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Australian

WILDLIFE NEWS A monthly Magazine

Issue 9 December 2012

A SYMBOL OF PRIDE


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Welcome to issue 9. Ramblings from the Editor.. You know, it’s been said that we know more about outer space than we do about our oceans. There are vast areas of sea bed, so deep, that no one has ever been there. There are incredible creatures that look like they’ve been born out of the imagination of a sci-fi writer and there are discoveries made that rewrite the history books.

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Isn’t it just a little bit exciting?

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whether it’s kangaroos and koalas or centipedes and spiders - every species plays its’ part. In this issue we are going to be taking a look at the insect world and how important these over-looked and often despised creatures are. The insect world is ENORMOUS! And also extremely important in the great scheme of things. More on insects later.

We take a look at Animals In War Zones this issue, especially captive One of these discoveries has to be the zoo animals. Sometimes, animals and living fossil fish, the coelacanth. This wildlife are the last thought during ‘dinosaur’ fish was thought to have times of conflict but there are become extinct around 80 million (Coelacanth ) remarkable people out there going years ago but had been around as Well, it’s been a very exciting month into theatre of war situations, putting long ago as 360 million years. The their lives on the line in order to save with the launch of the website and re-discovery of this species is even animals lives. There are also FaceBook page. Both have been more extraordinary as it seems to received really well and I am looking countless stories of soldiers who have changed very little from its’ forward to watching them grow into befriend, care for and rescue animals dinosaur relatives. in the line of fire. It’s almost an a platform from which we can help oxymoron- the irony of war. In 1938, in South Africa, a fish was make a difference to wildlife caught that no-one could identify. conservation. My featured wildlife heroes this issue The East London Museum was It’s really exciting to be in touch with are Stella and Alan Reid. They have contacted and the Director, Miss the most amazing sanctuary and their Marjorie Courtney-Latimer,went and like minded people all over the world story is one of the most moving I and to hear from new readers who, inspected it. She drew a sketch and by their own admission, had no idea think you will ever come across. wrote to a prominent south African ichthyologist, Dr J.L.B Smith. From how critical some of the conservation I would like to thank them both, very fossils at his disposal he identified it and care work is that happens here in much, for allowing me to feature Australia. A number of our over-seas them in this issue. And, I would like as a Coelacanth. readers have been really shocked to wish Alan a speedy recovery from Since 1938, the search for living about what’s happening to our koalas his recent illness. coelacanths has continued and in and bats - it’s not great when we The article is on pages 16-17, please recent years it indeed has been found, have to say, this is real - this is not make sure you visit their website alive and well, off the coast of South hype - we are on a collision course Africa and Sulawesi in Indonesia. with extinction of some species. But where you will find out more about the more we work together, the more Wildhaven Sanctuary. What amazes me is that it has we can alert people to what’s Until next issue folks, stay safe, keep managed to survive the last 360 happening, then the more likely it a close eye on our wildlife and have million years, almost unchanged and will be that we can change the course a very Happy Christmas. without us knowing about it. Doesn’t of what could only be described as an it make you wonder what else lives Claire Ed. ecological disaster. Bob Irwin in our oceans that we don’t know describes ecology like a spiders web about? - if you start to pluck elements out of Maybe the tales of the Loch Ness the ecological structure inevitably it monster are more than just tales? will collapse. That’s why we must endeavor to protect all native species 2

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The Red Legged Pademelon

Claire Smith Photography

For anyone who’s never seen one of these beautiful little marsupials then I hope this article will go some way towards encouraging you to find out more about them.

Claire Smith Photography

I was lucky enough to get these shots really early one morning in September, at Mary Cairn Cross Scenic Reserve on the Sunshine Coast. Pademelons are very shy creatures so you have to be prepared to wait in Pademelon territory if you want to see one. They are rain forest dwellers and are masters of camouflage. They eat through the day and rest up in the afternoon. When resting they have a funny habit of leaning up against a rock, head down and tail between their legs! At night, they move to the edge of the forest to continue foraging for food.

Claire Smith Photography

This little rainforest wallaby is the smallest of the macropod family and stands approx. 40-55cm when up-right. They are, for the most part, solitary creatures and although they will sometimes feed as a group I have never personally witnessed it. They are delightful to watch and sadly their numbers are decreasing due to habitat clearance. In NSW they are listed as vulnerable. The pademelon has developed an incredibly efficient birth procedure. Most macropods have a reproductive system known as embryonic diapause which delays embryo development.. With the newborn joey relying on the pouch for up to 7 months, it is not a good plan to give birth again so soon. Instead, the new embryo or blastocyst is put on hold - the youngster suckling at a teat causes the blastocyst to remain in a state of suspended animation until the juvenile is ready to vacate the pouch. Development then resumes and another pademelon is born. In this way, the mother has three dependants - a young hoppy one, a pouch baby, and a stalled embryo in her womb. She is even able to supply two different types of milk at the same time. One for the developing baby the other, a higher energy milk, for the maturing joey. Ed WILDLIFE NEWS

Claire Smith Photography

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ANIMALS IN WAR ZONES

In early 2003, the American coalition forces invaded Iraq. South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony realized there would be no one looking after the Baghdad Zoo, the biggest zoo in the Middle East. He immediately left Thula Thula Game Reserve, his home in Zululand, South Africa, and headed for warblockaded Kuwait.

