|Rescuing wildlife has always been second nature to the Irwin family but when it comes to Crocodiles they really take it to heart!!|
(Click photos to enlarge)
Steve arriving back at camp
Since 1970, even before Saltwater Crocodiles were officially protected by government legislation, Bob & Lyn Irwin were concerned for the survival of the species. On many occasions when crocodiles were under threat from human interference, they captured and relocated animals to protect them from being shot - the first utilization of the Australia Zoo's International Crocodile Rescue (ICR). By 1974 the Saltwater Crocodile, almost hunted to extinction, was finally protected by authorities. However when populations finally did begin to recover in the 1980's, public pressure lead to the development of the East Coast Crocodile Management Program. Within this program a number of facilities were asked to remove so called 'problem crocodiles' from areas populated by humans. The criteria was broad with almost every crocodile being treated as a 'problem animal'.
Steve & Terri
Isn't she gorgeous!
Hundreds of Saltwater Crocodiles were captured, many by Steve himself, to be relocated to areas where future conflict with humans was not a problem. For some, this task was almost impossible as the nature of the area or the circumstances around the crocodile would not allow relocation.
A younger Steve doing his job
Steve & Wes 'down & dirty' for the cause
Australia Zoo was prompt to offer assistance to those animals unable to be relocated by bringing them back to the Zoo. This protected them from their only alternative fate - DEATH. Today you may know some of these famous individuals as they continue to help their wild relatives by educating the world on how easy it is to coexist with crocodilians. Some were not so lucky, ending up in farms to be turned into boots, bags and belts.
Setting up a trap
Steve & Terri check a trap
It has taken us many years of persistant education through displays and demonstrations to help the public become better informed. We're proud that the perception of these amazing animals has dramatically improved. Today many Australians treasure the Saltwater Crocodile and are proud to think of them as an icon right along side the koala and kangaroo.
Despite this change of attitude and the best efforts of the Queensland wildlife authorities, the ever growing human population on the East coast is continuing to encroach on crocodile territory and the conflict between people and crocodiles is continuing.
Acco puts on an explosive hit
Myself, Terri and Wes lead a highly trained capture team of over a hundred strong. The team is trained in capture, restraining, transportation and education. The equipment includes 6 fully rigged 4WD vehicles, 2 light trucks, 6 fully rigged boats - ranging from 10 to 24 foot, traps, crates, air-freight charter and now Croc One, is all on standby 24 hours a day/365 days a year.
Vehicles used for Princess Charlotte Bay - August 2005
We utilise a big range of boats, which is determined
Nowadays we've got Croc One to take
If a crocodile or group of crocodiles is confirmed as a bone fide nuisance or threat, the ICR jumps into action. The ICR crew will liaise with local rangers to ensure a positive outcome for both the crocodiles and the people concerned. Trapping and removing large problem crocodiles is only half the battle. If and when they need to be captured and/or removed, the people most concerned with the presence of the crocodile will be involved, thus addressing the core issue of the problem. Once you've met a large Saltwater Crocodile it is impossible to ignore the power and beauty it possesses. Situations can lead from fear and hatred to absolute awe and pride. More often than not the very people who requested the animal to be removed want it to be returned - the perfect scenario!!
Capture in progress
Capture under control
Education to promote the understanding of the natural environment and emphasizing the importance of apex predators is also essential. Australia Zoo follows up all of its rescue efforts with ongoing education and keeping in close communication with those involved for years after the capture. As well as this, the Zoo continuously promotes the overall conservation of wildlife to the millions of people who visit Australia Zoo at Beerwah, Queensland.
Australia Zoo is committed to the challenge of crocodilian conservation. My team can be activated with a single phone call, each and every croc we capture has our total respect - we love them all.