This proved to be extremely difficult. Crocodile attack. During my recovery, it seemed as if each telling took part of the pain and distress of the memory away. It was a shocking reduction, from a complex human being to a mere piece of meat. She is includ… After the crocodile attack, park management recalled all canoes for storage at the ‘dry dump’ at the headquarters of Kakadu National Park, near Jabiru. As I leapt into the same branch, the crocodile seized me again, this time around the upper left thigh, and pulled me under. Confronting the brute fact of being prey, together with the astonishing view of this larger story in which my ‘normal’ ethical terms of struggle seemed absent or meaningless, brought home to me rather sharply that we inhabit not only an ethical order, but also something not reducible to it, an ecological order. As in the repetition of a nightmare, when the dreamer is stuck fast in some monstrous pattern of destruction impervious to will or endeavor, the horror of my first escape attempt was exactly repeated. An ecosystem's ability to support large predators is a mark of its ecological integrity. Val Plumwood’s The Eye of the Crocodile, edited by Lorraine Shannon, is one such book. Val Plumwood (11 August 1939 – 29 February 2008) was an Australian philosopher and ecofeminist known for her work on anthropocentrism. I hung there, exhausted. Like the others, it stopped eventually, and we came up in the same place as before, next to the sandpaper fig branch. I was alone, severely injured, and many miles from help. They slid into warm, unresisting holes (which may have been the ears or perhaps the nostrils), and the crocodile did not so much as flinch. Miles often used the canoe to cross local waterways. We act as if we live in a separate realm of culture in which we are never food, while other animals inhabit a different world of nature in which they are no more than food, and their lives can be utterly distorted in the service of this end. I realized I had to get out of the canoe or risk being capsized or pulled into the deeper water of mid channel. My considerable bush experience served me well, keeping me on course (navigating was second nature). Plumwood also wrote an essay, “Prey to a Crocodile,” which is not in the book, but available online. don't have an online The imposition of the master narrative occurred in several ways: in the exaggeration of the crocodile's size, in portraying the encounter as a heroic wrestling match, and especially in its sexualization. A crocodile, a virus, and the false promise of supremacy. After what seemed like a long time, I heard the distant sound of a motor and saw a light moving on the swamp's far side. Val Plumwood shows how the crocodile as trickster can help us reshape the old human-centred master narrative into a more modest tale appropriate for new times. Unfortunately, Plumwood’s ordeal was far from over. As my own narrative and the larger story were ripped apart, I glimpsed a shockingly indifferent world in which I had no more significance than any other edible being. I set off on a day trip in search of an Aboriginal rock art site across the lagoon and up a side channel. It is, essentially, an experience beyond words of total terror, total helplessness, total certainty, experienced with undivided mind and body, of a terrible death in the swirling depths. It’ll just have to come and get me. After hours of searching the maze of shallow channels in the swamp, I had not found the clear channel leading to the rock art site, as shown on the ranger's sketch map. (We're British here.) In time, after the canoe had deteriorated in condition and was, for all purposes, abandoned by park management, Andrew rescued it from the dry dump for his children to use as play equipment. As I crested a gentle dune, I was shocked to glimpse the muddy waters of the East Alligator River gliding silently only 100 yards away. For the first year, the experience of existence as an unexpected blessing cast a golden glow over my life, despite the injuries and the pain. I reached out and held onto the branch with all my strength, vowing to let the crocodile tear me apart rather than throw me again into that spinning, suffocating hell. In contrast, many Australian Aboriginal cultures offer rich opportunities for passing on stories. I am very lucky that I can still walk well and have lost few of my previous capacities. Already a Member but It seemed a shame, somehow, after all I had been through. As a solitary specimen of a major prey species of the saltwater crocodile, I was standing in one of the most dangerous places on earth. I was alive! The current's too swift, and if you get into trouble, there are the crocodiles. Despite the powerful influence of the near death encounter, Val Plumwood refused to be defined only in relation to the attack and her survival: I don’t want my life to be reduced to that event, but it was certainly an important event, in terms of shaping the way I think about the world, and what I do in the world. I did not wait to inspect the damage but took off away from the crocodile toward the ranger station. With severe injuries, Val Plumwood began walking towards the ranger station, some kilometres away on the other side of the river. I learned many lessons from the event, one of which is to know better when to turn back and to be more open to the sorts of warnings I had ignored that day. November 20, 2020 Leave a Comment. Crocodile In February of 1985, ecofeminist philosopher Val Plumwood was attacked by a saltwater crocodile. Not long ago, saltwater crocodiles were considered endangered, as virtually all mature animals in Australia's north were shot by commercial hunters. An ecologist who survived a crocodile attack has been killed by a snake. We all want to pass on our story, of course, and I was no exception. Val Plumwood survived this incident in February 1985. As I looked, my whispering sense of unease turned into a shout of danger. The golden eyes glinted with interest. I braced myself against the branch ready for another roll, but after a short