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  • Daniel Kim

Steve Irwin: A Paradigm for Wildlife Conservation

By Daniel Kim

“We don’t own the planet Earth, we belong to it. And we must share it with our wildlife.” Such words of wisdom belong to none other than the late Steve Irwin, an iconic wildlife conservationist of his generation. Dubbed the “Crocodile Hunter,” Irwin demonstrated unrivaled passion and devotion to his work, prioritizing the conservation of nature with such enthusiasm as to captivate viewers across the entire globe. As he rallied an army of youthful conservationists eager to make a change, Irwin reminded us of the value of restoring beauty in a world lost of its former grace.

Irwin was born on February 22, 1962, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. An avid lover of wildlife from his youth, Irwin quickly rose to international prominence following the debut of his TV series The Crocodile Hunter. The show featured weekly adventures of Irwin fearlessly approaching and interacting with notoriously dangerous animals, and at its peak, aired in more than 200 countries. At first, audiences were understandably taken aback by Irwin’s sheer bravery, but such perplexion soon evolved into admiration. A charismatic entertainer, Irwin kept viewers on the edge of their seats as he provided endless thrill and excitement. In one particular episode, Irwin played with an Inland Tapian, a species of extremely dangerous snake whose venom is so toxic that just one bite is enough to kill at least 100 human adults. But perhaps more importantly, Irwin depicted nature in its most pure and undiluted form, and in doing so, he allowed many to understand the need to conserve wildlife. In a deeply emotional segment, Irwin mourned the loss of one of his crocodiles, Mary. He spoke of her like a close friend and even gave her a eulogy.

Unfortunately, Irwin’s dangerous and risky experiences eventually caught up to him, as he was pierced and shortly killed thereafter by a stingray while filming a wildlife documentary in 2006. Truly, his death epitomized the tragedy—or beauty—of “dying doing what one loves.” However, Irwin’s legacy undoubtedly lives on. He had a resounding impact on the wildlife conservation movement by inspiring millions to become mindful of the world they live in. It was, therefore, only fitting for his fellow activists to return their gratitude in the form of dedicating a mosaic of rainforests, wetlands, and savannas in his honor. Located on the Cape York Peninsula, the Steven Irwin Wildlife Reserve serves as a haven for the natural world today.

Irwin’s message appears to have since been lost in a sea of disconcertment, however. Many individuals act in their own interest, and only a few have echoed Irwin’s selfless role of rallying support for the conservation of wildlife. This is especially concerning in the modern world, as environmental issues such as deforestation are ever more prominent. Therefore, it is imperative that we counteract any actions that serve to threaten the environment. For the sake of preserving the earth’s natural beauty, we need to follow in the footsteps of Irwin and make an attempt to save a world that is on the verge of collapsing.

So much of what is good in this world appears to have been lost today, but it may not be too late to rectify the harm we have collectively levied on it. Steve Irwin may be gone, but his contributions to our understanding of our planet must be emboldened in our minds to give us a fighting chance at rescuing our world.


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