Extending the rescue initiative far beyond the borders of the zoo, the team conducted bold raids to rescue starving and dehydrated bears, wolves, monkeys, camels, and many other animals from horrific menageries in dangerous areas of Baghdad’s red zones, bringing them back to the zoo where they could be properly cared for.

Once there, Lawrence made his way into Iraq, becoming the first civilian (excluding media) to gain military access to Iraq and then, despite the extreme danger, simply hired a car and drove unarmed and unescorted 500 miles through the biggest war zone since Vietnam, right into the violent heart of Baghdad itself to bring relief to the animals.

Most amazingly the team located Saddam Hussein’s personal herd of Arabian horses, stolen during the invasion, and arranged an audacious military raid to retrieve them from the black market in the notorious Abu Ghraib area, and returned these priceless national treasures to the Iraqi people.

Confronted by an appalling situation at the zoo, cut off from the world and completely surrounded by fighting and looting, Lawrence and a few loyal Iraqi zoo workers overcame every “can’t be done”, to begin the extraordinary rescue initiative of the terrified and emaciated animals. Just finding and providing the most basic sustenance of food and water for the animals each day took heroic effort. Purchasing donkeys on the war torn streets to feed the lions and tigers and hauling buckets full of water from nearby canals, they kept the animals alive and defended the zoo against armed and aggressive looters. Lawrence found himself a bed with the fighting troops and the tank crews of the US 3rd Infantry Division in the Al Rashid Hotel, and allied individual soldiers, Army photographers and foreign mercenaries to his cause, gaining desperately needed help and protection. Lawrence persuaded these new friends, in their off time, to help him rescue abused lions, cheetahs, and ostriches in brave and daring escapades from the Hussein family palaces.

Lawrence’s work at the Baghdad Zoo earned him the coveted Earth Day Medal from the United Nations in New York. Lawrence’s experience is well documented in his book Babylon’s Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo., These experiences lead him down a new path. On his return from the Middle East Lawrence launched a unique new international environmental group, The Earth Organization. From the inception of The Earth Organization, it was clear that the only way to change the fate of animals in war zones would be to turn to the United Nations, the one body that has influence in conflict zones. And, thus, the Wildlife in War Zones draft resolution was born. As a foot note, prior to the war in Iraq there were 640 animals at the zoo - after 10 days of conflict only 30 remained. Sadly Lawrence Anthony passed away earlier this year. Ed Please visit www.wildlifeinwarzones.com and check out the draft resolution. Ed

US Army Captain William Sumner, who had been put in charge of the zoo area, joined him and together they became the "go to" guys at the Zoo. Brendan Whittington-Jones, Lawrence’s game reserve manager came out from South Africa to help, and together with Iraqi veterinarian Farah Murrani, and the few brave zoo staff, they formed an intrepid team which secured the zoo and somehow kept the remaining animals alive and the zoo safe in extreme circumstances. 4

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DMZ - AN UNLIKELY WILDLIFE HAVEN Ironic as it seems, the DMZ area between North and South Korea has become what can only be described as one of the most important habitats on earth. It measures four kilometres wide and 248 long . The demilitarized area acts as a buffer zone between the North and the South and for the last 60 years has been uninhabited by people - without people it has reverted back to it’s original state. There are mountains, swamps, plains, tidal marshes and lakes and this incredible habitat is home to 82 endangered species including the Amur Leopard. It is one of the most important areas of wildlife conservation but it’s geographical position makes it very difficult for any organisation to declare it a protected area. Part of the area is stating to be converted back to agricultural use. South Korea has sought international recognition of the DMZ region as a UNESCO biosphere reserve, but the UN body has demurred, citing territorial uncertainties among other factors.

