Aussie Researchers Start World’s First Crocodile Bites Database

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By Athena Yenko | December 4, 2013 4:01 PM EST

In a world's first, Aussie researchers launched CrocBITE. The site was designed to be the Worldwide Crocodilian Attack database which will continuously gather all confirmed reports of attack by any crocodilian species against human.

"The purpose of which is to better understand risk factors leading to such attacks and ultimately help to improve human safety and, as a consequence, crocodilian conservation. Although this is an ongoing and regularly updated project, attack reporting and record-keeping is highly variable across many different countries, and hence the database does not pretend to be complete," stated the CrocBITE Web site.

This worldwide database will be managed by researchers based at Australia's Charles Darwin University (CDU).

CDU researcher Adam Britton told AFP that since laws were passed in Australia's tropical Northern Territory in 1971, banning crocodile shooting, crocodilian species increased. As a result, more crocodiles interact with humans, with stories of attack having "similar stories from around the world."

"Crocodile conservation has come back to bite itself. Human-crocodile conflict is increasing each year as crocodile populations recover from decades of overhunting, and human populations continue to grow and encroach upon crocodile habitat," Mr Britton said.

CrocBITE does not aim to make humans angry at crocodiles but "better analyse crocodile and human conflict."

"The project will be an ongoing attempt to compile all reported attacks by any crocodilian species on a human to better understand risk factors leading to such attack. This would "ultimately help to improve human safety and, as a consequence, crocodilian conservation," Mr Britton further explained.

In an interview with ABC, Mr Britton encouraged the public to contribute crocodile attack stories that they have known of. However, these stories will still be still be curated by crocodile experts to ensure factuality.

"One of the purposes of this ... is so that people who are more familiar with the data will be able to log on and say, 'well, hold on a second that crocodile wasn't five metres it was only two-and-a-half metres', so we can slow improve the accuracy of the information," he said.

"We have got the highest density of saltwater crocodiles anywhere in the world in the rivers here. We have got a lot of people here who love going out on the water all the time. Given the potential for crocodiles and people to come into conflict, Australia actually does an extremely good job."

To date, CrocBITE had already compiled 2,000 records of crocodile attacks.

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