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Steve Irwin: The Crocodile Hunter

The 15th of November marks Steve Irwin day. Steve Irwin, the famous Australian ‘crocodile hunter’, was a zookeeper and conservationist. However, in 2006, he died doing what he loved. He was filming a documentary in the Great barrier reef when he was injured and ultimately killed by a stingray. So, what exactly caused his death, and how common are these injuries?

Irwin was swimming in chest-deep water when he approached a short-tail stingray, over 2 metres in length. Irwin got too close to the aquatic animal and the stingray’s barb pierced his heart causing him to bleed to death. CPR was attempted by the accompanying film crew but to no avail. These stingrays are normally considered to be placid, harmless creatures hence why Irwin swam so close to them to obtain footage for his show. The Stingray has venomous tail spines, known as barbs. The tail of the stingray penetrated Irwin’s chest, stabbing him ‘with hundreds of strikes in a few seconds. Between the venom and the penetrating chest wound, Irwin had very little hope of survival. The damage to his heart was too extensive and he died aged 44.

Animals are responsible for millions of deaths each year. Mosquitos are minuscule animals but are responsible for the death of up to one million humans annually. Rather than killing directly, these mosquitos transmit deadly pathogens from person to person, such as malaria. Freshwater snails kill up to 200,000 people every year as they contain thousands of deadly parasites. The disease they carry is the second most socio-economically devastating parasitic disease to malaria. Venomous snakes, scorpions, and roundworms are also responsible for killing many innocent people each year. To round up the list of the top 10 most deadly animals, we have saltwater crocodiles, elephants, and hippopotami', killing hundreds of people each year.

Sharks aren’t even on the list! They on average only kill 6 people per annum and lions only 22 people a year. The bigger the animal does not mean they are more dangerous. Cows are just as dangerous as lions, killing on average 22 people a year. This means you should be more afraid of Daisy the Cow than a great white shark! Our beloved dogs, specifically those infected with the rabies virus, are very deadly. About 35,000 deaths can be attributed to rabies and 99% of these cases were caused by dogs.

One you might not think of in this list is us – humans! Biologically speaking we are mammals, so we are animals too and we are the second most deadly animal out there. Our own worst enemy.

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