Danish Tourist Body-Slams Aussie Crocodile, Gets Bitten

▪ Lake Kununurra is a popular area for fishing, boating, and wildlife watching
▪ Freshwater crocodiles are endemic to the northern regions of Australia
▪ They are a legally protected species in Western Australia

"IMG_2414.jpg" by Murray Foubister is licensed under CC BY-SA
Credit: Flickr / Murray Foubister / Creative Commons

Lake Kununurra, Western Australia — A backpacking Danish tourist was attacked and bitten by a crocodile in Australia while trying to photograph the creature.

The attack occurred at about 9:00 p.m. on November 4, 2016, in Western Australia when Danish tourist Johnny Bonde, 27, was returning from nearby Kimberley town’s Speedway. As he and his girlfriend, British tourist Kirsty Jacobs, walked beside Lake Kununurra, he spotted a six-foot-long freshwater crocodile — known in Australia as a “freshie” — floating in the shallow waters at the edge of the lake.

Lake Kununurra along the Ord River in Western Australia. Credit: IsThatDaves / Wikimedia Commons

Lake Kununurra is a 34-mile-long man-made freshwater reservoir in the Ord River valley of Western Australia. Home to twenty-one fish species and numerous bird species, as well as freshwater crocodiles, the lake is popular with tourists for fishing, boating, and wildlife watching.

Bonde lingered on the bank to snap photos of the crocodile while his girlfriend returned to the RV park where the two backpackers were staying. “I just wanted to get a bit closer,” he later said, “it was laying on the bottom of the bank.”

This map marker shows the location of Lake Kununurra in Australia’s Western Territory. Credit: Google Maps

Suddenly Bonde found himself sliding down the slippery embankment, resulting in an unintentional “body slam” to the reptile. “My foot slipped, and I fell,” Bonde recalls.

As Bonde told the story to reporters, he said,

“Next thing I know I’m sliding down the bank and then I just toppled over and landed straight on top of the croc.” He reports, “He got a pretty good grip on me and shook me around a bit. There was just splashing and I could feel a bit of pain in my arm. It wasn’t that bad though—I was more shocked than anything.”

Two species of crocodile — freshwater and saltwater (“saltie”) varieties — are found in the waters of Western Australia. “Freshies” can grow to about 6 feet long, and “salties” can grow to over 20 feet long. “Freshies” are a legally protected species in Western Australia.

"Beautiful Reflection Pools" by kayadams.com is licensed under CC BY
The lush marshes of Australia are prime living space for freshwater crocodiles. These inland freshwater areas often overlap with saltwater areas that house their close relatives — the saltwater crocodiles. Credit: Flickr / Kay Adams / Creative Commons

According to the Perth, Australia, Sunday Times, Bonde said that after the attack his arm “felt weird” and as he made his way out of the lake, he saw “a lot of blood.”

Nevertheless he was able to walk back to the RV park where he and his girlfriend were spending the night. He says that because his arm would not stop bleeding, his girlfriend became worried.

He was taken to the district hospital in Kununurra where he was treated for deep cuts to his arm.

The attack “was the result of me being stupid,” Bonde admits. He says he harbors no ill will toward his attacker. “I pretty much body-slammed him,” he acknowledges. “If somebody body-slammed me at night, I would be angry too.”

Bonde talks with reporters in the hospital. Credit: Sunrise / Video Screen Grab

Bonde spent the night at the hospital, and he expected to be released about twenty-four hours later.

He has been touring Australia for more than a year and met his girlfriend while traveling in Western Australia.

Bonde says the incident is “just a little setback,” and he will not let it interfere with the couple’s travel plans.

Their next destination is Darwin, in Australia’s Northern Territory. Saltwater crocodiles are common in all waterways surrounding Darwin and can occasionally be seen swimming in Darwin Harbor and on local beaches.

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