Monday, August 3, 2009

Wildlife Bytes 29/7/09

Wildlife Mini-Bytes


A rare Long Footed Potoroo has been discovered at Cape Conran in East Gippsland. The find was made by a team from the Southern Ark Project and students from Deakin University. The Cape Conran Coastal Park has a population of Long Nosed Potoroos, but this is the first sighting of the much bigger Long Footed variety. The animal is usually found at higher altitudes. Southern Ark Operations manager, Andy Murray, says the Potoroo may be extending its range because of dry conditions or better fox control. He says the potoroo lives on underground fungus and is usually found in mountain forests and not so close to the coast. "As a result of drier conditions throughout the forest, they're starting to seek other sites that retain some moisture," he said The Southern Ark Project aims to facilitate the recovery of native mammals, birds and reptiles across approximately one million hectares of public land in far East Gippsland through the establishment of an integrated fox control program. *ABC


The European Union has formally approved a ban on seal products, but the world's biggest seal exporter, Canada, says it will launch an appeal with the World Trade Organisation. EU foreign ministers approved the ban at a meeting in Brussels. The ban applies to all seal products and processed goods from seals, including their skins, meat, blubber, organs and oil. Canada was quick to respond, with its international trade minister, Stockwell Day, saying the ban violates World Trade Organisation guidelines. He says associations of veterinarians and others have determined that Canada's seal hunt is humanitarian, scientific and follows environmental rules of sustainability He says the ban will also have an economic impact on east and north coast communities. Canada's fur industry says the ban is nothing more than a political move by EU decision-makers and should not compromise the major markets for Canada's seal products - Russia and China. *ABC

Cherbourg Trees Down

Helicopters have been landing at night at the Cherbourg (Queensland ) Hospital for ten years. Last year a pilot said five trees near the landing site were dangerous, and the helicopter would not be landing at the hospital until the 150 year old trees were removed. So the Queensland Government, instead of shifting the landing pad, or installing better lighting, moved in virtually overnight and chopped down the trees. After significant protests by he Cherbourg community, the Queensland Government offered to erect a statue of an aborigonal women and child, to compensate for the trees removal. It's true, I kid you not. Some observers have noted that the local Cherbourg footy field has just had $140,000 spent on lights, although night footy is not played there. Helicopters can land on well lighted footy fields too......... * WPAA

Climate Change

The ocean is warming about 50 per cent faster than reported two years ago, according to an update of the latest climate science. A report compiling research presented at a science congress in Copenhagen in March says recent observations are near the worst-case predictions of the 2007 report by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In the case of sea-level rise, it is happening at an even greater rate than projected - largely due to rising ocean temperatures causing thermal expansion of seawater. Released last night at the European Policy Centre in Brussels, the report says ocean temperatures are a better indicator of global warming than air temperature as the ocean stores more heat and responds more slowly to change. *SMH

Corroboree Frogs

There has been a major success in a breeding program to help the survival of the rare corroboree frog. The corroboree frog breeding program in the ACT has successfully bred around 1,000 eggs in captivity, which will be raised until maturity before being hopefully realised into the wild. Dr Murray Evans says the breakthrough should help give the frogs a chance to grow immunity against the chytrid fungus which has caused the population decline. "Having 1,000 eggs bred in captivity is a major milestone for this project," he said. "When we look at wild populations we only have about 200 left ... in the ACT. "So 1,000 eggs represents five times of what we have in the wild." *ABC


Robert Borsak went to northern Zimbabwe to hunt elephants. On a two-week trip he killed several, including a bull elephant he shot in the head from a distance of six paces. Back in Australia, Mr Borsak has bagged another prize. The big game hunter and former vice-chairman of the Shooters Party is being paid $342 for each sitting day as chairman of the Game Council of NSW, one of 58 quangos which operate under the Primary Industries Minister, Ian Macdonald. Conservationists say the Game Council's only purpose is to win the Shooters Party votes. The Game Council has received more than $11 million in government funding since 2002 and $3.5 million last year, despite promises from Mr Macdonald it would end up being self-funded. NCC has said that "by pumping millions of dollars into the Game Council, Minister Macdonald is sanctioning bloodsports." * SMH Full story here...

