Sunday, May 30, 2010

Wildlife Bytes 31/5/10

Wildlife MiniBytes

Fraser Island Dingoes

Heres a report and photos of the Fraser Island Dingo Rally held last week in Brisbane.


The 19th May was the second anniversary when over 500 kangaroos were brutally killed at Belconnen, and then later another 4000 or so kangaroos were needlessly killed at the Majura Army Base. The Belconnen massacre was bad enough and traumatic enough for those who watched, but the fact that it was authorised and supported by the Federal Government...and the ACT RSPCA .......appalled many Australians. Both Peter Garrett and Kevin Rudd could have stopped both kills, but chose not to do so. Aided and abetted by such as Minister Tony Burke and Mike Kelly, the whole World watched as these defenceless kangaroos and their joeys, were run down and brutally killed. And by a so-called Labor government no less. Along with the rest of the World, we now watch as the bulldozers move into Belconnen, and restructure the area for houses, with scant concern for the small endangered animals that the kangaroos were supposed to be threatening. As a result of that tragedy, many people from different states and backgrounds with a diverse range of skills have come together and networked to campaign even more strongly for the kangaroos. Many groups and individuals have this week written to those responsible, reminding them that Belconnen was a very dark day for all Australians, and one that will never be forgotten. * WPAA


Three baby mountain gorillas and an adult female have died in Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park, possibly from a combination of extremely cold and rainy weather. Around 680 mountain gorillas remain in the wild, making them one of the world's most endangered great apes, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said in a statement. The statement said the cause of death was not yet known but there was no indication of foul play. "We are all shocked and saddened by the death of these baby gorillas as well as the adult female, and by the grave implications for the mountain gorilla population as a whole," Eugene Rutagarama, director of the International Gorilla Conservation Program, said in the statement. Around half the mountain gorilla population live in the Virunga chain of volcanoes which straddle the central African countries of Rwanda, Uganda and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The rest live in Bwindi Impenetrable Park in Uganda. The primates are under threat from poachers, the destruction of their habitat, the live ape trade, disease and fragmentation, the WWF said. Rwanda's gorilla-viewing tourism industry is a leading source of foreign exchange. *Reuters


A Hampshire aquarium is celebrating after successfully breeding one of the most dangerous amphibians on Earth. Phantasmal poison frogs, which can kill anybody who merely touches them, have skin 200 times more toxic than morphine. The frogs, found on the western slopes of the Andes in Ecuador, South America, are so rare they are in danger of becoming extinct. But 26 have now been born at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Portsmouth, after a successful breeding program. When they reach adulthood, the frogs measure just 1cm and turn bright red in colour with three green fluorescent stripes on their back. Aquarium spokeswoman Jenna MacFarlane said: "These beautiful frogs are under increasing threat in the wild due to loss of habitat and pollution and we are delighted to have been able to breed them successfully here. "It's imperative we are able to mimic exactly their wild environment in order for the species to thrive in captivity and it's a real achievement they are breeding so successfully. "They've passed the critical stage of development from tadpoles into froglets and they now look like perfect miniature replicas of their parents." Ms McFarlane added: "Despite their deadly status, it is hoped that the phantasmal poison frog could one day help save lives. "Scientists have discovered that an extract from the skin of the phantasmal poison frog Epipedrobates tricolor can block pain 200 times more effectively than morphine, and without addiction and other serious side effects." * Orange News

Flying Foxes

Dead branches in fig trees near Cairns' city library have been pruned in a scheme designed to protect a flying fox colony described by the mayor as "an integral part of the experience of visiting Cairns". But not all councillors share the mayor's enthusiasm for the animals with one saying they did little more than "crap everywhere" and carrydisease. And Kennedy MP Bob Katter says an outbreak of the deadly Hendra virus on the Sunshine Coast proves the need for culls to control the animals in North Queensland, including parts of the Tableland. Cairns council workers trimmed trees on Abbott and Lake streets during evenings this week, at times selected to avoid disturbing the bats and inadvertently sparked debate about how much consideration should be given to the creatures. "Council has come up with a pruning regime that will be carried out between 7pm and 10pm when 99 per cent of both species are known to be away from the roost collecting dinner," Cairns Mayor Val Schier said. "The colony is an integral part of the experience of visiting Cairns and many tourists love the experience of watching the bats take flight on dusk." Cr Robert Pyne said he thought that was a "mad thing to say". *Cairns Post

