I've just got back from Africa with an “Owie”! The film crew and I shot some wildlife documentary films in Madagascar during October. Our main focus was Lemurs and Chameleons. Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world with a land mass a little larger than France. It is home to all of the world's Lemur (primates) species and almost all of the world's Chameleon species. It was an extraordinary film shoot swinging through the trees one on one with very rare wildlife. I fell in love with the Sifacas (Lemur species) and the Panther Chameleons who bit me at every opportunity.

Next we flew to Namibia to film in the driest, oldest of deserts – the Namib Desert. I was really enjoying the hot day and hostile terrain when I fell off a rocky cliff trying to catch snakes and lizards. As I fell, I felt something sharp penetrate my hand. Two sharp spikes off a tree snapped off inside my left hand between my index finger and thumb. “Youch – that's gonna hurt”. Pulling the two rather long spikes out, I didn't take much notice of the tree that they belonged to. I simply carried on thinking nothing of it, as I get stabbed, staked, cut and busted up by tree branches, bushes, cacti and barbs constantly. That night whilst out in the desert with my head torch hunting for snakes, I started to feel really sick and my hand and arm blew up to the size of a football. It was then that I knew I was in for a fair deal of pain. The swelling, fever and sickness continued for almost a week. When I got back to Australia, I was diagnosed with Necrosis (Gangrene). The injury was black and continually weeping blood. The poison in the sap of the tree must have been highly toxic as the two splinters I pulled out of my hand were quite old and dry and snapped off easily. Apparently the Kalahari Bushman, who used to run the Namib Desert, would use the sap from the poisonous trees like the Euphorbia plants to coat their arrows to kill the animals they hunted for food.

I'm well and truly on the road to recovery. Everyone here at the Zoo is teasing me about how quickly I heal. It is rumored that I heal with alien-like powers and if I have my fingers or an arm amputated, I'd simply grow another one, similar to a lizard regenerating its tail.

Steve Irwin