Ed Comment; In his spare time Borlak also breeds hunting dogs for sale......


The State Opposition has asked Minister Kate Jones to explain why koala habitats are being bulldozed even though the marsupial is near extinction in the south east. It was revealed during the Environment Estimates Committee hearing that crucial koala habitats are to be bulldozed to make way for a Thornlands school. LNP Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Glen Elmes said the Government had not planned for growth in the region. “Minister Jones’ response to the rapidly swindling koala population is to rush through a new State Planning Policy. “How can a new planning policy save koalas when the Bligh Labor Government couldn’t plan for the need for a new school? “Minister Jones is obviously out of her depth if she thinks a planning policy will make up for the loss of an endangered species crucial habitat.” *LNP Media Release

Swift Parrots

The State's Premier Nathan Rees is being asked to intervene to stop logging at a New South Wales Far South Coast forest after sightings of an endangered bird species. The Greens say the swift parrot has been reported in the Bermagui forest, which is set to be logged in coming weeks. The rare blossom-feeding birds are using the forest to find food on their annual migration from the Tasmania's eucalypt forests. Greens Upper House Member of Parliament, Lee Rhiannon, wants the Premier to ensure Forests New South Wales does nothing to disrupt or destroy the area where the birds are feeding. "Normally the birds migrate further inland before they come to the coast and sometimes they even reach Queensland," she said. "It is a very significant development considering there's so few of these species left. "Logging of its winter feeding habitat near Bermagui is simply unacceptable." *ABC


A reportedly 20-foot-long (6-meter-long) basking shark that washed ashore on a beach on New York's Long Island on Tuesday appears to have died from some kind of illness. New York State Parks official George Gorman said researchers will examine the basking shark to determine a cause of death. After that, it will be buried in nearby sand dunes on the beach. Basking sharks are common in the waters off Long Island. The giant washed ashore on a town beach a few miles east of Jones Beach State Park, a popular recreation area for New York City-area residents. Basking sharks are the world's second largest fish, after whale sharks, and can grow up to 32 feet (10 meters) long. Despite their giant mouths, the sharks are not considered dangerous and feed mainly on plankton. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the giant sharks as vulnerable to extinction. *National Geographic


Recently, Kenyan Wildlife Authorities seized $1 million worth of elephant tusks hidden in coffins that were bound for illegal ivory markets in Asia. Sign a Petition here to permanently ban ivory sales.

New Wildlife Website

Wildlife Advocate has established a new webpage at on which it is publicising local events on the above topic. Please: 1) advise your members of this website so that they can consider attending and participating in these events; and 2) advise Wildlife Advocate of any events your organisation intends to hold so that we can post the details on the above webpage. Thanks in anticipation, Guy Wilmington, President, Wildlife Advocate Inc. Ph: 0413 591762 Email: Web:


A whale watch tour operator and environmental adviser is predicting a proposed oil and gas exploration project off Albany, in southern Western Australia, would have a catastrophic impact on whale populations. British company Arcadia Petroleum has announced plans for a project in the Bremer sub-basin to begin in December. Studies indicate the basin contains up to 500 million barrels of oil or gas equivalent. Tour operator John Woodbury says the project will have a detrimental impact on whales that breed in nearby Bremer Bay between May and November. He says, if the project goes ahead, there will be a drop in numbers of southern right, humpback and sperm whales. "Anything which is going to operate as a detriment to the life support systems of the ocean's wildlife is going to affect their reproductive capacity obviously," he said. *ABC

