CROCODILES will soon be welcoming tourists and returning residents into the Top End, with a new sniffer croc biosecurity service on patrol to detect illegal items.

In a world-first, highly trained crocodiles will help identify illicit substances, with the new service rolled out at Darwin International Airport in the coming days.

Darwin Airport executive general manager operations Rob Porter said he was delighted to launch the new service in Darwin.

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"We have strongly supported the development of this service and expect the service to work side-by-side with other services we offer at the airport," Mr Porter said.

"There is a real value in using crocodiles for this purpose, they are uniquely Territorian and have a life span up to 70 years, so investing early in training certainly pays off."

The new 'Croc Sniffing' service has been developed in partnership with Crocodylus Park, who selected each crocodile for the specialised training.

"Crocodiles have a brain in which the smell centres are simply huge," Crocodylus Park owner Grahame Webb said.

"They have an extraordinary sense of smell and are more intelligent than most people realise."

Mr Webb said the program had been in the works for some time, with increased safety procedures at Darwin Airport providing ample space and time for on-site training.

"Park staff have spent considerable time selecting crocodiles with the right temperament," he said.

"Similar to choosing the right guide dog, sniffer crocs had to meet certain criteria. I'm delighted Crocodylus Park could play a part in developing this unique service."

Originally published as Darwin Airport introduces new line of defence: Sniffer crocs



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