A shocking photo of a dead 14-foot crocodile dwarfing a fully-grown man has surfaced on social media, sparking an investigation.
The image, which was posted online and later removed, was taken near Innisfail in north Queensland, Australia.
The man in the picture is not believed to have any involvement in the crocodile’s death.
A spokesman for the Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES) said the predator appeared to have been shot.
The organisation said: “Community members are reminded that crocodiles are a threatened species and should not be approached or interfered with.
“In Queensland the illegal taking of a crocodile carries a maximum penalty of $28,383 (£15,830).”
The slaughter of alpha male crocodiles can lead to increased aggression from other males as they compete for supremacy.
Following a similar killing last year, Michael Joyce of the DES warned: “People need to clearly understand the death of this animal has changed the balance of the crocodile population.
“We can expect increased aggressive activity by younger male crocodiles.
“That’s because they will be competing to take the dominant position which is now vacant.”
Officials were called to recover the estuarine crocodile’s body from the banks of the South Johnstone River.
Investigators have appealed for anyone with information about the creature’s death to come forward.