Kangaroo Industry

Russia has decided to suspend the importation of kangaroo meat from Australia and as a result about 2500 Queensland jobs are under threat. The ban applies from this Saturday when Russia blacklists meat products from 30 countries including Argentina, Italy, Brazil, Denmark, France, Spain and Germany. Meat and Livestock Australia has been told the ban relates to "microbial contamination" but has been given no other details. Three kangaroo abattoirs, including Charleville and Longreach, along with a plant processing beef are off the supply list, putting 500 full-time and 2000 part-time jobs at risk. The Longreach operation, which has been sending Russia 30 tonnes of kangaroo meat a week, has already closed, leaving 50 people without work. The impact will be greater in Charleville where millions of dollars were spent gearing up for kangaroo exports. Then there are the harvesters, the full-time and part-time shooters that supply the abattoirs.

Charleville-based shooter Peter Melano said the Russian ban had pushed his returns down to 65¢ a kilogram. "A couple of years ago we were getting $1.30 and then the price began creeping back to 90 cents," he said. "Now Russia's action has cut our return back to 65 and I hope it does not go any lower." Mr Melano, whose record kill was more than 200 in a night, said the average professional took 40 to 50 head. "The collapse of the price means we have to work a lot harder – get more roos – to maintain the income stream," he said. Charleville is in the Murweh Shire where Mayor Mark O'Brien believes the Russians are concerned about meat contamination. "When you kill animals in an abattoir that can be controlled," he said. "But when you paddock kill, a roo carcass can be kept in a chiller box for up to 14 days before it comes to the abattoir. So the potential is much greater for it to become contaminated and this apparently is what the Russians have based their decision on." The situation is so critical the State Government has set up a kangaroo industry development committee that will meet in Brisbane tomorrow.

Primary Industries Minister Tim Mulherin said Russia made up about two-thirds of the kangaroo market. "So this ban is a significant blow to the industry and the communities it supports," he said. "My department is working hard with other agencies in a co-ordinated response to ensure firstly that action is taken to speed up the lifting of the ban, and secondly to minimise the impacts on the industry and regional communities." Mr Mulherin said Queensland had the largest and most up-to-date processing facilities. "We need to protect this valuable industry by ensuring that the measures we put in place are sustainable and long-lasting. With about 500 full-time jobs and 2000 part-time jobs affected, urgent action is critical. "Job support programs for workers affected by the closure of export kangaroo processing plants in Queensland will be made available." *,,25838193-953,00.html Robert Morley, Courier Mail.

Ed Comment, I did try to talk to this journalist, but he was very rude and not interested in any other options. It was a bit like talking to a tree...but without the intelligence that a tree has.......Meanwhile an Industry meeting hosted by Primary Industries Minister Mulherin on Tuesday the 28th came up with nothing of direct use to the kangaroo Industry. Predictably the best option they could come up with was to boost the local markets for kangaroo meat. Too late by a mile though, our groups have opened many eyes to the dangers of eating kangaroo meat. After all, if the Russians have banned it because of contamination issues, why would the average Australian eat it?

Kangaroo numbers will explode as a result of a Russian ban on roo meat imports that comes into effect on Saturday, farmers say. They say the ban will lead to damage to sensitive ecosystems and the grazing industry. Rural lobby group AgForce says Russia previously took 70 per cent of kangaroo meat exports and the nation's withdrawal from the market means culling quotas won't be achieved and roo numbers will leap out of control. AgForce sheep and wool president Brent Finlay said small western Queensland communities would bear the brunt of Russia's decision to cease importing kangaroo meat from August 1. The kangaroo industry is estimated to generate $270 million a year for regional economies, and losses of $40,000 per week for centres such as Longreach, Charleville, Winton and Blackall have been quoted based on this ban,' Mr Finlay said. He said kangaroo populations were already expected to grow by 20 to 30 per cent due to improved seasonal conditions. When combined with reduced harvesting, (this) will significantly impact areas already suffering immense production losses from over-grazing by marsupials,' Mr Finlay said.