If reunification were to happen before it receives the status of an internationally protected site, peace might end up destroying the very haven that war accidentally created. Generally speaking, however, war zones are not great places for wild or captive animals and in many parts of the world where people are struggling to survive, animals are not a top priority. There are organisations working to try and protect zoo animals during times of war but I fear that it’s going to be a long time before any kind of global agreement could be reached. In the mean time, there are people out there, like Lawrence, who put their lives on the line to keep animals safe during conflict. Ed

In a presentation to the congress in Jeju, the executive director of UNESCO's Natural Sciences Sector, Han Qunli, said this did not mean the area could not be granted special status in the future. "There is a promising long-term perspective in the DMZ – once all parties are convinced – that the area could be turned from a symbol of confrontation to a bridge of connection… and a best example of biodiversity conservation," Han said. Ironically, an enduring peace between North and South Korea could hold the biggest threat of all to the DMZ ecosystem in the form of eventual reunification of the peninsula.

www.wildlifeinwarzones.com WILDLIFE NEWS

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creepy crawlies For many people, insects conjure up images of big hairy spiders that send them screaming out of the house or things that make you itch and scratch, perhaps bothersome bugs that bite even - all in all, insects get a pretty hard time. Yet their world is a fascinating place and their anatomy & physiology sometimes defies everything we know to be true. LET’ BEGIN WITH CICADAS & THEIR SINGING! These strange insects, who spend the majority of their lives buried under ground, have developed an incredibly specialised way of creating sound. Cicadas love to sing - it’s all part of the mating routine and only the males do it. Some large species are capable of producing a noise intensity in excess of 120 dB at close range (this is approaching the pain threshold of the human ear, it’s about the same as a commercial aircraft taking off!). By comparison, some of the smaller species have songs so highly pitched it is completely out of the human hearing range.

Both male and female cicadas have organs for hearing. A pair of large, mirror-like membranes, the tympana, receive the sound. Now, this is where the cicada get really clever...The tympana are connected to an auditory organ by a short tendon. When a male sings, it creases the tympana so that it won't be deafened by its own noise. Now how amazing is that! You may have noticed that some cicada sing during the heat of the day. It is thought that they do this to deter birds, the noise must have an impact on the birds ears’. So, unless birds who prey on cicadas start wearing ear muffs then this looks like a victory to the insects!

David Gray

The very first time I hear cicadas sing was in Central Park, NY. I had no idea what this ‘electrical’ sound was and it wasn’t until I moved to Australia that I found out it was an insect! So sophisticated and specialised is the cicadas method of creating sound that research is still being conducted into understanding it.The organs which produce sound are the tymbals, a pair of ribbed membranes at the base of the abdomen. Contracting the abdominal muscles causes the tymbals to buckle inwards and in turn this produces a pulse of sound. By relaxing these muscles, the tymbals pop back to their original position. In some cicada species, a pulse of sound is produced as each rib buckles. But more research is needed before we fully understand how these small creatures can produce such incredible volume of sound. 6

Another really funky thing about cicadas is how long they spend underground. In Australia it’s between 6-7 years, however, in parts of America the cicada can remain buried for up to 17 years before it emerges to give us it’s debut performance. Now that’s amazing! So, next time you are getting really ticked off with these noisy creatures, have a thought for how truly incredible they are. Now, lets move onto another fascinating member of the insect family...ANTS! They occur in large numbers in all habitats and all regions. Ant communities change significantly when environmental conditions are altered. Consequently, the monitoring of ant communities has become an WILDLIFE NEWS


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creepy crawlies important component of environmental studies and research. A wide range of government and non-government agencies and private companies use the monitoring of ant communities to assist them in making decisions about managing the environment. This includes all kinds of areas, like mining for instance. It is well known that bush fires can and do cause significant and devastating damage to the environment, but properly managed fire can actually improve conditions for many plants and animals. The practice of ‘back-burning’ has existed for a long time and is an important part of managing our bush land. To determine optimal fire regimes and thus protect the environment, extensive studies have been completed to determine the effects of different burning practices. Ants have proven very useful in determining the effects of fire and thus in developing management strategies which minimise its impact. Ants tell us a great deal about the environment and without them we would know far less.

Claire Smith Photography

We have many, many types of ant here in Australia but for most of us, our contact with them is usually when we get bitten. Formic acid burns inside our skin, causing us to squeal in pain, jump up and down like we’ve been shot and reach for the Stingoes with one hand and a can of KILL ANYTHING THAT MOVES spray with the other...(actually, I am one of the unlucky people who swell up like a balloon)..but wait, let’s spare a thought for how amazing these small creatures are! They are, without doubt, super strong beyond belief! The fact that they can carry way beyond their own body weight, up to 50 times their own body weight infact. and also work as a team to move larger objects is an incredible feat of evolution. They are the super weight lifters of not only the insect world but the entire animal world. So, let’s compare this to a person. I weigh around 58 kilos..so, if I was to become an ant for the day I would be expected to carry a small car, over a distance of maybe seven to eight miles and possibly straight up into a tree! Now we can see how strong these little guys really are. There is even evidence from Cambridge University in the UK that a South American ant was able to lift 100 x it’s own body weight. Next time you get an ant bite just try and remember how useful they’ve been to to us, how organised their colonies are and how nature has made them the iron men of the environment! Ed WILDLIFE NEWS

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Major new discovery! While I was out bush walking the other weekend, I came across a large gum tree. I had been looking for signs of gliders on the trunks, bite marks, claw scratches...and then I saw this! A message, obviously left by a love sick greater glider, Missy. How amazed was I to learn that gliders could bite in English!

