Monday, December 28, 2009

Wildlfie Bytes 23/12/09

The Fair Dinkum Characters

The new Summer range of toddlers wildlife shirts, shorts, and singlets are now avaliable on the Fair Dinkum Characters website at too late for Christmas unfortuntely. The Dinkums are Ambassadors for the Wildlife Protection Association of Australia Inc. Watch for them playing in a Shopping Centre near you!


Australian scientists have called for an overhaul of the national reserves system and better funding for wildlife research after a global report listed koalas among 10 species to be ''hardest hit'' by climate change. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature the world's top conservation body ranks koalas with polar bears, emperor penguins, Arctic foxes, clownfish and leatherback turtles on a ''hit list'' of climate casualties. Canberra times, Read more......


Authorities have closed two beach campsites on Queensland's Fraser Island because of a threat posed by two packs of aggressive dingoes. The Department of Environment and Resource Management closed off One Tree Rocks and Cornwells campsites on the southern end of the popular tourist destination. DERM spokesman Terry Harper said rangers were closely monitoring several dingoes that had been behaving aggressively toward people. "There have been two groups of juvenile dingoes seen circling and entering these two campsites near Lake Wabby over the past few weeks," Mr Harper said in a statement. "We believe they present an unacceptable risk to visitor safety at this location." The sites can accommodate up to 200 people. Mr Harper said affected campers had been notified and told they could be accommodated at other sites on the island. People caught feeding or making food available to dingoes face penalties of up to $4000. *Brisbane Times

Wildlife Poaching

A man accused of strapping 15 live lizards to his chest to get through customs at Los Angeles International Airport has pleaded not guilty to federal charges. Michael Plank of Lomita, Calif., entered his plea Monday to a count of smuggling wildlife into the United States, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says Plank was returning from Australia in November when customs agents found two geckos, two monitor lizards and 11 smaller lizards fastened to his body. Authorities say the lizards' value totals more than $8,500. All Australian reptiles are strictly regulated, and authorities say Plank had no permit for them. AP


The die-off of bats across the US Northeastern states is now so severe that federal wildlife officials consider it "the most precipitous decline of North American wildlife caused by infectious disease in recorded history." Since 2006, when hibernating bats in a cave in New York state were found coated with a chalky fungus, the so-called white-nose syndrome affecting bats has hopscotched from New Hampshire to West Virginia, sometimes wiping out entire caves of bats in a single winter. Finding a remedy for the condition before the die-off reaches the huge bat habitats of Tennessee and Kentucky is considered vital because individual bats eat thousands of insects a night, providing a critical balance for nature. Read More.....,0,2907502.story

Media Watch Tip offs

Media Watch tries to monitor some of the major media outlets but there's no way their small team can keep track of all the media's crazy and unethical behaviour or even all the stories that are just plain wrong. They rely on tip-offs from our audience for many of the stories. So if you know something about the media that they should know drop them a line. Give them as much detail as you can about where and when the story was published or broadcast. Tell them what's gone on and what's gone wrong. And give them some contact details so they can check the details and send their thanks. Confidentiality is guaranteed. Email: Mail: Media Watch, GPO Box 9994, In your Capital City, Telephone: 02 8333 4454Fax: 02 8333 4962 *Media Watch

Kung fu Monkeys

A Chinese man who trained monkeys martial arts to entertain shoppers was shocked when they turned the tables on him. Lo Wung's taekwondo monkeys have become a regular feature outside a shopping centre in Enshi, Hubei province, where they were trained to show off their martial arts skills on each other. But one quick-thinking monkey saw his chance when Lo slipped - and caught him with a perfect flying kung fu kick to the head. The rest then joined in the affray. Hu Luang, 32, who caught the incident on camera, said: "I saw one punch him in the eye - he grabbed another by the ear and it responded by grabbing his nose. "They were leaping and jumping all over the place - it was better than a Bruce Lee film." At one point the monkey trainer grabbed a staff to hit the monkeys, only to find himself facing a stick-brandishing monkey that cracked him over the head. Lo only managed to get the monkeys under control by tangling them up in the rope that had been used to stop them running off. *Network Item


