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Crocodile Industry Hopes to Boost Australia Aboriginal Communities


FILE - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, center, observes a life-size replica of an Australian saltwater crocodile during his visit to the Australian Museum with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, left, and the museum's Executive Director Kim McKay in Sydney, Australia, April 22, 2017. (REUTERS/David Moir/Pool)

A new report says the crocodile industry in Australia's Northern Territory is worth more than four times the previous estimate of $80 million.

Officials hope the findings will be meaningful to poorer aboriginal communities that might develop a crocodile farming industry.

The saltwater crocodile is the world's largest reptile. In Australia, the crocodiles were once hunted until they almost disappeared. Their skins were used to make durable leather goods and clothes.

The crocodiles have been a protected species since the early 1970s. And their numbers in Australia's tropical north have increased.

The Northern Territory regional government now sees economic opportunities for native communities. Officials want to expand crocodile egg collection programs.

The eggs would help to stock crocodile farms owned by aboriginal groups. These groups would supply skins to companies that make costly clothing and other products such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci.

Michael Gunner is the chief minister of the Northern Territory.

Gunner says the government is looking into investing in rangers to help grow the crocodile industry.

He says harvesting eggs and growing the crocodile industry locally “is a very important and valuable use of traditional country done by traditional owners.”

Bob Katter is a member of the Australian parliament. He said that as crocodile numbers increase, so does the threat to people. He believes hunters should be permitted to shoot them for sport. Katter has argued that crocodile hunts would boost the incomes of aboriginal communities.

The Northern Territory government supports crocodile hunts. But only Australia’s federal government can make the final decision. So far, they have refused to permit them.

Conservationists say that the shooting of animals for profit in Australia is, in their words, “abhorrent” and should never be permitted.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

Phil Mercer wrote this story for VOANews. Jonathan Evans adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

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Words in this Story

aboriginaladj. of or relating to the people and things that have been in a region from the earliest time; of or relating to the native people of Australia.

durableadj. staying strong and in good condition over a long period of time

species – n. a group of animals or plants that are similar and can produce young animals or plants; a group of related animals or plants that is smaller than a genus

sportn. a physical activity such as hunting, fishing, running, or swimming that is done for enjoyment

ranger –n. a person in charge of managing and protecting part of a national park

stockv. to fill something, such as a room or a building, with a supply of food, drinks, etc.

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