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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 June, 2003, 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK
Collectors warned off croc signs
Signs warn tourists about Australia's saltwater crocodiles

Souvenir hunters are putting tourists in danger by snapping up sought-after crocodile warning signs, according to an Australian wildlife ranger.

Tim Holmes said the signs, which are commonplace in the north of the country, often disappear within days of being erected.

He urged people to resist the temptation to take "bright" new signs recently installed around the far north Queensland town of Mackay.

"They are government property and shouldn't be removed," he told Radio Australia.

The red signs depict an open-mouthed croc and warn of danger in several languages.

They are designed for the saltwater estuaries of Australia's north and north-eastern coastlines, popular with tourists.

'Not clever'

But all too often the signs have ended up adorning a household's backyard swimming pool.

"Certainly, historically, we have had situations where they have been deemed collectable items," said Tim Holmes.

"It's not very clever really."

Earlier this month, a 34-year-old woman was bitten by a young crocodile in the Northern Territory.

Chris Roberts managed to kick the reptile off after it lunged at her leg as she sat beside a river bank near Darwin.

Last year, a 24-year-old German tourist was killed by a 4.2-metre (14-foot) crocodile after she went for a midnight swim in a river channel in the Kakadu National Park.

Rangers found eight saltwater crocodiles in the billabong before they managed to retrieve the body of Isabel von Jordan.

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