A vicious attack on a kangaroo at Marlee Reserve last week was labelled senseless by a fauna authority. The male kangaroo was found dead with an arrow about 20cm long in its stomach at the Parklands reserve last Thursday at 7.30am by a Meadow Springs woman walking her dog. The arrow was shot three-quarters of the way into kangaroo’s stomach, rupturing its bowel. Department for Environment and Conservation fauna re-locater Allison Dixon said this would have caused it a slow and agonising death. “What did he do to deserve this? He did nothing,” Ms Dixon said. “This kind of cruelty is unnecessary, disgraceful and abhorrent behaviour. “For a human being to do this is deplorable.” The arrow was taken for evidence and investigations are continuing. * Mandura Mail

At least three kangaroos have been shot with crossbows in Parklands, north of Mandurah during the past two weeks. RSPCA spokesman Richard Barry says two of the animals have been euthanased while a third remains in the area with an arrow embedded in its hind leg. Mr Barry says help is needed to find any more injured animals and identify the offenders. He says the RSPCA is working with the Department of Conservation and City of Mandurah rangers to find the injured kangaroos. *ABC

Apparently new American born NSW Premier Kristina Keneally, according to the NSW Sunday Telegraph, tucked into a KANGAROO MEAT PIE with bush tomato sauce to prove she is a fair dinkum aussie. *Network Item

Kangaroos in Preston Beach set to be culled by the Shire of Waroona could be saved after the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) asked the Shire to use 'non-lethal options' to remove them from the area. The cull was prompted by Preston Beach Golf Club members, who claim kangaroos were damaging the fairways and threatening users of the course. The Shire of Waroona has since requested the DEC issue a licence for the cull. But a letter from the DEC to the Shire of Waroona suggested the Shire use non-lethal options as an alternative to shooting them. *BigPond News

Graziers in western Queensland say the huge numbers of kangaroos infesting their properties are costing them tens of thousands of dollars per year. Grazier Stephen Tully says he saw about 2,500 kangaroos on his property in western Queensland in just one night. He estimates kangaroo over-grazing is costing him about $30,000 per year and says lowering the size limits for culling would help. "Anything in plague proportions is a pest and should be treated as so," he said. AgForce's Jo Hall agrees farmers should be able to have greater power to control kangaroos on their properties. "The limited numbers that you can take out under the damage mitigation permits is not having any effect on the overall population," she said. Ms Hall says she will raise her concerns with the Environmental Protection Agency. *ABC

The drought has hit yet another sector, with low numbers forcing NSW authorities to stop shooters harvesting grey kangaroos. The ban, in the Griffith Kangaroo Management Zone, is a further blow to Riverina shooters as they already struggle to find numbers to fill a diminishing market. A few years ago, many chillers operated in the Riverina with as many as 30 people employed in some western Riverina towns shooting kangaroos. But with the suspension of the Russian market earlier this year due to contamination fears, demand has stalled. The lack of demand is reflected in the number of tags issued by the NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water, which said the use of tags this year had been low.

Despite the smaller numbers of tags issued, shooters have been stopped from harvesting eastern grey and western grey kangaroos in the Griffith zone, a 100,000 sq km area, which covers much of the Riverina. DECCW kangaroo management program manager Nicole Payne said populations of grey kangaroos in the zone had "fallen substantially". The sole remaining full-time kangaroo shooter in the Hillston area, Bob Brittle, said it would take all his skills to fill even the relatively small requirement of 100 kangaroos for his buyer each week. "It will be frustrating as we will have to drive by grey kangaroos and only shoot the reds," he said. The latest restrictions add to the hardship in the industry already caused by the suspension of the Russian market for roo meat, which the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia says has resulted in the loss of 2500 jobs in regional areas. *Weekly Times

Farmers in northern Australia say a plague of kangaroos is overrunning their properties. They have said it is causing tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage. Recent heavy rainfall in parts of Queensland has prompted large numbers of marsupials to flock to the newly green countryside. Further south, however, a long-standing drought has forced authorities to suspend the culling of kangaroos in parts of New South Wales. In outback Queensland, grazier Stephen Tully said his sheep farm had been invaded by thousands of kangaroos.

