to extinction – hunt an animal to the point that it no longer exists
- The dodo was a species of bird that was hunted to extinction.
In the bush – in the forest or remote areas away from civilisation in Australia
- I’d love to live out in the bush in Australia.
Jump on the bandwagon – join an activity that has become very popular or to change your opinion to one that has become very popular so that you can share in its success
- This pollie’s just jumping on the bandwagon regarding this issue in order to win votes.
Keep ST’s number’s in check – control the population size of an organism so that doesn’t increase too much
- We need to keep kangaroo numbers in check so they don’t explode into plague proportions on this farm.
Off the top of your head – from memory
- How many animals can you list off the top of your head?
Opportunistic – exploiting immediate opportunities, especially regardless of planning or principle
- Dingoes are opportunistic predators that will eat anything they can.
Overpopulated – populated in excessively large numbers
- The world may one day be overpopulated with people.
Phenomenal – amazing; astonishing; incredible
- This kangaroo steak is phenomenal!
Plague proportions – numbers that are so high it’s considered a plague
- If animals overpopulate, they can reach plague proportions.
Reckon – think; have the opinion of
- What do you reckon?
Reintroduce ST – introduce ST again to a location, often an animal that previously existed their but went extinct locally
- We want to reintroduce the native quoll into this area of Darwin.
Remove a big puzzle piece out of ST – remove a large and important part of the whole thing – he’s talking about taking an important part of nature (e.g. the crocodile) out of the environment
- If you take sharks out of the environment you’re removing a big piece of the puzzle.
Shoot up – increase rapidly in number
- The number of fish in this river has shot up!
Suburbia – the suburbs or their inhabitants viewed collectively
- He lives in suburbia outside Melbourne.
To a degree – the amount, level, or extent to which ST happens or is present
- I can tolerate heat to a degree, but I prefer the cold.
Trampled – tread on and crushed
- The cattle escaped their paddock and trampled my flowers.
Utilise ST – use ST
- We need to utilise the money we have to buy food.
What are your thoughts on ST? – what is your opinion of ST?; What do you think about ST?
- What are your thoughts on culling crocs?
Wild instincts – an organism’s natural behaviours in the wild
- The croc is an animal that runs on wild instincts.