Australia to name wildlife reserve after Steve Irwin

The Australian government has created a 135,000-hectare national park in northern Queensland and will name it after the late Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin.

The Australian government has created a135,000-hectare national park in northern Queensland and will name it after Steve Irwin, the late Crocodile Hunter.

Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull announcedthe governmentwould buy the land and establish a scientific research centre at a cost of $6 million Australian.

The Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve, northeast of Weipa on Cape York Peninsula, will be run by the Irwin family, ownerof theAustralia Zoo on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.

His wife, Terri Irwin, was accompanied by children Bindi and Robert, and Steve's father Bob Irwin for Sunday's announcement at the zoo.

"This will become the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve, a permanent memorial managed by the Irwin family trust for environmental purposes to fulfil Steve's vision that we can conserve and protect Australia's special environments by acquiring it and preserving it forever," Turnbull said.

Irwin, a conservationist and wildlife enthusiast who hosted the popular TV show Crocodile Hunter, was killed by a stingray barb while shooting a nature special last September.

"Steve Irwin had a long-held dream for this region to become a wildlife sanctuary, and Terri and the family have worked tirelessly to turn this dream into reality," Turnbull said.

Terri Irwin said the family would protect wetlands and forest in the region bordered by the Wenlock River.

"Steve was in awe of the prolific wildlife of the Wenlock and Ducie rivers bordering the reserve, and he would have been proud to see the property protected as a wildlife reserve," she said.

The family plans to control feral animals and protect habitats to preserve the endangered northern quoll, a carnivorous marsupial, and the speartooth shark.

A scientific research centre in collaboration with the University of Queensland and other research organizations would also be established on the land, she said.

Prime Minister John Howard said the new park was an important addition to Australia's national reserve system, "and is a fitting tribute to a passionate environmentalist and a great Australian."

With files from the Associated Press