Recent rains have brought his brown fields back to life. The prospect of a lush meal has proved to be irresistible to mobs of marsupials, which have been munching their way through the vegetation. "It's grass that we need to feed to our own stock but it's also grass. If that grass goes, environmentally it's terrible. We see dust. When the wind comes up our dust goes to Brisbane. That's the stuff that we want to try and stop," Mr Tully said. It is not only wet weather that has boosted marsupial numbers but also Russia's suspension of kangaroo meat imports earlier this year because of hygiene concerns. The decision means fewer animals are being hunted under licence.

The mayor of the Murweh Shire in western Queensland, Mark O'Brien, is keen for the trade to clean up its act and drive out rogue operators. "It's one of those industries that we describe out here as alternate economic engines that we've been looking for to replace a very quickly declining sheep and wool industry. When we open it up again, the cowboys will find that they won't be able to sell the product," he explained. While kangaroo populations may have increased sharply in Queensland, officials in New South Wales say a severe drought has caused numbers of two species - eastern and western greys - to fall significantly. A temporary ban on hunting has been imposed in a 100,000 sq km (38,610 sq miles) area near the town of Griffith. Animal rights campaigners believe Australia's kangaroos are on the brink of extinction. They dispute government figures that estimate there are about 25 million of these furry pouched creatures spread across the continent. *BBC


"No Defence for our suffering kangaroos" Wildlife Victoria is outraged over the current kangaroo cull at the Puckapunyal Military base near Seymour in Victoria, questioning whether non lethal methods have even been applied. Spokesperson for Wildlife Victoria Manfred Zabinskas said "Culling is fast becoming an old fashioned and inhumane approach to wildlife management. Kangaroos fleeing gunfire are at increased risk of injuries such as getting caught in fencing in their bid to escape and because the fences are electrified this poses a horrific death." As an experienced wildlife rescuer and carer of 13 years Mr. Zabinskas has observed many kangaroos in grief and said "These kangaroos will be traumatised by the experience, they form extremely strong social bonds within their mob and this will leave them grieving for their mate or missing family members.

Joeys can become separated from their mothers during the panic and spend weeks crying out in their desperate attempt to reunite with their mums. Many of those mums won’t be there after the cull. This inhumane practice must stop; it is no longer acceptable to the Australian and international public." As Department of Defence or the Department of Sustainability and Environment is yet to confirm the number of kangaroos killed Wildlife Victoria volunteer rescuers have been working with the Australian Society for Kangaroos in patrolling the perimeter roads ready to rescue any kangaroos that may become victim to fence entanglements or road trauma and provide them with immediate medical care. For further comment, Manfred Zabinskas 0438 681 501 Fiona Corke, 0432 403 994 Wildlife Victoria Media Release

