The British pensioner 'eaten alive' by crocodile in Australian outback

Posted on 4:03 AM by Sameer Shah

This is the British pensioner believed to have been killed by a crocodile in the Australian outback.

A second day of searching has failed to find Arthur Booker, 63.

He had been camping with his wife Doris by the Endeavour River near Cooktown in north Queensland.

Mr Booker, a long-time resident of Australia who was born in Scotland, went to the river to check crab pots. When he had not returned two hours later, his wife went looking for him.

She found the crab pot rope snapped on the bank, along with large crocodile slide marks and the couples' new video recorder.

Mr Booker's watch was found at the scene, along with one sandal.

The traumatised Mrs Booker is being treated for shock.

'No sign of the man has been found and police strongly suspect a crocodile attack,' a spokesman for Queensland Parks and Wildlife Rangers said.

Environmental Protection Agency staff set crocodile traps near the Fullers Landing campsite but as darkness fell, the search by police officers and emergency service personnel in three dinghies was called off.

'They were looking under logs in case the big crocodile had stashed the body in there,' said one onlooker. 'The police and search teams are certain they are looking for a body.'

Rangers said they believed a 20ft crocodile named Charlie - tagged in 2005 - dragged Mr Booker into the river, although a senior Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officer has suggested another crocodile was responsible for the attack.

However, there was no sign of Charlie at sundown on Tuesday when the search for Mr Booker, a Vietnam war veteran, was called off.

Rangers had spotted two crocodiles near the landing site where Mr Booker, originally from Banffshire, Scotland, went missing. EPA regional manager James Newman said one large crocodile was spotted upstream from the crab pots and another was just 10m away.

Mr Newman said 800kg Charlie, the most likely culprit, was known to be 'shy and docile'.

But locals dismissed the claim, saying: 'What happens if Charlie gets hungry?'

The last fatal crocodile attack in Queensland was in August 2005.

Fisherman Barry Jefferies was killed when a crocodile grabbed his arm and pulled him from a canoe.

'Charlie is still down there,' said local Leanne Rayner, who co-owns Endeavour River Escape bush camping ground.

Crocodile warning signs are posted throughout the area, a 15km drive north of Cooktown, with signposts urging visitors to be 'croc wise'.

Mrs Rayner said Mrs Booker was so upset by her ordeal she was admitted to Cooktown hospital for treatment.

Holidaymaker Mr Booker was retrieving the pots on foot because he had packed his dinghy on the roofrack of his vehicle, as he was about to leave.

The University of Queensland's crocodile expert Craig Franklin said crocodiles were ambush predators on the look-out for repeated patterns of activity from potential prey.

'They don't target humans. They're opportunistic feeders,' Professor Franklin told AAP.

'If a food source presents itself then they see that as fair game.

'It could be a pig or a wallaby, but if that animal repeatedly goes down to a similar location, they will ambush it.'

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