Claire Smith Photography

I have sent my findings to all the top brass and am hoping National Geographic will ask me to make a programme about it. Ed

Emergies and Support

It's an unfortunate fact of life that our native fauna are constantly in danger, whether it be from land clearing, road accidents to natural disasters. RSPCA Qld has some simple steps to help you help our fellow Aussies if and when they are in need. What to do in a wildlife emergency? If you find an orphaned, sick or injured animal: 1.

Keep calm and assess the situation.

2.

If it is an orphaned bird, check to see if its parents are around. The bird will be much happier if it is reunited with its natural parents.

3.

If it is a small, easily handled animal, place it in a box and put it somewhere dark and quiet and out of reach of children, pets and other disturbances.

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If it is a large animal, place a box or washing basket over the top of it to calm the animal down.

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Call for help! Call 1300 ANIMAL to report sick, injured or orphaned animals to the RSPCA - anything from marine strandings through to roadside injuries.

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You can also bring the animal in to any RSPCA Animal Care Centre if you have access to transport and are happy to handle the animal.

If you are interested in helping to rescue more wildlife, why not register to become a 1300-ANIMAL Wildlife Hero? RSPCA Qld is passionate in our cause and while many landmarks have been met for animal welfare since the organisations establishment, there are many more that need to be met. In which case, at all all levels (individually, community-based, government-based and Australia wide), we need to acknowledge the need for better support and the continued restoration of animals and their habitats.

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Our areas of focus in wildlife preservation: •

RSPCA Qld is devoted in our ambition to protect the animals of Australia for generations to come. Through this, RSPCA recognises human activities, such as land clearing, urban or industrial developments, agricultural activities and transport, have the potential to have a negative impact on wild animals in many different ways, both directly and indirectly. In which case, people have a duty to ensure that activities conducted are done so in a way that causes as little injury, suffering or distress to animals and their habitats as possible.

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the viability of an ecosystem and protecting the welfare of individual animals. RSPCA aims to ensure that harmful development causes as little suffering to animals or negative consequences for the viability of a given population as possible. These areas, if met, will greatly change the outlook of many of the wildlife of Queensland and Australia. These small acts can mean a better future and a more stable environment for everyone.

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Claire Smith Photography

Claire Smith Photography

What has the 1300 ANIMAL program done for wildlife preservation?

Before the establishment of 1300 ANIMAL and Wildlife Rescue support, close to two million animals RSPCA supports the use of would die on Queensland roads every independent environmental year. Since its establishment, impact assessments to RSPCA now care for over 15,300 determine the potential of any wildlife patients and have facilitated significant new development the rescue of over 30,000 animals or activities to adversely state-wide that the public had impact on the welfare of wild reported to 1300 ANIMAL as sick, animals, threaten the injured, or abandoned. continued survival of a species, or significantly alter As more and more volunteers sign up existing ecosystems. for Wildlife Heroes to support the RSPCA, the amount of animals being Where development projects rescued and cared for in Queensland identify threats to the welfare has significantly grown. As the state of wild animals, conditions of care being provided to our must be placed on the Wildlife is improving, so is the development to mitigate these community awareness and support threats. The RSPCA believes being generated for RSPCA. If you that in circumstances where think you have what it takes to be a mitigation of these threats is Wildlife Hero click below to find out not possible or reasonable, more. the development should not go ahead.

Claire Smith Photography

volunteer program here.

Consideration of wild animal welfare requires finding a balance between maintaining

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FOR ALL CREATURES GREAT & SMALL 9


