Croc catching on the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve

By Chrissie Goldrick 28 August 2014
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The Australia Zoo team, led by Terri Irwin, expertly catch a wild crocodile to record its measurements and health

A COLLECTIVE INTAKE of breath hushes the small crowd of onlookers as we nervously watch Terri Irwin coax the creature out into the open. The lull is brief, for suddenly the crocodile springs from his metal prison and unleashes his fury, trying desperately to extricate himself from the ropes.

The ground beneath my feet vibrates with every roll as the hapless creature thrashes and writhes, binding the ropes ever more tightly around his snout. He expends all available energy in the effort and eventually gives up and quietens. It’s the moment the jump crew has been waiting for.

Once more, Terri issues the instruction, and they leap forward as one, landing on the crocodile’s back, swiftly taping his jaws shut and fitting a blindfold over his eyes. It’s time for the drama to cease and the science to begin.

The group, which includes Terri Irwin and her children, Bindi and Robert, spends a month here in the middle of the dry season each year to monitor the river’s crocodile population.

The reserve was acquired in July 2007 after the federal government signalled its wish to honour recently deceased Steve Irwin by renaming a national park in his honour. Terri requested a more hands-on memorial to her husband.

Read the full story in #122 of Australian Geographic.