Monster Found on Beach

Locals in a small Canadian town have been stumped by the appearance of a bizarre creature, which was dragged from a lake. The animal, which has a long hairy body with bald skin on its head, feet and face, has prompted wild internet speculation that it is a more evolved version of the famous 'Montauk monster'. The creature was discovered by two nurses in the town of Kitchenuhmaykoosib in Ontario, Canada, while out on a walk with their dog. When the dog began sniffing in the lake, the two women started investigating, before the dog pulled the dead animal out.Read more

Oil Spill

More than 600 animal species are threatened by the expanding oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico, officials say. Louisiana's Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says the threat affects about 445 species of fish, 134 birds, 45 mammals, and 32 reptiles and amphibians. Among the birds, the biggest fears centre on the brown pelican. State biologists Robert Lover said the graceful state bird of Louisiana lays eggs on the coastal islands and may be ingesting fish contaminated with oil. Similar threats may face the piping plover, royal tern and sandpiper. For amphibians and reptiles, Kemp's Ridley, a severely endangered sea turtle, is seen as threatened because its migration for the nesting season, which has begun, is cut off by the oil slick. Alligators, frogs and sea snakes face threats as well. Sea mammals in peril include the bottlenose dolphin, manatee and various whales. But land mammals including coyotes, raccoons and foxes could also see their habitat polluted. Many species of fish and crustaceans also face obvious threats in a region that has a huge fishing industry. They include the bluefin tuna, red snapper, tarpon and cobia along with crabs, shrimp and oysters. *AFP

Ed Comment; Some US Conservation groups are facing a member backlash as it surfaces that at least one of them has taken $10 million in donations from BP.

Wildlife Pets

A fisherman in China was surprised to catch a mystery creature which looked like a cross between a dinosaur and a turtle. Sun Yongcheng's catch, in Weishan Lake, Anhui province, was later identified as an alligator snapping turtle, which is not native to the country. The species is only native to North America and was probably someone's pet before being dumped in the lake, the local fishing department said. The creature's alien status meant that it could have posed a danger to the local ecological system, they added. Sun said he was surprised when he netted the alligator turtle, which measures 76cm long and 30cm wide and weighs 7kg. He said: "I suddenly noticed a black thing was hooked on the net, which scared me. It was struggling and biting the net when I pulled it up." The spokesman for the Jining Fishing Bureau said this was the first time an alligator snapping turtle had been found in the local water system. He said: "Somebody may have dumped their pet into the lake, which could greatly endanger the local ecology." *Orange News


As everyone who has tried to get a positive media story running about kangaroos, possums, or flying foxes would hardly be surprised, Australia is ranked 28th in the world for 'freedom of the press'. New Zealand is ranked 9th. Why aren't we 1st? Goes to show our Australian "free press" is hardly that. *WPAA


The Tasmanian government's animal welfare advisers have approved the use of a highly toxic poison to help eradicate rabbits on Macquarie Island. The island, which lies about halfway between Australia and Antarctica, has been ravaged in recent years by an infestation of rabbits. The poison approved by the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee is called Brodifacoum and it is currently under review by the Federal Government's pesticides authority due to environmental concerns. Head of the committee Professor Rob White told ABC's Stateline program it was a difficult decision given that some native wildlife are almost certain to suffer secondary poisoning. "Our advice to the minister was for it to be used against rabbits on Macquarie Island only and for this year only and for this particular winter period," he said. *ABC


Animal welfare groups have condemned the slaughter of up to 100 native animals in Hobart's north in the past two months. Almost 100 kangaroos and wallabies have been found clubbed, bitten and possibly shot, at Glenorchy tip and nearby Tolosa Park in the past two months. Police believe the attacks happened outside the tip's opening hours. Inspector John Arnold says some of the animals had been trapped only to escape and later die from the shock. "So we're having some animals that are dying at the time but it may well be that some are dying as a result of that two or three days down the track." It appears most of them have been clubbed to death, some have exhibited animal bites and we're not ruling out that some of them even died as a result of firearm wounds," he said. Police says dogs were used to trap the animals. The RSPCA's Paul Swaitkowski says it is deplorable. "To me it sounds like people are getting their jollies, so to speak, by killing, maiming and slaughtering animals which can't defend themselves," he said. Anyone with information is urged to contact CrimeStoppers. *ABC