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from the south east asian jungle to the fashion runways of the world At a slaughterhouse, deep in the Javanese jungle, bloodstained hands untie a wriggling sack and pull out a tenfoot long python. The snake is stunned with a blow to the head from the back of a machete and a hose pipe expertly forced between its jaws. Next, the water is turned on and the reptile fills up ? swelling like a balloon. It will be left like that for ten minutes or so, a leather cord tied around its neck to prevent the liquid escaping. Then its head is impaled on a meat hook, a couple of quick incisions follow, and the now-loosened skin peeled off with a series of brutal tugs - much like a rubber glove from a hand. From there the skin will be sent to a tannery before being turned into luxury shoes or handbags. Finally, they will be snapped up by an army of pampered Western fashionistas desperate for the latest look and happy to pay thousands of dollars to get it. Meanwhile, back in Indonesia, the python's peeled body is simply tossed on a pile of similarly stripped snakes. After a day or two of unimaginable agony it will die from the effects of shock or dehydration. Researchers say the growing demand for handbags and other fashion items in Europe is fueling imports. Snake skin is HOT in the fashion world right now with highend designers promoting their labels at the expensive of living creatures. Quite honestly, I don’t give a damn about how cool these labels are or who’s wearing what to the Grammy’s - where are these people’s ethical and moral compasses? Money and fame are short lived and there’s always someone waiting in the wings to step in as another ‘lovey darling’ fades away - but cruelty and possible species extinction is unacceptable at any level and the sooner our fashion designers wake up to their moral responsibility the better. Snakes survive the most horrendous injuries so it is unsurprising to imagine that after it’s been skinned a python will die a long, excrutiating death.

The snake-skin business is extremely lucrative according to this report, which estimates that half a million python skins are exported annually from South East Asia in a trade worth $1bn (£625m) a year. Please, take a long hard look at this image. This snake will end up as part of someones ‘this season’ accessories or maybe even in a dress or boots. We need to make sure we spread the word and let it be known that this practice has to stop! I would urge everyone to find out more about which designers are part of this cruel trade, there are plenty of them, and which celebrities are donning skins that are not theirs to wear. Snakes may not be the cute and cuddly of this world but they need our help as much as any species. Ed.

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The cruel cost of haute couture MILAN - Mifur is the international fur and leather exhibition in its 17th year presenting seven fashion brands and ending with a grand finale at Alcatraz in Milan. The event is highlighted by a theatrical show, reinventing the traditional runway. On the runway, brands like Avanti Furs, Maurizio Braschi, MalaMati, Manoel Cova, Tsoukas Bros. and more will be presenting their Autumn 2012 collections. "This year we are here with more square meters than the last one and so it's really very, very important for us because it's a good signal for us, for all of our trade. We are so far about 15 percent more than we were last year," says Roberto Scarpella, AIP President. Tonight we've seen another example of how much use there is for fur in the fashion industry," adds International Fur Trade Federation Executive Mark Oaten.

WILDLIFE NEWS

FUR FACTS 1. More than 50 million animals are violently killed for use in fashion every year. 2. Methods used to kill animals for their fur include gassing, electrocution, and neck breaking. Fur-bearing animals are also caught and killed in barbaric body-gripping traps. 3. Neither fur nor fur trim is a byproduct of the meat industry. Rabbit fur is often falsely identified as a byproduct of meat production. The truth is, few rabbit skins are obtained from slaughterhouses, which more often dispose of the undesirable pelts of rabbits bred to make meat. Fur comes from animals who are factory-farmed or trapped purely for fashion. 4. The fur trim market is an equal, if not greater, threat to animals than is the making of fur coats. Fur trim is not what’s “left over” from making full-length fur coats.

Thousands of animals are killed simply to provide trimming effects for fashion. Even purchasing the tiniest bit of fur trim supports the cruel fur industry. 5. Garment or accessory labels cannot always be relied upon to accurately identify the type of animal fur used in an item. Born Free USA advises erring on the side of caution and compassion by not buying items that you cannot verify are fur-free. 6. Many European countries have banned or are in the process of phasing out some or all fur farming based largely on the understanding that it is impossible to raise furbearing animals in captive conditions that adequately ensure their welfare while maintaining financial viability. 7. Fur “farms” or “ranches” are not humane alternatives to trapping. The terms are euphemisms used by the fur industry to describe confinement facilities in which fur-bearing animals are caged and killed. Currently, there are no federal laws providing protection for the millions of animals held in these factory-like farms. 8. Seals are still being clubbed and brutally slain for their fur. The Canadian seal hunt is the world’s largest remaining commercial slaughter of marine mammal; close to a million harp seals were authorized to be killed between 2003 and 2005. The use of seal fur in fashion contributes to this massacre. 9. Although historically, the fur trade played a role in the development of the early North American economy, tradition never justifies abuse. There are many cultural practices once seen as acceptable that are now viewed as horrific relics of a more brutal time. 10. The fur industry is a threat to our environment and wildlife, contributing to higher energy costs, pollution, land destruction, and reductions in populations of wild animals, including endangered and threatened species. 11


