SYDNEY, March 7 (Xinhua) -- The far north Australian community of Cardwell is in shock after the sudden loss of local icon, Bismarck the 4.5 metre saltwater crocodile.
Local media reported on Thursday that the croc, estimated as being up to 100 years old, was found dead by local fishermen with apparent bullet wounds -- although the official cause of death is currently being investigated by police.
Long-time Cardwell resident, Thea Ormonde, described Bismarck as a "gentle giant" and said it was a "very, very sad day" for the community.
"We saw Bismarck as part of our community, he was such a gentle soul as far as crocodiles go," Ormonde told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Bismarck was a regular feature of the area and could often be seen casually sunning himself nearby to residents who were all too happy to fish or collect crab pots alongside the apex predator.
"This croc was never a threat to humans, he just loved a feed of turtles," the fisherman who found Bismarck, Ryan Moody said.
"I used to walk right next to him at the mount of Meunga Creek while gathering bait and flicking lures."
Moody posted a video to social media condemning the killing, suggesting that the death has now opened up the territory for potentially more dangerous and aggressive crocs to move in.
"It's amazing how humans can make situations become more dangerous through acts of pure stupidity," Moody said.
The town is now planning a memorial service to say goodbye to their unlikely friend.