Flying Foxes

I know that you are all busy but never too busy to help the bats! It will take less than 10 mins to copy and paste the pro-forma letter below in to an email and press send. The bats in the RBG need you (and me) to get as many people as possible to submit comments to Botanic Gardens Trust in relation to the draft Public Environment Report that BGT are currently preparing for submission to DEWHA. Please circulate this amongst your friends and relations and encourage them to put in submissions. The BGT is making similar requests of its supporter groups. The PER process requires that submissions are made to the BGT. The BGT are obligated to provide copies of any submissions received to DEWHA so your submissions will not get lost. We would appreciate it if you would also spend a copy to Submissions must be made before 5pm on 23rd December, so there’s plenty of opportunity to get the message out there as far and wide as possible. Submissions need to be sent to To respond by post, write to Flying-fox Relocation PER Feedback, Royal Botanic Gardens, Mrs Macquaries Road, Sydney NSW 2000 We’ve provided a letter below that you can simply copy into an email and send. If you would like to add to this that is even better. Please remember to keep everything you say factual and polite. We want to make it hard for DEWHA to approve the action. Letters that are rude or make wild claims are unlikely to influence any decision. Stick to the facts and your submission can make a difference! Reference: 2008/4646To: To Whom It May Concern: Re: Draft Public Environment Report The grey-headed flying-fox camp at the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens is a camp critical to the survival of this threatened species by the criteria defined in the Draft National Recovery Plan for the Grey-headed Flying-fox. In addition, of all the camps in Sydney, it is the least likely to be affected by heat stress in the event of high temperatures and low humidity. It is also within 5km of a year-round source of high quality food. In the draft Public Environment Report, the Botanic Gardens Trust has: • failed to show how it will replace this high-quality roosting habitat with habitat of equal quality. • failed to provide evidence to support their claim that the animals dispersed from the will join other existing camps in the Sydney metropolitan region. • not indicated how it will ensure that only 7,000 flying-foxes join the camp at Ku ring gai Flying- fox Reserve, nor how it will stop bats going to the other Sydney based camps, given that all other camp managers have indicated they do not have capacity for additional animals. • not presented any evidence showing that stress-based abortions only occur in the third trimester of pregnancy. • presented no evidence to show that females who abort do so only, or even predominantly, in a roost site• failed to demonstrate that checking campsites for aborted foetuses is an effective method of detecting stress related abortions. • acknowledged that some roost sites cannot be monitored for abortions. • failed to recognise the difficulties associated with using binoculars to determine the presence of dependant young bats when wrapped under their mothers’ wings in a group of roosting animals• failed to address the developmental stages of the GHFF in their planning. There is a time period during which the young fly out with the rest of the camp but remain nutritionally dependant on their mothers but do not remain with her whilst she forages. Mother and young only re-establish contact the next day when they both return to a common roost location. • indicated that it intends to conduct afternoon sleep disturbance despite peer-reviewed research showing that this is the time of day when GHFF sleep the most. • not provided any research to show the effect on GHFF of sleep deprivation • not provided any research to show the effect of smoke inhalation of smoke on GHFF. • not demonstrated how their research will take account of the transitory nature of the GHFF –the animals being observed at any given time are likely not to be only the animals that were in the initial cohort. The BGT have not indicated how they will monitor the impact of the dispersal on animals that leave the dispersal area. I urge that the BGT abandon this proposed dispersal because the loss of a high-quality camp and the effects of dispersal are likely to have a significant impact on grey-headed flying-foxes. Yours sincerely, Cc. Network Item

EPBC Act review

On 30 October 2009, Dr Allan Hawke presented his Final Report for the Independent Review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) – ‘The Australian Environment Act: Report of the Independent Review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999’ – to the Hon Peter Garrett AM MP, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts.

Following our email earlier today, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts presented the Final Report for the Independent Review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) — The Australian Environment Act: Report of the Independent review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 – to Parliament today, as required by section 522A of the Act. The aim of the Report is to review the performance of the Act and, consistent with the objective of protecting the environment and biological diversity and maintain ecological processes, to recommend reforms that:

promote the sustainability of Australia's economic development; reduce and simplify the regulatory burden; ensure activities under the Act represent the most efficient and effective ways of achieving desired environmental outcomes; and are based on an effective federal arrangement.

The Report proposes an integrated reform plan revolving around the following nine core elements:

redraft the Act to better reflect the Australian Government’s role, streamline its arrangements and rename it the Australian Environment Act; establish an independent Environment Commission to advise the government on project approvals, strategic assessments, bioregional plans and other statutory decisions; invest in the building blocks of a better regulatory system such as national environmental accounts, skills development, policy guidance, and acquisition of critical spatial information; streamline approvals through earlier engagement in planning processes and provide for more effective use and greater reliance on strategic assessments, bioregional planning and approvals bilateral agreements; set up an Environment Reparation Fund and national ‘biobanking’ scheme; provide for environmental performance audits and inquiries; create a new matter of national environmental significance for ‘ecosystems of national importance’ and introduce an interim greenhouse trigger; improve transparency in decision-making and provide greater access to the courts for public interest litigation; and mandate the development of foresight reports to help government manage emerging environmental threats.

