Saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) are highly abundant in Gurruwiling (the Arafura Swamp). Yolngu people of the swamp have an intimate understanding and relationship with these culturally important animals and are ideally placed to use them to create a sustainable business. For many years landowners have harvested crocodile eggs to sell to farms in Darwin but the returns from egg collection can be significantly increased by hatching and growing the animals on-site.
Recognising the economic benefit for landowners, ASRAC sought funding from the Northern Territory and Australian Governments to establish a state-of-the-art facility in Ramingining in Arnhem Land to hatch and rear high quality animals. Crocodile farms in Darwin provided valuable advice during the construction phase and the ASRAC facility incorporates best practice technology, operational methods, and animal welfare standards. Crocodiles grown by ASRAC will be sold to larger farms once they are almost a metre in length. Profits from the enterprise will fund land management activities that protect crocodile habitat in Gurruwiling.
Building ASRAC’s Crocodile Farm
Stage I of the facility, which was completed in July 2021, allows for collected eggs to be hatched and hatchlings briefly retained on-site before being transported to Darwin. The construction of Stage I was an important achievement for the people of Ramingining, who have long desired to increase their economic independence and boost local employment opportunities The farm will also allow the next generation of Yolngu to learn and appreciate how traditional knowledge and skills are still relevant in a modern world.
Stage II will commence once funding has been sourced. Pens suitable for rearing animals until they are almost a metre in length will be constructed by the end of 2022. Staging the construction of the crocodile farm has increased employee confidence and proficiency– rather than being required to learn everything at once, they have had two years of on-site training. This will lead to better animal care and ultimately a premium quality product.