Job losses have already occurred in the kangaroo meat industry, which provides about 500 full-time jobs and 2,000 part-time jobs. Russia has cited food safety issues as the reason for the complete ban on kangaroo meat, though the industry suspects that politics is involved. Russia has banned meat products from 30 countries. Mr Finlay said the EU, which was globally recognised as the leader in food safety standards, was happy with the safety of Australian kangaroo product. Domestic consumption remains low, with only 4,000 tonnes consumed in Australia during the past year. The Kangaroo Industry Development Committee will meet in Brisbane on Tuesday to discuss the ramifications of Russia's decision. *Bigpond News

Action Alert – Please ask China not to import kangaroo meat!

Australia already bears the shame of being responsible for the largest commercial wildlife slaughter in the world. And we urgently need your help to stop it from getting even bigger. Each night in the Australian outback thousands of kangaroos graze peacefully, stand up on hearing an approaching vehicle, stare into a blinding spotlight, and are shot for their meat and skins. This year, almost 4 million kangaroos are allowed to be killed commercially. The fate of orphaned young is at least as grim. Joeys are decapitated or killed with a blow to the head. If they escape, they often fall victim to predators, exposure or starvation. A new trade protocol between Australia and China now opens the door for the industry to export kangaroo meat and skins to China. But the Chinese are worried about their reputation as they are well aware of the iconic status of ‘roos. Also, worries exist about food safety issues after Russia announced a total ban on importing kangaroo meat for this reason (the good news!). Please write to: H.E. Mr Zhang Junsai, Chinese Ambassador to Australia Lisa Nie, Economic and Commercial Advisor to the Ask them not to allow the import of kangaroo meat into China. Your letter need not be long, and will be best in your own words. Here are a few suggested points for your letter:

The import of kangaroo meat to China will put the future of our most iconic Australian animal at serious risk. The import will result in a huge increase in the number of kangaroos - a protected species already in severe decline - being killed in Australia.

Systemic food safety and hygiene violations in the industry recently lead to the Russian government announcing a total ban on importing kangaroo meat.

A recent two-year investigation revealed that carcasses were contaminated by dangerous bacteria, including E.coli, Streptococcus and Staphylococcus. This investigation clearly indicated that food safety problems are not sufficiently under control in the kangaroo industry.

The commercial killing of kangaroos is a cruel industry. Kangaroo babies (joeys), are decapitated or killed with a blow to the head. If they escape, they are helpless without their mother and left to starve. For further information on kangaroo killing (and other steps you can take to help) see Thanks you for caring. Glenys OogjesAnimals Australia. *Network Item


The State Government will undertake a dingo 'census' and erect dingo fencing with council around the main waste station on Fraser Island, Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Ms Jones said today. Ms Jones told her Budget Estimates hearing an independent audit of the State Government's Fraser Island Dingo Management Strategy was being finalised. She said these new measures would help form the Great Sandy Region package currently being implemented by the Bligh Government. "I'm advised world renowned dingo expert Dr Laurie Corbett is currently in the final stages of his audit," Ms Jones said. "While he's advised that there appears to be a healthy dingo population with enough natural prey, I want to be fully satisfied that dingoes are prevalent on the island. "I've approved a research project so we can be more certain of the numbers.

"While data collected over the past decade suggest the Fraser Island dingo population naturally fluctuates between about 100 and 200 animals, made up of 25 to 30 separate packs, we're due for another 'count'. "The Department of Environment and Resource Management is working with The University of Queensland, Griffith University and Biosecurity Queensland to draw together various techniques so that more accurate figures can be provided. "The survey will provide a better understanding not only of total numbers but also of other factors such as dingo dispersal across the island, the total number of packs, and the age and composition of those packs. "This type of information, together with that provided by Dr Corbett, will allow us to further fine-tune management strategies for a sustainable dingo population, while ensuring public safety." Ms Jones said DERM was always exploring ways to reduce the risk of human-dingo interaction and in the past had fenced major tourist areas and townships. "The waste transfer station at Eurong is a hot spot right now for dingoes seeking easy assess to human food," she said.