The Report’s 71 recommendations are aimed at implementing this plan. The Australian Government is now giving consideration to its response. The Report addresses a broad range of issues across the entirety of the EPBC Act’s operation, and is available at: Dr Hawke has also prepared a series of fact sheets outlining key recommendations and reforms. These are also available on the Review’s website. The Minister’s media release is available at: Thank you for your interest in the Review. Kind regards, EPBC Act Review Secretariat *Network Item


This holiday season caribou — also called reindeer — are struggling as never before. They are starving as they desperately try to dig up the food that is just out of reach. And because of changing temperatures, they are being swept to their deaths in rushing rivers. In fact, populations of caribou have plummeted almost 60% in just three decades. And now, a new report states that global warming is to blame. They are unable to access food. As global warming causes warmer temperatures in the Arctic, more rain is falling when it should be snow. When rain falls on snow that is on the ground, it creates a thick layer of ice. This prevents caribou from “digging” through to reach food on the ground. The extra ice makes feeding increasingly more difficult, if not impossible, leaving the reindeer exhausted and starving. They are drowning in unfrozen rivers. Reindeer follow the same carefully chosen migration path every year. But as global warming melts ice on the rivers earlier and earlier, they are forced to try to swim across rivers that are usually frozen over. Tragically, many calves are too weak to keep up with the rushing waters and are swept to their death. *NWF


As many as 419 manatees have been found dead since January 1st, which is the highest number on record for a calendar year. The decade will end on a low note for conservationists working to protect Florida's endangered population of manatees, as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute documented 419 manatee carcasses in state waters so far this year, the most for any year since record-keeping began in 1974. That number accounts for 12.5% of the entire population, clearly an unsustainable rate. Most of the deaths could be directly attributed to human causes, with boat strikes constituting as much as 30% of the fatalities, which alone is three times greater than natural causes. One of the reasons that manatees are so slow and docile is that they have no natural predators, which means that their biggest threat comes from human development. Aside from boat strikes, manatees are routinely crushed or drowned in canal locks, hurt and entangled by fishing line and hooks, and they are highly vulnerable to deadly blooms of "red tide" algae. Meanwhile, most of the natural deaths this year were blamed on colder than average waters, leading to a high mortality rate among infant manatees.Aside from the bad news at the end of this decade, the overall manatee population is believed to have increased slightly over the last several decades, with a reasonably stable population of just over 3,500. But developers and the boating industry have been lobbying for loosened restrictions in recent years, which could continue to threaten the conservation of these subtly charismatic mammals in years to come. Toreport a dead or distressed manatee, you can call the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922). *MNN

Tortoise wins race of her life

IN A last-minute reprieve, the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water has decided not to kill an endangered tortoise its officers had said they would destroy today. The African spurred tortoise, the only one of its kind in Australia, was left in front of the Australian Reptile Park near Gosford this month. It was healthy and attached to its box was a simple note: ''Please take care of me.'' But when the zoo contacted the state authorities to begin the process of quarantine for the tortoise, it was told it would have to be killed. Disease was a concern. The reptile's origin was unknown. 'This is an illegally internationally trafficked animal,'' the department said.