time felt the crocodile's jaws suddenly relax. As she leapt from the canoe, the crocodile burst from the water and dragged her down and into a terrifying ‘death roll’: Few of those who have experienced the crocodile’s death roll have lived to describe it. She is assured that crocodile's do not attack canoes but her advisors are wrong. I tried a second time and almost made it before sliding back, braking my slide two-thirds of the way down by grabbing a tuft of grass. While exploring the East Alligator Lagoon and its backwaters in a canoe borrowed from the park service, Plumwood was attacked by a saltwater crocodile. The film's story line, however, split the experience along conventional gender lines, appropriating the active struggle and escape parts for the male hero and representing the passive "victim" parts in the character of an irrational and helpless woman who has to be rescued from the crocodile-sadist (the rival male) by the bushman hero. When they're allowed to live freely, these creatures indicate our preparedness to coexist with the otherness of the earth, and to recognize ourselves in mutual, ecological terms, as part of the food chain, eaten as well as eater. When she didn’t return to the station by nightfall, Greg Miles led a search party that eventually found her. Like the others, the third death roll stopped, and we came up next to the sandpaper fig branch again. As I began my 13-hour journey to Darwin Hospital, my rescuers discussed going upriver the next day to shoot a crocodile. Thinking it was a boat, I rose up on my elbow and called for help. Renowned Australian feminist and environmental activist Val Plumwood, who survived a horrific crocodile attack more than 20 years ago, was been killed by an apparent snake bite.Plumwood was 68 years old. Val Plumwood, ‘Being prey’, Terra Nova, vol. In the end I was found in time and survived against many odds. 1, no. I had not gone more than five or ten minutes back down the channel when, rounding a bend, I saw ahead of me in midstream what looked like a floating stick — one I did not recall passing on my way up. Horror and outrage usually greet stories of other species eating humans. It is, essentially, an experience beyond words of total terror. The academic and environmentalist had survived an attack by a saltwater crocodile in the Northern Territory in the 1980s. By the same token, the narrative self is threatened when its story is taken over by others and given an alien meaning. Yes, some people call me ‘the crocodile woman’, as if this is one of the defining events in my life, and I don’t see it that way of course. "Your Worst Animal Nightmares: Crocs 2", part of a reconstruction of the crocodile attack, Your Worst Animal Nightmares, Animal Planet, 2009. Before the encounter, it was as if I saw the whole universe as framed by my own narrative, as though the two were joined perfectly and seamlessly together. Two recent escape accounts had both involved active women, one of whom had actually saved a man. Plumwood recommended that creative communicators bring new ideas to our dying culture; stories that help us find our way home to the family of life. It lasted for an eternity, beyond endurance, but when I seemed all but finished, the rolling suddenly stopped. We may daily consume other animals by the billions, but we ourselves cannot be food for worms and certainly not meat for crocodiles. The image of a lone figure, drifting in rain through unfamiliar country, on rising waterways, in a region where saltwater crocodiles were increasing in number and collective power, evokes an intense sense of vulnerability. Passing on the story can help us transcend not only social harm, but also our own biological death. 3, 1996. Feeling back behind me along the head, I encountered two lumps. account? Much of the Australian media had trouble accepting that women could be competent in the bush, but the most advanced expression of this masculinist mind-set was Crocodile Dundee, which was filmed in Kakadu not long after my encounter. But putting that insight into words can take years. The first section of the book comprises three chapters of an incomplete monograph that We live by illusion if we believe we can shape our lives, or those of the other beings with whom we share the ecosystem, in the terms of the ethical and cultural sphere alone. A woman who survived a ferocious "death roll" crocodile attack in the wild has been killed after being bitten by a snake in her garden. The media machine headlined a garbled version anyway, and I came under great pressure, especially from the hospital authorities, whose phone lines had been jammed for days, to give a press interview. The grass tuft began to give way. Although I was paddling to miss the crocodile, our paths were strangely convergent. The unheard of was happening; the canoe was under attack, the crocodile in full pursuit! The outrage we experience at the idea of a human being eaten is certainly not what we experience at the idea of animals as food. In February 1985, Val Plumwood was having a lovely time canoeing by herself in Australia’s Kakadu National Park. Escaping the crocodile was not the end of my struggle to survive. I’ve written some quite important books, so I get quite annoyed by people who refer to me as ‘the crocodile woman’. Again it struck, again and again, now from behind, shuddering the flimsy craft. I was growing weaker, but I could see the crocodile taking a long time to kill me this way. I was a vegetarian at the time of my encounter with the crocodile, and remain one today. I knew now that I must break the pattern. When the whirling terror stopped again I surfaced again, still in the crocodile's grip next to a stout branch of a large sandpaper fig growing in the water. Not back into the paperbark. The roll was a centrifuge of whirling, boiling blackness, which seemed about to tear my limbs from my body, driving water into my bursting lungs. The bank now presented a high, steep face of slippery mud. This is not because I think predation itself is demonic and impure, but because I object