North Queensland, Australia – In a chilling incident that may be the first of its kind, environment officials suggest that a crocodile attack might have involved two crocodiles preying on a human.
The Tragic Fate of Andrew Heard
The assessment was part of the pre-inquest findings into the tragic demise of retiree Andrew Heard, which occurred north of Townsville two years ago. His remains were discovered in a male crocodile measuring nearly five metres and a female crocodile almost three metres long. Both crocodiles were killed in the days following the attack.
A Fateful Fishing Trip
Heard, 68, had left his partner on their yacht in the Hinchinbrook Channel for a fishing trip in the Gayundah Creek on the morning of February 11, 2021. He had planned to return within an hour, but when he failed to do so, his partner raised the alarm.
The Aftermath of the Attack
A search party found Heard’s dinghy the next morning, with a large part of the hull missing, teeth marks, and a broken fishing rod. A human leg was later discovered in the creek.
The Coroner’s Findings
Andrew Heard, 69, was killed by a five-metre beast before a female accomplice ‘came in once the man was killed to assist in dismemberment and consumption’https://t.co/tUpVrE5pmn
— Daily Star (@dailystar) June 7, 2024
Coroner Christine Roney’s findings, released this week, concluded that Heard was attacked by a 4.86m male crocodile, nearly twice the length of his dinghy and almost as wide. His remains were also found in a 2.85m female crocodile, which environment officials suggest was “more of a scavenger and opportunist”.
The Role of the Crocodiles
The Department of Environment and Science’s report states, “Based on the evidence it would appear that the deceased was initially attacked and killed by the larger male crocodile (4.86m) while fishing in his boat. The female likely came in once the man was killed to assist in dismemberment and consumption.”
A First in Crocodile Predation
The report further notes that while it’s not unusual for a male crocodile to share a large meal with a female, especially during the breeding season, this might be the first recorded instance of two crocodiles preying on a human.
Balancing Conservation and Public Safety
The department has assured the coroner of an active crocodile management plan for the area, known to be a crocodile habitat. Ms Coney ruled Mr Heard’s death as an animal attack, noting the department’s responsibility to balance the long-term conservation of wild crocodile populations with reducing risks to public safety.
The findings come just weeks after the remains of fisherman Kevin Darmody were found in two crocodiles following his disappearance on the Kennedy River in far north Queensland.