Dozens of crocodile heads dumped in Australian town
Up to 70 rotting crocodile heads have been found in an old freezer dumped at a remote Australian town, police said Tuesday, with the culprits facing large fines and jail time if convicted of the killings.
Several teenagers made the grisly find behind a row of shops at Humpty Doo, 40 kilometers (25 miles) outside Darwin on Sunday and con- tacted authorities.
Police said at least 50 saltwater crocodile heads, and as many as 70, were stuffed inside.
“(We saw) a deep freezer in a sad state of affairs,” senior wildlife ranger Tommy Nichols, who specializes in crocodile management, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“There was quite a bad smell and maggots around everywhere.”
No one has been arrested but anyone convicted of killing protected wildlife faces a fine of up to AU$76,500 (US$55,000) or five years in jail.
It was not clear why the heads had been severed but crocodile skins are highly prized and there is a thriving market.
Saltwater crocodiles, which can grow up to seven meters long and weigh more than a tonne, have be- come increasingly common in Australia’s Northern Territory since they were declared a protected species in 1971.
Each year more than 500 are culled to protect the public and livestock, with the animals killing an average of two people a year.
Keeping them as pets is legal in the Northern Territory if they are under 60 centimeters.