The Federal Opposition has accused the Government of secretly ditching any possibility of taking Japan to court over whaling. Opposition environment spokesman Greg Hunt says there is no money in the federal budget for the court case. Mr Hunt says it shows the Prime Minister's election promise to take strong action against whaling was hollow. "A bit of sunrise rhetoric from the Prime Minister which is dropped before sunset," he said. "The budget papers - which are a test of a Government's seriousness - have dropped all money for a case against Japan. "The budget papers have dropped all reference to a case against Japan in the purpose, the intention, the goal of our marine mammal conservation program." Mr Hunt says Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has misled the public. "This is a Government which has used rhetoric to imply that it was serious about whaling," he said. "But in the cool light of day, there's no money in the budget, there's no reference to a case against Japan in the budget." However, a spokesman for Environment Minister Peter Garrett says the Government remains committed to the issue.He says the Government is trying to resolve the issue diplomatically, but funding will be made available if legal action is needed. *ABC

A marine expert says allowing oil exploration in waters near Kangaroo Island would put at risk the only known feeding area for a rare beaked whale species. Dr Mike Bossley says two drilling leases made available this week by the Federal Government also fall within one of only two known blue whale feeding areas. He says the area off the South Australian coast has been identified as having high conservation value and opening it up to drilling shows that the Government has its priorities wrong. "Clearly the protection of the marine environment comes very low on the Government's priority list," he said. "This Government was elected partly on the basis of having environmental credentials but when it comes to protecting the marine environment we've seen very little evidence of that." *Channel 7 News


A San Pedro fish canning and packing company that pleaded guilty to federal wildlife trafficking charges has been fined and sentenced to probation. Tri Marine Fish Co. under-reported the weight of sardines brought to dock in 2008 and 2009 by nearly 650,000 pounds, resulting in underpayment to several local fishing vessel operators and inaccurate harvest data given to fisheries biologists. The company pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts in federal court May 5. U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen J. Hillman ordered the company to pay a $150,000 criminal fine, including about $40,000 in restitution to the boat operators and the state Department of Fish and Game. The company also received three years of probation. The case was investigated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Law Enforcement and the state Department of Fish and Game. The sentence was announced earlier this month by the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney's Office. *Daily

Rare Parrots Stolen

A pair of valuable South American parrots have been stolen from Sydney's Taronga Zoo. Police said the two female "green-winged" or "red and green" macaws, aged seven and nine, were reported missing about 9am yesterday. There was no sign of forced entry into their enclosure but the padlock to the aviary was gone, police said. One of the macaws was hatched at the zoo in October 2000 and the other was bought from breeders in September 2002, a zoo spokeswoman said. Zoo officials told police the birds would be difficult to sell on the black market. Zoo keepers and police also warned that the sheer size and power of the macaws - a common sight on pirates' shoulders, according to popular legend - can pose a danger if they are improperly handled. The break-in follows the theft of two macaws from a home in Cann Street, Bass Hill, in February. Jackson and Coco were believed to be worth up to $8000 each and had just hatched a chick when they were taken. Police said they were continuing to investigate that theft. Police urged anyone with information about either theft to contact their nearest police station, Taronga Zoo on 9969 2777 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. *AAP

Tassie Devils

The Tasmanian State Government is scrambling to stop wildlife parks selling endangered Tasmanian devils to interstate parks. It gave East Coast Natureworld owner Bruce Englefield an export licence this month to send four devils to the Hunter Valley Zoo in NSW and Peel Zoo near Perth. He has another three devils in quarantine at his park that are earmarked for Phillip Island zoo in Victoria. The devils are not part of the Government's official insurance population drawn from the wild and housed in zoos around the country. The gruesome devil facial tumour disease has wiped out 80 per cent of the devil population and the insurance population could be the only thing standing between the species and extinction. Read more

Wildlife Bytes


Captive-bred critically endangered Regent Honeyeaters are being released into Australia's Chiltern - Mount Pilot National Park as part of a recovery programne to curb the species' decline. Forty-four birds will be released into the park wearing coloured leg bands for monitoring, twenty-five of which will also be fitted with radio transmitters. ‘Across Australia we estimate there are now less than 1,000 birds in the wild, with only 100 of these remaining in Victoria,' said Dean Ingwersen, of Birds Australia. ‘Recent surveys suggest that the number of Regent Honeyeaters has continued to decline during the past five years. We believe this is due to pressure from the continuing effect of historic land clearing, food scarcity due to drought, and competition from more aggressive species which out compete them in their favoured woodland habitat.'