Rangers were to arrive today to take the tortoise. Yesterday its keepers were saying their final goodbyes. It was domesticated and they had grown attached to it. 'I can't understand it,'' the zoo's general manager, Mary Rayner, told the Herald. ''There are quite a few tears at the thought of this happening. We can't stop the rangers. They will request the animal and they will take it.'' But then the department changed its mind. After being contacted by the Herald, a spokesman telephoned the zoo to say the tortoise was safe. "'We're so excited and so thankful,'' the tortoise's keeper, Liz Vella, said. ''She is a very affectionate tortoise.'' Zoo staff have called the tortoise Libby, short for Liberty. She is likely to be in quarantine for 90 days, after which she is expected to go on public display. *SMH

HSI Action Alert


The Government’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties is currently investigating the proposed listing of three shark species – the shortfin mako, longfin mako and porbeagle sharks, under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) as migratory species. This follows the listing of these three species at the end of 2008 in the Appendices of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). Listing under Appendix II of CMS encourages much needed international cooperation to work towards the conservation of these species.

Shark species worldwide are facing numerous threats. Sharks are inherently vulnerable to over-fishing because they grow slowly, are late to mature and produce relatively few young. Species, such as the shortfin mako, longfin mako and porbeagle sharks, are in trouble across the world, and particularly in places such as the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Oceans. In Australia, HSI is also seriously concerned about the state of our shark populations. HSI believes that this international cooperation will be crucial to prevent further decline of our shark species.

In Australia, this protection is translated into federal environmental law by listing the three species as migratory under the EPBC Act. All species listed under the CMS Appendices for which Australia is a range state, must be listed as migratory species under this law with no Ministerial discretion to do otherwise. The committee is currently inviting comments on the listing of these species, by 15th January 2010. However industry, particularly recreational fishers who fish for mako sharks in Commonwealth waters are up in arms. They believe, despite the lack of scientific evidence, that these sharks are common and do not require protection. HSI’s view is that these shark species must be protected, before it is too late and to meet our international and EPBC obligations. Unfortunately, Environment Minister Peter Garrett has suggested that the catch and release by recreational fishers will not have a significant impact on populations of these species, a fact that HSI strongly disagrees with. We are therefore asking that you also write expressing your views in support of the strongest possible migratory species listing.

Action required by 15th January 2010: Please write to the Secretary of the Joint Standing Committee of Treaties letting them know that you support the listing of the shortfin mako, longfin mako and porbeagle sharks as migratory species under the EPBC Act. You may also wish to highlight the threats shark populations in Australia and worldwide are facing, and the importance of Australia taking action before it is too late. Committee Secretary, Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, Department of House of Representatives, PO Box 6021 Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600, By email to:, For further information on the Committee inquiry see Further information on HSI's campaigns at


On the operating table lies a sick koala. He's just been brought in by a driver who found the animal sitting in the middle of a busy road. Veterinarian Claude Lacasse determines the koala has not been hit by a car but she immediately detects one serious problem facing many of the marsupials: Chlamydia, a disease which can lead to a very slow and painful death for koalas living in the wild. Koalas generate almost US$1 billion for the Australian economy, thanks to tourists who come to see this national icon. But these cuddly creatures are under serious threat from infectious disease and habitat loss and some scientists believe they are facing extinction. "Extinction is inevitable in some areas," according to Dr Jon Hanger, a veterinary scientist at Australia Zoo's Wildlife Hospital. "I certainly hope we don't see it across Australia. But if we don't take the decline seriously and pick up on the warning signs now it's certainly a risk."

A recent report by the Australian Koala Foundation backs up those beliefs. It claims the national population has dropped from 100,000 to fewer than 43,000 in the past six years and if nothing is done to stop the decline, koalas could be extinct within 30 years. "I can promise you after being on Government committees for years and lobbying minister after minister, I see nothing in our country being done to protect koalas," said Australia Koala Foundation president Deborah Tabart. "If the Government had grasped this problem 10 years ago, things would be so different. Instead they're on the brink of extinction -- I can promise you that." Back at the hospital, at least a dozen koalas are in intensive care. Outside, in open-air enclosures, many more are recuperating from disease, dog attacks and encounters with cars. At least 700 koalas are brought here every year for treatment. The majority have Chlamydia, a disease which attacks their eyes and bladder. Most would die in the wild but here at the Wildlife Hospital they receive a two month course of antibiotics and are then returned to their natural habitat -- generally within a kilometer of where they were found.

