In this new two-part series, Ray Mears will follow two of Australia’s most iconic animals and gain privileged insight into their unique habitats.
In this opening instalment, Ray focuses on the infamous salt water crocodile, Australia’s most notorious top predator and king of the tropical Northern territory. As the city of Darwin’s crocodile population explodes, Ray meets Tommy Nichols, the head of the city’s crocodile rangers. Tommy patrols the water checking traps for saltwater crocodiles that have strayed, in an attempt to reduce the risk of attacks.
Ray later gets the chance to assist Tommy on one of his missions, after a report comes in from a local fisherman who has spotted a three-metre crocodile in a trap close to the docks. Ray assists Tommy as he tapes up the croc’s jaw and tie together its powerful rear legs before pulling it onboard the boat to be transported to a crocodile farm. Tommy later explains how he once had a close shave himself, ten years earlier while working alone to retrieve a crocodile from a trap, which got hold off his hand and ripped off two of his fingers.
Ray then travels to Crocodylus Park, where he is introduced to one of the biggest crocodiles in captivity – Eric. Eric is 4.9 metres long and was previously king of the river, before he became a threat to fishermen and the authorities intervened. As Ray gets close to the enormous animal to feed him chickens, the danger is clear.
Ray also meets Charlene O’Sullivan who tragically lost her daughter Briony to a crocodile four years ago. Remarkably, Charlene and her mother Lyn now hand-rear baby crocodiles in their own back gar-den
Finally, Ray learns about the multi-million dollar crocodile industry and meets some of the people who’ve built their livelihoods around the crocodiles and have their own views about their future.
Ray Mears’ Close Encounters: Saltwater Crocodile airs tonight on ITV at 9pm
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