Koorana bids farewell to star attraction

36 years ago, a new resident joined John Lever and the landscape of Koorana Crocodile Farm. With a gentle temperament (for a croc that is), Buka would spend his days basking in an irrigation hole on a cane property near Ingham, prior to joining the team at Koorana.

Unknown to local swimmers washing work dust off themselves every afternoon, the 4.7metre Buka patiently swept through the North Queensland billabong, laying low from the unsuspecting bathers.

But the local farmer knew the massive reptile was lurking, biding time before potentially causing severe harm to one or more of his workers. Knowing that the croc’s diet of road-kill wallabies would only go so far to suppress his appetite, the farmer called on John’s assistance to remove the mighty beast.

Buka’s stealthy motives challenged the Lever’s government approved catch, fending off his captors for two months before finally succumbing to a land-based hunger trap. In September 1984, Buka became the second largest croc in captivity in Australia.

John Lever has sadly announced that Buka, who was estimated to be at least 90 years of age, passed away last night (Monday 3rd August) at Koorana Crocodile Farm. “He was a remarkable crocodile and has entertained a lot of people over the years,” John said. “Buka was our largest croc at 5.3 metres, and given his size, was a star attraction.”

Capably producing until last year, the active stud croc will be missed at the farm, which attracts 30,000 people each year. “In what has already been a tough year for our business and the entire tourism sector, the loss of this old chap is a shame.”

Koorana Crocodile Farm in Coowonga was originally established in 1981 and was Queensland’s first commercial crocodile farm. Offering a controlled and safe environment for both the crocodiles and visitors to get up close and personal, Koorana has been an iconic tourist attraction for the past 39 years.

Capricorn Enterprise CEO Mary Carroll shared her condolences to John and the team on the loss of one of the region’s tourism characters. “Witnessing these mammoth creatures up close is such a wonderful experience for locals and visitors to our destination and we are so grateful to Koorana for continuing to provide an exceptional tourism attraction,” Mary said.

Buka will be remembered fondly by both the Lever family and the local community and his head and skin will be treated and displayed on the restaurant ceiling in honour of his life.

To assist with the impact of COVID-19, Buka and his girlfriend were sponsored by the Smedley family from Cooberrie Park Wildlife Sanctuary, after Koorana Crocodile Farm put out a call for support. Following Buka’s passing, the Smedley family will now take on sponsorship of mighty male, Matthew.

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