As an animal, crocodiles loom large in the human imagination. Crocodiles also grow to very large sizes in the real world, large enough to consume humans. Eco-philosopher Val Plumwood came to the realisation, while being churned under water within a crocodileâ€™s jaws, that for the crocodile she was food, merely a piece of meat. The intention of this paper is to instigate thought on how views can differ from the portrayal of the crocodile as a primitive monster. In northeast Arnhem Land, the saltwater crocodile is commonly encountered as a moving shape out on the water, or through fresh signs of large lumbering tracks upon a beach. For individual Yolngu, whose clan totem includes the saltwater crocodile, or BÃ¤ru, this being is an integral part of social existence. BÃ¤ru features in ceremony, within song, dance and in bark paintings. I examine how Yolngu negotiate with the saltwater crocodile as a very real threat to human life; but also how Yolngu have a deep respect for the crocodile through a mutual essence and connection to country.
|Animal Studies Journal
|Published - 2013