Steve Irwin put the map of Australia in the household of every Indian. Australia, after their cricketers, was represented in the hearts of Indians by the fearless "Crocodile Hunter". This man handled his dangerous friends - animals that can kill human beings within 30 sec, with the aplomb of a magician conjuring up new tricks. He would wrestle with a giant crocodile and come out unscathed and exclaim, "Crikey! he almost got me."
Today, Steve Irwin died from a chest wound received while filming a Bull Sting Ray. It seems that in the history of recorded deaths in Australia, only two or three people have died after getting stung by a Sting Ray till now. This is incredibly freakish! The most fearless man on this planet met his match in an innocuous animal that has not been known to attack human beings. Steve was making a documentary on the Sting Ray. From the various news reports filed all around the world, here is a brief narration of the sequence of events
that led to his death.
"The footage shows him swimming in the water, the ray stopped and turned and that was it," said boatowner Peter West, who viewed the footage afterwards.
"There was no blood in the water, it was not that obvious ... something happened with this animal that made it rear and he was at the wrong position at the wrong time and if it hit him anywhere else we would not be talking about a fatality."
Irwin was shooting a documentary on dangerous marine life, in shallow water at Batt Reef, about 32 nautical miles offshore, at about 11am.
...Footage of the attack shows Irwin swimming above a 2.5m stingray before it turns on him and sends a poisonous barb through his heart.
Steve Irwin was a fearless, intelligent, obsessesive, and an incredible human being. Above all, he was a gifted showman. The amount of material, in terms of visual footage, documentaries, and the books, he leaves behind in order to protect the the animal and plant kingdom from extinction is unmatched. He understood the role that the animals play to make this planet a more livable place. He was the ambassador of the animal kingdom in the terrified minds of the human beings, forever feeling inferior to the physical prowess of the beasts that share this earth along with us. He tried his best to make us rational and face our fears.
My interactions with animals have been limited to household cats and dogs. I have also had some interactions with the mischievous monkeys of Varanasi. In spite of such limited exposure, I have developed a sense of empathy for the animal world. I believe in the right of the animals to live a dignified life in their habitats. This feeling of love and deep respect for the nature has come from the countless programs shown on television channels like the Animal Planet, Discovery, and the National Geographic. Steve Irwin and his fellow documentary makers showed me the vistas of a life that I always wanted to lead in the back of my mind. Watching the Crocodile Hunter perform his daredevil acts gave me a sense of accomplishment vicariously. I guess, I never grew out of the thirst for adventure that I dreamt of when I was a kid.
The Crocodile Hunter made us love other creatures of God instead of fearing or hating them. He understood the future of this planet - a peaceful coexistence between man and the other species of the animal kingdom. He made us wish for a life filled with adventures where we have constant friction with death. I embellished my life with his exploits vicariously. Here is wishing the Crocodile Hunter a bon voyage to the other world. May he rest in peace!