The Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve was established in 2007, to recognise Steve’s contributions to conservation.
While the surrounding area has been severely altered by mining, the 330,000-acre reserve acts as a stronghold for native fauna and flora.
Scientists from around the world have been overwhelmed by the area’s unique ecosystems. Recent studies have included hydrology, herpetology, ornithology, ichthyology, botany, pharmacology, mammalogy and arachnology.
The Wenlock River catchment makes up part of the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve and has the richest diversity of freshwater fish of all Australian rivers. Over 48 species of fish have been recorded in the river.
Australia Zoo and The University of Queensland have initiated a number of research projects that take place on the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve. We are currently tracking the movements of saltwater crocodiles, whiptail rays, bull sharks and the critically endangered spear-tooth shark.
The wildlife reserve and surrounding waterways are vital for the sustainability of saltwater crocodiles and is home to one of the largest breeding populations of these crocodiles on earth.
A new sub-ecosystem was created to describe the forests that surround the perched bauxite springs that are found on the reserve. One of the spring forests is so unique that it has been identified as one of a kind, with no other similar ecosystem known to exist.
Rangers on the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve use traditional fire management techniques that have been passed down through generations of indigenous Australians. In 2014, the rangers hosted a fire workshop to assist traditional owners to pass on their knowledge to younger generations.
Many of the animal species that are found along the Wenlock and in Cape York are found nowhere else in Australia but are also native to nearby Papua New Guinea.
The Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve supports 35 different ecosystems, providing habitat and refuge for at least 157 native bird species, 43 reptile, 21 amphibian, 20 mammal and 48 freshwater fish species – a total of 282 vertebrate species.