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Dianna Bisset & Rocklily Wildlife Refuge Rocklily is in the Wombeyan Caves Karst conservation area in NSW, and also within the Sydney water catchment locked gate area. We are bordered on two sides by the Greater Blue Mountains National Park, and are in its south west corner. The area has been locked up since the 1950s. It retains a very diverse range of native species with a number of these being endangered. A safe and beautiful place for all native wildlife. I asked Dianna to tell me a little bit about herself . I have been a wildlife carer for many years while living in urban Sydney. I have always been very busy as a reptile handler, and had innumerable possums, birds, lizards, snakes, echidnas and wombats in care. Wombats while not normally found in metro Sydney were cared for until a local group from where they were found was able to take them on, buddy them up, and move them on to release through their members. I asked Dianna to tell me what drives her to do education work about wildlife and help carers. Here’s her reply. I often found myself organising extra courses outside my wildlife group with respected Australian presenters, as well as putting in extra effort by fundraising ten’s of thousand’s of dollars, and generally trying to make a difference in the quality of carers lives, therefore increasing outcomes for wildlife. This had been all consuming. Commuting to Sydney for work changes how I can care for animals. I find I am now no longer needed, when in Sydney, to rescue and transport animals to vets or other carers. As I have previously stated, I’m not caring for injured animals here at the moment, but providing a safe place for wild animals and focusing on education on various environmental issues. I’m sure things will evolve here with my work for the environment & especially native animals. I’m currently spending a lot of time having stalls at various markets in the southern tablelands which 12

gives me the opportunity to talk to many local landholders about various issues. Currently I am concentrating on the treatment of mange in the wild populations of wombats, producing and providing information booklets and treatment and working with any landholders needing help in this regard. There are big bereavement issues that carers have, and they are generally ignored or it's just too hard to deal with. Any carer, especially new ones have problems when there are so many animal deaths; going to rescues and have birds and animals die in their arms; animals they have to have euthanized and ones that they have stayed up all night caring for, but sometimes it burns them out. But with appropriate support from others means we magically get carers to care for animals better, and they are happier doing it. I was working on a one day course on this issue, still might do it mid next year, It’s what I call one of my non denominational course, i.e. anybody from any group can come! I did a calendar for 2011 (it made $23,000 profit )! My aim was to show rescued animals and their stories, with a bit of info thrown in to educate urban people about what is in their backyard. It had to be inspiring and cute and I included at least one photo, even if it was just a thumbnail, from everyone who sent in pictures for it. We sold 3,000 copies and brought a great spirit of teamwork to the group.

If you would like to find out more about

Rocklily Wildlife Refuge please click on the link:

www.rocklilywomabts.com Thank you to Dianna for allowing me to interview her. WILDLIFE NEWS


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Photo courtesy Education Tasmania

Dedicated to Benjamin - The last Tasmanian Tiger I recently watched a short film about the last Thylacine or Tasmanian Tiger. Benjamin. Benjamin died at Hobart Zoo in 1936. This article is dedicated to that lone, misunderstood marsupial and I hope to goodness that we have learnt our lesson. The thing that got me most about this shaky, black and white footage (some filmed by David Fleay in 1933) was how overwhelming sad it made me. It made me really, and I mean really, consider what would happen if we didn’t protect this planet’s wildlife. Would our childrens’ children have to look at images of elephants, tigers, quolls, turtles and the like and never have the opportunity to see them alive and thriving in the wild? There is research being carried out in Australia to try and clone a Thylacine - bit late really. We should have taken care of the ones we had. The DNA that’s available to scientists is 100 years old and in itself is not complete enough to produce a true animal. Because the Thylacine is a marsupial, and it’s body make up and biology is quite unique, scientists struggle with finding a comparative species to host the DNA of the Thylacine to create some kind of hybrid. Scientists at Melbourne WILDLIFE NEWS

University have successfully transplanted Thylacine DNA into in-utero mice and have found that the gene they used, one which produces collagen in bone development, did successfully thrive. So, are we going to learn the need for preservation and conservation or are we going to carry on destroying habitat at break neck speed? After all, it seems that we could just re-create Sumatran tigers for instance, providing we keep some nice, healthy DNA for later cloning. The Thylacine was an extraordinary animal. It’s tail was stiff, just like a kangaroo tail. It was said to have an awkward way of moving, trotting stiffly and not moving particularly quickly. They walked on their toes like a dog but could also move in a more unusual way - a bipedal hop. The animal would stand upright with its front legs in the air, resting its hind legs on the ground and using its tail as a support, just like a kangaroo. I really hope that some of the sightings of the Thylacine are real and that we learn from our mistakes of the past, but most or all I hope that there won’t be any more Benjamins. Ed 13


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Claire Smith Photography

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree.... The kookaburra is our most iconic bird - actually the first time I heard a Laughing Kookaburra was at the Cotswold Wildlife Park in the UK! There’s no mistaking that sound.

