Down in Papau New Guinea (PNG), we have been struggling to find out more about an Australian hunter who is reported to have been given permission to conduct six hunts for so-called "killer saltwater crocodiles." All we know at this point is, Australia's Sidney Morning Herald says the PNG Conservation Department has issued hunt permits to a fellow named "Crocodile Mick" Pitman of Bundaberg, Queensland. Pitman has been advertising the hunts at $180,000 (US). He was said to have two hunters lined up last month, but we have not been able to confirm that. Seems plans called for a PNG environmental protection officer to accompany the hunters and conduct an impact study, as well as carry out a crocodile count in the areas where the hunts were to take place. Pitman has been quoted as saying that part of the funds from the hunts were earmarked for the local PNG community.
We do not know where the truth in all this lies at this point, but we intend to keep digging, as interest in saltwater crocodile hunts is intense in the wake of Australia's recent decision to not allow hunts to go forward in that country. What worries us is the fact that Pitman appears to be a flamboyant Crocodile Dundeetype of guy. He was a self-confessed crocodile poacher up to 1996, and he has had some very public disagreements with the preservationist Steve Irwin. He is also said to have made some inflammatory statements about people shooting deer with tanks in Russia. He has also been quoted as likening elephant hunting to "shooting a door in the middle of a football field."
It's not clear Pitman is the kind of ambassador we need out there opening new hunts for us. But stay tuned. We'll pass on what else we can find out in a future issue.