Crocodile & Alligator

Last updated 30 August 2021

 Crocodiles are native Australian animals who have existed on this land for at least 100 million years.1 Today, crocodiles are farmed for their skin and flesh, with more of these incredible reptiles living their shortened lives in farms than in nature.2, 3  Despite industry claims of species ‘conservation’ and ‘sustainability’, many of these crocodiles live miserable lives in concrete pens; in factory farms.


Croc image 1 A crocodile in their natural habitat.
Credit: Janina Hetz via
National Geographic


A background on crocodiles and their history

Crocodiles communicate with each other in complex ways we are yet to fully understand.4 They play with objects and each other throughout their lives, and even ride on each other’s backs when they are young. The enjoyment crocodiles take from play has been acknowledged as a sign of their high intelligence.5

Having lived in their native Australia for at least 100 million years, these enormous reptiles have existed and thrived for longer than we can possibly comprehend. For reference, dinosaurs became extinct about 65 million years ago,6 and Aboriginal people have lived on their native land for over 60,000 years.7, 8 This country was invaded less than 300 years ago, 7 and crocodiles were first farmed for slaughter less than 50 years ago.9

In the 1950’s and 60s, hunting of crocodiles, primarily to sell their skins, became so intensified that the species nearly became extinct. In the 1970s, when the species was given a selection of protections, there were only 3,000 crocodiles left in the Northern Territory. Since their protection from intensified and unregulated hunting, the wild crocodile population has increased to approximately 100,000 crocodiles in Australia. 10


A close up of a saltwater crocodile.
Credit: Peter Nijenhuis via


Protected species

Today, in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia crocodiles are given ‘full protection’. This means that crocodiles cannot be ‘taken’, ‘interfered’ with, trapped or shot without a permit. A person cannot possess or sell alive or dead crocodiles, or parts of their bodies, without a permit.11

Of course, this is not truly a ‘full protection’ of crocodiles as individuals. In fact, the saltwater crocodile was moved from Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) to Appendix II following a proposal to farm the species for slaughter. 12 This means that their protections were reduced so that they could be profited from, under the guise of conservation.13


Croc image 3 From Territory Stories and Crocodile Hunt, via ABC



Farming crocodiles for profit

Saltwater crocodiles are now farmed, predominately so that their skins can be sold. Crocodiles are farmed both through captive breeding programs and wild capture, where eggs are stolen from mound nests in the wild.14

Every year, 10,000 crocodiles are slaughtered and skinned, with a single skin being sold from $300 to more than $1,000 depending on ‘quality’. Meat and other ‘products’ from the crocodile’s carcass can generate up to an additional $200. The farming industry itself was valued at $25 million, with $19 million coming from sale of skin products. 15

Louis Vuitton and Hermès bags made from Australian saltwater crocodile’s skin. This LV bag sells for over $57,000AUD, and Birkin bags made from these animals can cost up to $250,000AUD.



Factory farming

Aussie Farms released world first investigative footage across 4 crocodile farms in Australia, making up 30% of the industry’s farms.16

Drone footage shows the enormous scale of these factory-farms, with concrete and caging sprawling across vast land.


Drone shot


Misleading claims of ‘high welfare’


Despite claims by industry and Government that crocodile farming is in the best interest for the species and their conservation, the reality of crocodile farming is one of deprivation, confinement and cruelty.

At every farm, crocodiles were confined to individual, barren concrete pens. In these pens the crocodiles were unable to turn around and could move only minimally. There was no enrichment to stimulate the crocodiles, and only a small amount of water.


The codes of practice for crocodile farming require ‘raising stock’ to receive only:

  • 25 to 0.5m2 for individual crocodiles who are 1m long
  • 5 to 1m2 for individuals who are 2m long

Essentially, farms are not required to give crocodiles space even the length of their own bodies.17

The farms exposed by Aussie Farms are actually going beyond the code requirements, and yet conditions are still appalling. However, claims of ‘high welfare’ are still made because codes are being met and exceeded. Overseas luxury fashion houses such as Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Yves Saint Laurent are told that they are receiving ‘materials’ from farms with high animal welfare.18 This is blatantly untrue.

Further, currently codes of practice are not legally binding, due to the exemption of farmed animals from protection in the Australian Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.19



Slaughter and ‘processing’

Factory-farm conditions aside, the farming of crocodiles is inherently unethical as these ancient reptiles are slaughtered. Saltwater crocodiles have an average lifespan of 70 years,20 but are slaughtered for their skin at between 2 to 3 years old.21

Crocodiles can legally be shot in the head, and if they are under 2m long, they can be killed by being bludgeoned with one blow to the head with a hammer or other tool.22 Almost no crocodiles are slaughtered when they are old enough to be more than 2m long.

Aussie Farms released footage of crocodiles being shot in the head, after being electrocuted.

Compassionate conservation

Conserving the crocodile species is important. However, when there are 100,000 crocodiles in the wild, and 185,000 crocodiles in confinement on farms such as the ones Aussie Farms has exposed, this is not at the benefit of these animals. 23, 24  

Crocodiles as a native Australian species deserve to live freely on their land, and to be protected. Their protection should not be based on financially incentivising their continued existence through their exploitation, incarceration and slaughter. It is not morally acceptable to keep a species alive only to profit from them in this way.