" Luxury fashion labels are buying up saltwater crocodile farms in Australia to meet demand for crocodile skin products.Australia has 14 commercial crocodile farms that export millions of dollars worth of croc leather each year.
It is estimated that Australia's saltwater crocodiles produce up to 10 per cent of the world's croc leather.
International fashion houses are major buyers of the skins, but crocodile farmer John Lever, based in Rockhampton in central Queensland, says that is starting to change.
"Now that's not sufficient - they want the guarantee of getting the skins so they're buying into the farms as well," he said.
Mr Lever says he is approached at least once a month by foreign investors keen to buy his Rockhampton-based farm.
"A cartel of buyers could form a monopoly and control the price of the skins," he said.
He says he is concerned local crocodile farmers will lose their independence, and is urging caution.
Business consultant Jeff McClure says as high-end fashion houses struggle to meet demand for crocodile skin products, they are looking to farms in Queensland and the Northern Territory to help guarantee supply.
Mr McClure says Louis Vuitton has bought a farm in Innisfail in far north Queensland, while Hermes has bought a farm in Cairns, also in the state's north, and two in the Northern Territory.
"To ensure their own supply from egg right through until finished skin," Mr McClure said.
He says it is good for the future of crocodile farms, but says it may weaken farmers' ability to set prices."
Designer labels buy up Aussie croc farms