International Crocodile Rescue (ICR) aims to save and conserve crocodilians worldwide through both rescue efforts and educational means. Comprised of over a hundred professional staff, the ICR team is highly trained in capturing, restraining, and transporting crocodiles, as well as educating communities.
ICR was first founded in the 1970s when the newly-opened Australia Zoo was used by the Irwins to shelter crocodiles that were at risk of being shot. Later in the 1980s, the implementation of the East Coast Crocodile Management Program saw the capturing of many “rogue” crocodiles and their relocation to more uninhabited areas where human-Crocodile interaction was unlikely. Whenever these crocodiles could not be released back into the wild, due to the nature of the area or the circumstances surrounding the crocodile, Australia Zoo will become their new home.
As humans continue to encroach on crocodile territory, human-Crocodile conflict exacerbates and this threatens the crocodiles’ survival even more. Hence, capturing and relocating crocodiles alone cannot be a viable approach to crocodile conservation.
Steve identified that the best way to resolve human-Crocodile conflicts was not to remove the crocodiles from human settlements, if possible, but to educate locals on how they could easily coexist with crocodiles. Steve and his ICR team seek to improve people’s negative perceptions of crocodiles via displays and demonstrations with the crocodiles. The team also underscores the importance of having these apex predators in our communities. This educational approach has seen great success: Many times, education has transformed the situation from one that is of fear and repulsion against crocodiles, to the appreciation of these creatures and the desire to coexist with them. In fact, many Australians today identify Saltwater Crocodiles as an Australian icon, alongside the much celebrated iconic animals like koalas and kangaroos.
“Steve Irwin helped us understand those things that many people thought were a nuisance at best, a horror at worst. That made him a great educator and conservationist.”
– David Suzuki, Canadian environmentalist
Today the ICR supports the management and conservation of crocodilians beyond Australia, to areas in Sri Lanka, Mexico, the South Pacific, USA, Zambia, Southeast Asia, and South Africa.