Published today online, and freely available to all at PLoS ONE is Steve Irwin’s final paper. This paper is a must read for all, especially those interested in animal navigation. The study aims “to record and interpret the movements of translocated large male estuarine crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) after their release and to investigate their homing behaviour, if any, using satellite telemetry.”
Read, M. A., Grigg, G. C., Irwin, S. R., Shanahan, D., Franklin, C.E. (2007) Satellite Tracking Reveals Long Distance Coastal Travel and Homing by Translocated Estuarine Crocodiles, Crocodylus porosus. PLoS ONE 2(9): e949. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000949
Read et al. used the latest GIS techniques and satellite tags, attached to captured and translocated estuarine crocodiles (by the late Steve Irwin) to track their movement over several months and a wide geographical range. It was shown that:
“The animals all moved extensively within river systems, undertook substantial coastal voyages, and displayed remarkable navigational abilities. All of the crocodiles returned to their sites of capture, even Crocodile C which was translocated a long distance and across a major geographic feature (the Cape York Peninsula).”
“This study confirms that the practice of translocating ‘problem’ C. porosus to a remote site is very likely to be ineffective. If a problem crocodile animal is living in an area where conflict with humans is likely, then other options need to be employed”
One possible solution could be to change future house building policies to take into account, current and potential crocodile habitats; then there would not be a problem of human/crocodile interaction. After all, the majority of these conflicts are caused by human encroachment on the crocodile’s habitat rather than the reverse situation.