Crocodile bites drone in Darwin Wildlife Park while filming “Crocodile Land” documentary
It is the most powerful bite in the animal kingdom.
The teardown took place during the filming of Crocodile Territory
ABC technicians recovered the footage after the drone resurfaced
The documentary airs tonight
An ABC News drone was hit hardest when a saltwater crocodile leaped up and snatched it into the air while ABC cameraman Dane Hirst was filming in Darwin.
The anomalous event occurred during production of an ABC News multiplatform documentary, Crocodile Territory, which airs tonight.
The documentary marks the 50th anniversary of the ban on hunting ancient reptiles in the Northern Territory.
Mr Hirst said he hadn’t filmed for a long time when he heard the kind of sound you only hear when a saltwater crocodile closes its jaws at breakneck speed.
“I set up the drone over a small lagoon in Crocodylus Park, and all the crocs were really fearful,” he said.
“So I thought, great, I’m going to use this man, he’s in a stationary location. I can take some decent pictures of him.
“I lined up the drone and hovered over it, and as I was doing this I looked up at the lagoon and saw a crocodile upright out of the water and I heard the loud clenching sound of a crocodile’s jaws coming together. “
When Mr. Hirst looked up, the drone was gone.
“I looked at my controller and it was a blank screen and no connection,” he said.
While Mr Hirst did not see the crocodile shoot down the drone, a young child on a tour of the park witnessed it.
The child’s grandfather approached the cameraman and confirmed to Mr. Hirst what he said he already knew deep down.
“I thought, oh wow, this was a whole new drone, and it’s going to be really hard to explain to the boss,” he said.
The drone had been purchased for filming and was on its maiden flight when it encountered its unfortunate disappearance.
Emily Broomham of Crocodylus Park said the drone flew over a lagoon of large crocodiles up to five meters long before encountering “very cheeky girls”.
“The little fangs took it off and won the day,” she said.
The drone is believed to have ended up in the crocodile’s stomach or at the bottom of the lagoon, but was found mutilated and full of bite holes on the shore two weeks later.
“We were going to take a look when we [drained] the lagoon… and we were all joking and laughing about it, wondering under what conditions we would find it, ”Ms Broomham said.
“Some cheeky crocs had obviously found it down there and thought they would have a bit of a try again and dragged it down to earth for us which was great because it was just nice and easy to pick up . “
The drone had been damaged beyond repair, but the map with the footage survived, allowing the team to recover what had been shot.
“Lucky for me at ABC we have some very smart technicians and they were able to get the footage back,” Hirst said.
The drone is now hanging in the ABC News crew room as a warning.
Crocodile Territory will screen on ABC News Channel at 8:30 p.m. AEST tonight and will air on ABC iView and the ABC YouTube channel.
The digital version of the story is available here.