Claire Smith Photography

I have cared for countless kookaburras, everything from broken wings, orphaned, road trauma etc and I have to say they are one of the easiest birds to look after. Providing you follow a few rules! They are not shy when it comes to bird/human interaction and will readily become visitors if there’s a free meal being offered. Of course, there are things to consider when feeding wildlife - two main areas. 1. The natural diet is best so feeding tid bits can become problematic for the bird if the wrong types of food are offered. 2. Encouraging wild birds to be hand fed can make them dependent on humans. There’s a lot of responsibility involved and in another issue we will look at whether to feed or not to. So, back to our laughing kookaburra. He is really an over sized kingfisher. In-fact, there is also the Eastern Blue wing kookaburra too. This cousin doesn’t have the distinctive brown stripe across the eye but it does have blue in the tail and more pronounced blue on the wings. When kookaburras are babies, through to juvenile, both the top and bottom beaks are black. In the photo opposite you can see Joah & Fizzy. I had these little blokes from the time they were scruffy little balls with a beak. As the kookys mature the bottom beak changes to the familiar horn colour. The kookaburra has two distinctive calls - the laugh, which is a territorial call and a soft koooah. Where I live, we have a large family group of kookaburras. Actually, 14

Fizzy and Joah were adopted by one of the females but that’s a story for another day. One of the greatest sounds is when they all start calling together! Wow, if you’ve never heard a dozen or so kookaburras all laughing at once you don’t know what you are missing! It’s pure magic. Kookaburras are not a threatened species. They are stable in all states. But that doesn’t mean we don’t see a lot come into care, because we do. They live in a diverse range of habitats: woodland, open forests, partly cleared farm land, suburban settings, parks, gardens etc They are master hunters. I wonder if you have ever seen a kookaburra siting on a moving branch whilst eyeing up prey? Well, if you haven’t then let me tell you about an amazing ability they have. If the branch is moving up and down, one would assume the bird is too, yes? Ah, but here’s where you would be wrong! If the kookaburra has it’s eye on some delicious, fat beetle or skink below him he’s not WILDLIFE NEWS


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going to want to take his eyes off his potential supper...so, whilst the branch moves up and down, along with kooky’s body, his head stays in the same, still position-his neck absorbs the movement of the branch and kooky keeps his eye on dinner! How amazing is that!

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aviary enclosure trying to get out. This behaviour then results in damaged and broken feathers, sometimes to a point where this becomes more of an issue that the original reason it came into care.

Claire Smith Photography

(This was Tiny, the baby)

They are pretty fierce little birds and with that powerful beak, they make short change of unsuspecting victims!

All kookaburras batter their prey to death by hitting it repeatedly on a rock, fence post or other hard surface. They even do this with worms and other small creatures. They do it in care too with strips of beef heart.

If an adult kooky comes into care and there’s no address to return it to, it basically spells a death sentence for that bird. So, if you are a carer, or if you ever find an injured bird make sure you write down the location of where it was found so that it can be returned.

They also fall victim to secondary poisoning - rat bait is lethal, not just to rats. Kookaburras, and birds of prey, are at risk when they hunts for rodents. These may not necessarily be rats or mice. They could be native rodents - people don’t think of this when they put rat bait down. Native rodents don’t know it’s poison any more than rats do. Kookaburras don’t know that their supper is laced with warfarin or other similar poisons. I hope that kookaburras will always be plentiful. Claire Smith. Editor

For certain birds, like kookaburras, it is vital that when it is time for their release that they go to where they came from.(with the exception of babies) Kookaburras are territorial birds and will drive away others who are not part of their family group. They can be vicious and merciless in their pursuit and full blown battles can take place. They establish territories that will last as long as there’s a family.

Even tough I mentioned earlier that they are easy birds to care for there are certain rules that have to be followed. The most important is, like They are very good parents and also any creature, they don’t like being wonderful adoptive parents. It is very kept captive. Kookaburras will thrash easy to get a kookaburra to adopt an themselves about inside a cage or WILDLIFE NEWS

orphan, if you follow a few more simple rules!

All kookaburras have to be cared for in soft sided enclosures and cages to prevent hurting themselves. However, babies don’t have this issue. The photo below shows one of Kookaburras fall victim to car trauma my soft flights specifically designed probably more than any other cause to house kookaburras safely. for coming into care. Their low flight path makes them easy targets.

Claire Smith Photography

Last year I saw an adult kookaburra, in flight, take a small rat from the roof of a garden gazebo! It was an amazing site.