"DERM is working with the Fraser Coast Regional Council to erect dingo deterrent fencing around the area. "The State Government is providing $100,000 towards the project. "Visitor education regarding dingo awareness and safety procedures is also a vital part of our Strategy. "DERM is reviewing the communications strategies used to educate visitors and the public about appropriate behaviour near dingoes in line with my request in June to ensure the approach remains at world's best practice standards. "I reiterate that whatever dingo management activities are undertaken, our number one priority is public safety." Ms Jones said Dr Corbett's audit would be based on reports and statistical data from current research, field observations at major visitor locations, discussions with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rangers and more than 70 public submissions. "Dr Corbett's independent audit is part of a continuing assessment of existing management strategies to ensure they contribute to the conservation of a sustainable wild dingo population on Fraser Island while minimising the risk to humans," she said. "I will release his audit report when it is finalised." *ALP media Release

Ed Comment; Its a bit hard to see how this will be an independent audit, when it's done by the State Governemtn, and by Laurie Corbett, the person responsible for the current Fraser Island Dingo Management Plan.


The Sydney wildlife park where Skippy the Bush Kangaroo was filmed has not had a licence for the care of its more than 100 native animals since 2006 and looks likely to close after the intervention of the NSW Government and the RSPCA. Waratah Park Earth Sanctuary, home to Skippy in the 1960s, has been closed for nearly two years, apparently for renovation. But concern has grown about the animals' welfare and last week the RSPCA had to put down two emaciated kangaroos. "The animals were put down on welfare grounds. They were emaciated, weak," said NSW RSPCA's chief inspector, David O'Shannessy. "We're still investigating whether neglect was a contributing factor but we do have concerns about the welfare of animals at the park."

The company leasing the site from the state, Melbourne property developer Prudentia Investments, has not had a licence for the animals since it took over three years ago. According to the Department of Environment and Climate Change, Prudentia failed to renew the licence after it acquired the lease in 2006, refusing to undertake basic site works. "The requirements for renewing the licence were things like providing adequate fencing, weed management and an overall site plan," a spokeswoman said. The department says all the animals, which cannot survive in the wild, will have to be moved to other wildlife parks, which residents say would spell the end of the park and could result in a mass culling. Residents believe Prudentia has run the site down because it intends to build houses there. A spokesman refused to comment on Prudentia's plans. *Network Item

Please sign petition to protect the Grey Headed Flying-fox in New South Wales

Thinking about Wildlife? Who’s going to watch over our wildlife when you no longer share their World? Well, we are! The Wildlife Protection Association of Australia Inc. will continue to forcefully lobby governments to do better with wildlife management, and by taking them to Court if necessary. We are currently working on developing eLearning projects, so students can become aware of the importance of our wildlife living in a safe and secure natural environment. After you have looked after your family and friends in your Will, think about wildlife. A bequest to the Wildlife Protection Association of Australia Inc. will ensure that we can continue to take a leading role in protecting and conserving our precious wildlife. None of the donations we receive are diverted to "administration". Every dollar we get through bequests or donations for wildlife hits the ground running! Talk to your solicitor, or if writing your own Will, add the words "I bequeath to The Wildlife Protection Association of Australia Inc. for the purpose of protecting wildlife in Australia (a specified sum), or (specified items including land or vehicle), or (the residue of my estate) or (percentage of my estate) free of all duties, and the receipt of the President, Secretary or other authorised WPAA officer for the time being shall be a complete and sufficient discharge for the executor(s)." You can also phone me for a confidential chat, as to how a bequest can help us work to protect our wildlife, when you are no longer able to. * Pat O’Brien, WPAA 07 54941890