to the reduction of animal lives in factory farming systems that treat them as living meat. Flailing wildly to stop myself from sliding farther, I found my fingers jamming into the soft mud, and that supported me. In Living On, a film produced four years before her death, Plumwood spoke about the subtle yet profound effect of the terrifying event at Kakadu on her scholarly thinking: My work really changed course afterwards. Because of its highly privatized sense of the individual, contemporary Western culture is, I think, relatively impoverished in this respect. And once again, after a time, I felt the crocodile jaws relax, and I pulled free. A similar combination of good fortune and human care enabled me to overcome a leg infection that threatened amputation or worse. The left thigh hung open, with bits of fat, tendon, and muscle showing, and a sick, numb feeling suffused my entire body. The lack of fit between this subject-centered version and reality comes into play in extreme moments. This is an enormous challenge. Val Plumwood, who has died aged 68 from a stroke, was an eminent Australian environmental philosopher who lived life on her own terms, often in opposition to prevailing mores. From the 1970s she played a central role in the development of radical ecosophy. They slid into warm, unresisting holes (which may have been the ears, or perhaps the nostrils), and the crocodile did not so much as flinch. In this essay, environmental philosopher and ecofeminist, Val Plumwood tells the story of how she survived a crocodile attack when canoeing in Kakadu National Park, Australia.Ironically, her actions as a conservationist contributed to the large numbers of crocodiles in the park and an unconsidered increased risk of human attacks: The trail departed from a tributary of the East Alligator River near the station. Plumwood tried to leap into the lower branches of a nearby paperbark tree. That's why I tried to minimize publicity and save the story for my friends alone. Saunders, Alan. In the early wet season, Kakadu's paperbark wetlands are especially stunning, as the water lilies weave white, pink, and blue patterns of dreamlike beauty over the shining thunderclouds reflected in their still waters. Admittedly Plumwood is a kind of academic but the story of her surviving an attack by a crocodile leaves one with the impression that she knows. In her 1996 paper ‘Being Prey’, Val Plumwood interpreted the crocodile attack in terms of the significant body of environmental philosophy that she’d developed over decades: [B]efore the event, I saw the whole universe as framed by my own narrative, as though the two were joined perfectly and seamlessly together. I tensed for the jump and leapt. The birds were invisible, the water lilies were sparser, and the lagoon seemed even a little menacing. Feminist writer Val Plumwood said her “desperate delusion” about life collapsed when a crocodile pulled her from a canoe in the Northern Territory’s Kakadu National Park in 1985. I grabbed the branch, vowing to let the crocodile tear me apart rather than throw me again into that spinning, suffocating hell. This was the clue I needed to survive. In 1992 the Skeat family left Kakadu and settled on Magnetic Island, near Townsville in northern Queensland. I had just begun to weep for the prospects of my mangled body when the crocodile pitched me suddenly into a second death roll. Religions like Christianity must then seek narrative continuity for the individual in the idea of an authentic self that belongs to an imperishable realm above the lower sphere of nature and animal life. I turned back with a feeling of relief. While the canoe paddled by Val Plumwood in the floodwaters of the East Alligator River is almost five metres long, when imagined in relation to the powerful natural forces of the Kakadu region, its fibreglass and plywood seem fragile indeed. CANBERRA, Australia - Feminist and environmental activist Val Plumwood, who survived a horrific crocodile attack more than 20 years ago, has died from an apparent snake bite, a friend said Monday. He lived at Cannon Hill, one of the three original ranger stations, and where the Northern Territory government supplied a canoe. My feet touched bottom, my head broke the surface, and, coughing, I sucked at air, amazed to be alive. I thought I heard a faint reply, but then the motor grew fainter and the lights went away. Flailing to keep from sliding farther, I jammed my fingers into the mud. Andrew Skeat was working as a biologist at park headquarters at the time of the attack, while his wife Hilary was employed as an executive officer at the Alligator Rivers Region Research Institute. As the current moved me toward it, the stick appeared to develop eyes. By Val Plumwood. The ranger had assured her that the saltwater crocodiles, notorious man … In 1985 Val Plumwood was taken by a crocodile while canoeing in Kakadu and miraculously she lived to tell the tale. This desperate delusion split apart as I hit the water. This is one reason why we now treat so inhumanely the animals we make our food, for we cannot imagine ourselves similarly positioned as food. This is a nightmare from which I will soon awake. This website contains names, images and voices of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. For the first time I realized that the crocodile was growling, as if angry. The rising water obscured landmarks, she couldn’t locate the trailhead, and the rain got heavier. Miles explained that he hoped she might 'comment on attractiveness, ease of walking, clarity of the alignment and anything else she might find notable’. I went some distance before realizing with a sinking heart that I had crossed the swamp above the ranger station in the canoe and could not get back without it. Their cultural stories often express continuity and fluidity between humans and other life that enables a degree of transcendence of the individual's death. But putting that insight into words can take years. I was alive! He had heard my faint call for help, and after some time, a rescue craft appeared.