Australia Zoo staff jump into a new year of crocodile research

The Australia Zoo croc team set up their first trap on the 2014 croc trip.

The Australia Zoo croc team set up their first trap on the 2014 croc trip.
The Australia Zoo croc team set up their first trap on the 2014 croc trip.

The Irwin family and the Australia Zoo crocodile research team have made it to Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve, kicking off another year of ground-breaking crocodile research.
Joined by Professor Craig Franklin and his team from the University of Queensland, Australia Zoo croc experts will once again use satellite tracking devices to determine new information about the species. Past trips have taught the team that crocodiles are in-fact judicious thinkers and affectionate partners with incredible homing systems – and in 2014, the team are keen to discover more!
Set on a 333,000 acre conservation property in Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula, the 2014 croc research team will spend the next month camping in the beautiful surrounds of the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve. Home to many unique species of flora and fauna and dedicated to the original Crocodile Hunter, the team are eager to continue Steve’s legacy and passion for crocodile research.
The annual project has seen Australia Zoo pour more than $4 million into croc research over the past ten years, and has taught people previously unknown facts about crocodiles. It is now understood that crocs can hold their breath for more than 7 hours at a time and can travel up to 60KM in one day. This research is directly applied to Australia Zoo’s international crocodile rescue work, protecting people and crocodilians around the world.
Currently, 114 crocs on the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve have tracking devices. Using data transmitted by satellite back to the laboratory and displayed on Google Earth – the croc research team continue to discover new information on their behaviour, position and physiology.
Terri Irwin said she was thrilled to be spending the next few weeks on the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve.
“Each year we break new ground in crocodilian research, and this year is particularly exciting as it’s our first trip to the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve since the Queensland Government declared it safe from strip mining,” Mrs Irwin said.
“This result means that all the resources we’d been channelling into the battle to save the reserve can now be focused on other key conservation projects, such as the new GPS transmitters we are using this year to tag the crocs.
“With integrated depth sensors, these high precision tags allow us to not only track the movement of crocs, but also record the animal’s diving behaviour. They will be used to help us understand how wild female crocs select breeding locations and nesting areas, and the lengths sub-adult crocs go to in order to find new territories. These are areas that there is currently very little knowledge about.”
Crocs were Steve’s core passion, beginning formal crocodile research in 1996. The Irwin family continue his legacy each year on their annual trip to the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve, with his renowned capture and study techniques – the most advanced in the world, still proudly used by the Australia Zoo croc research team today.
While the 2014 trip is well under-way, and the chance for people to sponsor and name their own crocodile is gone for this year, there are plenty of other ways to help break new ground in crocodile research. For more information on how to contribute, please email croctrip@australiazoo.com.au or phone (07) 5436 2000 today.
Stay up to date on the 2014 croc trip via daily news and photographs posted on our website:www.australiazoo.com.au/conservation/projects/crocodiles/