I was lucky enough to get up close and personal with one of the koalas, recuperating at the Australian Wildlife Hospital. The zoo keepers had named him Tullie, a seven-year-old who was recovering after being hit by a car. He sat in the fork of a tree, surrounded by eucalyptus leaves in one of the outdoor enclosures. The keeper described him as a real "softie" while she gave Tullie his medication. I stood next to Tullie and patted him. He reached out his paw and touched my hand. The pads of his paw were soft and despite his sharp claws used to climb trees, he was so gentle. He held my hand for a few seconds and did this repeatedly while my piece was filmed for the news story we were shooting.

His nose had deep scratches from the accident and he was also nursing some internal injuries. I was amazed at how peaceful and docile this animal was, even though he was from the wild. Besides Chlamydia, there is another disease plaguing these marsupials -- and there is no vaccine or cure and it's spreading rapidly. Koala AIDS or KIDS (Koala Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is similar to AIDS in humans. The immune system of the animals is weakened and they are made susceptible to cancer and other deadly infections. The hospital's head veterinary scientist, Dr. Jon Hanger, discovered the retro virus causing the condition and says it's just as severe as AIDS in humans but affects koalas more quickly. "It's knocking off a large proportion of koalas that come into this hospital and that means a large number in the bush are dying from it too."

The disease is spread by koalas coming into contact with each other. Hanger believes most of the animals carry the virus, but only some are predisposed to it becoming full-blown KIDS. "There is no vaccine available now and may never be, but what it's saying to us is that we need to be very careful about the way we manage the population. We have to stop destroying habitat and fragmenting it and we've got to address all the causes of death". Tabart agrees and says the key factor in the decline of the koala population is loss of habitat. Land clearing, urbanization and the removal of eucalyptus forests are causing koalas to lose their homes and making them more prone to encounters with cars and dog attacks.

Her slogan "No Tree, No Me," is something she is telling world leaders at the climate change conference in Copenhagen, where she is highlighting this problem as well as talking about how koalas can be part of the solution to lower carbon emissions in Australia through the preservation of their forests. Her research shows it would take trillions of saplings planted across a land mass three times the size of Australia to replace the carbon stored in the koala forests on the east coast of Australia if they were destroyed by fire or deforestation. "Without these trees, there will be no koalas. So once again, the beloved koala has the answer to Australia's future," she said. *CNN


The Federal Government has rejected some of the recommendations from a review of national environment laws. The review suggested the Government expand the laws to introduce tougher checks on logging under Regional Forest Agreements. But Environment Minister Peter Garrett says the Government is happy to use the existing agreements to monitor logging. The Opposition's spokesman, Simon Birmingham, says he supports the Government's decision. "What we should not be imposing on the forestry sector is a duplication of arrangements and that duplication would come by having them have to comply with Regional Forestry Agreements on the one hand and EPBC Act monitoring on the other hand," he said.

But Greens Senator Bob Brown has slammed the Federal Government's decision. He says the environmental requirements within the current process are not working. "The requirement is being broken by the logging industry and the Minister says 'well, I'm not going to take the recommendation to see that gets fixed'," Senator Brown said. "This is the powerful vested interests in the logging industry knobbling both the big parties to do the wrong thing." Senator Brown says the Government should also accept a proposal to introduce a greenhouse benchmark for major projects. The review recommended the scope of the current laws be expanded to cover major developments that would produce more than a certain level of carbon emissions.

But Mr Garrett says introducing a benchmark is not needed because the Government is committed to the emissions trading scheme (ETS). Senator Brown says more needs to be done. "We need to know when new developments come along whether it's appropriate that they produce massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions," he said. The Opposition says introducing a greenhouse benchmark for major developments would send projects off-shore. Mr Birmingham says the proposal would hurt the economy. "There would be no greater driver for carbon leakage for businesses to set up off shore than to have a greenhouse trigger in place under the EPBC Act," he said. "It would become a very risky and cumbersome process for businesses looking to establish in Australia." *ABC

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