With the death, by Sting Ray stinging, of Steve Irwin in 2006, couch potatoes lost a beloved star prankster. The natural world, to its immense relief, lost a bothersome pest. And naturalists, most of them wallflowers who shied away from television cameras, must have smiled smugly at the warming absence of the celebrated television personality known as the Crocodile Hunter, who was associated with all kinds of derring-do involving lizards, snakes, crocodiles and a variety of other wildlife that begged to be left alone.
September 4 marked two years of the death of Steve Irwin. While tributes poured for this dubious wildlifer, the voice of reason amid all the reactionary mourning was that of Germaine Greer. Hers was a bloodthirsty, controversial little obit, but one full of razor-sharp observation and incisive commentary that was unwilling to let a dead man off the hook. And rightly so. For what we must really remember Irwin for are the things we cannot dare forget. Lest history go photocopy itself.
Here’s an excerpt:
What Irwin never seemed to understand was that animals need space. The one lesson any conservationist must labour to drive home is that habitat loss is the principal cause of species loss. There was no habitat, no matter how fragile or finely balanced, that Irwin hesitated to barge into, trumpeting his wonder and amazement to the skies. There was not an animal he was not prepared to manhandle. Every creature he brandished at the camera was in distress. Every snake badgered by Irwin was at a huge disadvantage, with only a single possible reaction to its terrifying situation, which was to strike. Easy enough to avoid, if you know what’s coming. Even my cat knew that much.
Read the whole piece here. It’s worth bookmarking for life. So that we don’t offer unwitting or involuntary patronage to Irwin and his teeming tribe of clones.