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Claire Smith Photography

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Wildhaven Wildlife Sanctuary www.wildhavenstandrews.com.au There’s so much bad news in the press and on TV isn’t there...I am 100% sure it contributes to a global state of mind. How often do we get to hear really great, uplifting stories that make us smile, empower and inspire us?

much death at Wildhaven our minds could not and never will comprehend that day. We lived in a fog for over a year and sometimes the fog comes back. Stella

That’s why I never became a mainstream journalist! Good news doesn’t sell! Luckily for me, I can share great stories with you and the one I want to share at this moment is about two remarkable people: Stella & Alan Reid. They wouldn’t call themselves remarkable or amazing, but I do. For over 20 years, Stella and Alan have dedicated their lives, and their home, to caring for injured and orphaned wildlife. It’s not a hobby, it’s not a distraction from the mundane rigors of life - it’s a lifestyle they chose because of their unshakeable passion and compassion for our native wildlife. There’s nothing, and I mean nothing, that could stop this dedicated couple from providing sanctuary and care for any animal, bird or reptile that needed it.

I cannot imagine how Stella and Alan must have felt. How do you come back from something like that? No words can ever describe what they must have gone through. I was incredibly moved to hear their story and so inspired by their determination to get Wildhaven back to its former purpose - a sanctuary.

In 2009, on Black Saturday, their world was changed beyond recognition. Many would have given up after the devastating fires ripped through their Victorian wilderness. I’ll let Stella tell the story from here. On Black Saturday our world changed forever. Wildhaven was totally destroyed - over 800 animals died at and around Wildhaven; all buildings were razed to the ground. I was on a fire truck putting out a fire at a neighbour’s home. Alan was at Wildhaven with the wildlife: animals were running from the fires and from the house as the smoke alarms screeched. As the buildings caught fire and the gas bottles vented, Alan threw open all the doors then followed the animals towards the forest. They were all running, but there was nowhere to go. Our world was on fire. It took us over a month to collect the bodies of our little ones from around the house, where our little friends had sheltered. There was so 16

Merlot & Cooper - the first babies after the fire

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Before Black Saturday

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After Black Saturday

It was probably an unconscious decision - if it had to be decided at all - to rebuild Wildhaven. The day after the fire we were discussing how to go about bringing our home back to life. Within six days we were living on our property in a site office generously lent to us by contractor in Panton Hill. The only 'surviving' structure was one third of our hay shed - 10m x 6m - which we turned into our new accommodation with some help from friends at the CFA. We then started constructing the first new enclosure to house rescued wildlife and to plan the construction of the new Wildhaven. A visit from Bob Irwin inspired us even further and we thank him for his kind spirit. Little did we know that it would be two and a half years in the making. The house was put on the bottom of the list and we started with four internal (within a four and a half acre enclosure) and one external shelter sheds. We then fenced the enclosure, ensuring it was fox and dog proof. Within a matter of weeks orphaned and injured animals were being brought in and, while we did what we could, we had to pass them onto shelters outside the burnt zone because we did not have the facilities or environment to look after any animals until August 2009. The old house site's slab was still reasonably solid which allowed us to put a large shed on it which is now the first aid complex and includes a very well stocked first aid room and five 'stables' for the larger animals brought in.

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The new wombat enclosure was a big project for us. We were told other shelters were closing down, and they were holding wombats from our area. We had to design, clear the land and construct the fencing and building in 5 weeks. All the clearing was done with the help of Bill Watson (Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria). Bill organised 30 Fire Fighters to come to our aid. The area was ready for the new occupants with two days to spare. Bill and his team, along with some assistance from the St Andrews CFA, returned over a year later to conduct a huge clean-up and burn off on the property. We moved in to our new home on 1st October 2012. John Costantini and Carson Dawson built our home. They did everything we asked, even if it did not make sense to them. It was a home for 2 people and orphaned and injured Wildlife. Stella Please, go and visit WILDHAVEN’S website. Please read the stories, they are incredibly touching and inspirational. If there were ever two people who should be recognised for their work, and their resilience in the face of devastating tragedy, it should be Stella and Alan Reid. If you can offer any help, please contact them. Their knowledge and example to others is astounding. They are truly living, breathing, walking and talking conservation and rehabilitation and because of selfless people like the Reids wildlife has a far better chance. Thank you to both of them for allowing me to publish this article. Claire Smith, Editor. (All photographs kindly supplied by Stella & Alan Reid)

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We are the voice for the voiceless, And the defenders of the innocent .

Save one - Save the species. Claire Smith Photography

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WILDLIFE NEWS

Profile for Claire Smith

Australian Wildlife News 9  

Australian Wildlife News monthly e-magazine covering rescue, rehabilitation and conservation issues for Australian Wildlife.

Australian Wildlife News 9  

Australian Wildlife News monthly e-magazine covering rescue, rehabilitation and conservation issues for Australian Wildlife.

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