The release of the captive-bred birds, which were bred at Taronga Zoo in Sydney and Adelaide Zoo, follows on from the success of the first large-scale trial release programme in May 2008. Trial results have been described as ‘very positive'. Sarah Kelly, who is a biodiversity officer at Australia's Department of Sustainability and Environment said that in the first trial 27 birds were released into the wild, with all but seven monitored daily by radio-tracking and visual observation for nearly two months after the release date. ‘The results of the first trial were very positive and exceeded our expectations,' she said. Once seen in flocks of hundreds there are now just a few Regent Honeyeaters remaining, and it has become one of Australia's 'flagship' conservation species.

It feeds mainly on nectar from a small number of eucalypt species, acting as a pollinator for many flowering plants. It is an endangered species, with between just 800 and 1,500 of the birds left in Australia. Loss of woodland habitat is the major threat to the species – 85 per cent of the box and ironbark forest and woodlands the honeyeater favours have been cleared for agriculture. 'Thanks to the support of volunteers we were able to determine the survivorship of the captive-bred birds in the wild, while also tracking their movement and interaction with wild birds. The hope is that the captive-bred birds will mate with the wild birds, increasing the population base of the species.'

Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park was selected as the preferred release site as wild birds often utilise this habitat and it would appear to provide the best chance for survival of the birds. Ms Kelly said a monitoring team, which includes specially trained community volunteers, will drive post-release surveys for about 12 weeks after the release. "The community's involvement in the monitoring is a vital part of the project's success," Ms Kelly said. The project is the largest captive-bred release of its kind in Victoria, and is funded through Birds Australia, Taronga Zoo and the DSE as part of the Regent Honeyeater recovery programme. *Wildlife Extra

Flying Foxes

Avid gardener Jack Harwood is fed up with the grey-headed flying foxes, which he claims are destroying his 12-metre palm tree. Mr Harwood, of California Gully, said up to 30 grey-headed flying foxes were killing his 26-year-old palm. “They’re here from 8pm till 5am. “In the last four to five weeks the numbers have increased. “There are droppings all over the place.” Mr Harwood said the tree was the pride of his garden and he was saddened at the thought of losing it. “It would be a shame, because they’re killing it. “I think it is time they were moved on. I would hate to think what they’re doing to the trees in Rosalind Park. “I don’t know how they’ll move them on, though.” On Tuesday, the Bendigo Advertiser reported that City of Greater Bendigo acting manager of parks Roger Barbetti would wait and see how to respond to the bats in Rosalind Park.

“The reality for us is that it’s a new phenomenon and we’re not wildlife experts,” he said. “We’re relying on the Department of Sustainability and Environment and other departments, and we’re monitoring the population and the impact it is having.” Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett last week agreed that the Botanic Gardens Trust could move the 22,000 colony, which has killed 18 mature trees and threatens more. *Bendigo Advertiser

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More than 1,000 grey-headed flying-foxes are roosting in Adelaide's eastern suburbs, the Department for Environment and Heritage says. Department regional ecologist Jason van Weenen said the fruitbats were displaced from Queensland and New South Wales due to habitat clearance and a critical food shortage. "We expect the grey-headed flying-foxes to move out of Adelaide and go back to eastern Australia in the next month or so, but there is a chance they may stay in Adelaide for longer," he said. Mr van Weenen said the department was concerned about the impacts grey-headed flying-foxes were having on properties and residents in the eastern suburbs, particularly at Fullarton where the main colony is roosting.

He said the bats would this week be disturbed when they returned to the site in the morning in a bid to relocate them to a "more appropriate area, where their impacts on properties and residents will not be so great". "It is very important that members of the public do not attempt to disperse, frighten or harass grey-headed flying-foxes, because it may reduce the effectiveness of any coordinated relocation methods being used by DEH," he said. Mr van Weenen said local residents and hills fruit growers would be consulted ahead of the relocation. The fruitbats are considered threatened nationally and are a protected species in South Australia. He said people should not touch them. "All sick or stressed wild animals can scratch or bite when handled and a very low percentage of grey-headed flying-foxes carry diseases including Australian Bat Lyssavirus," he said.

"In the unlikely event someone is bitten or scratched, they should immediately wash the wound thoroughly with warm soapy water for five minutes and then seek medical advice as soon as possible." People who spot a flying-fox, particularly one deemed to be sick, injured or trapped in fruit netting, should call DEH on (08) 8336 0926 or email A fact sheet for horse owners regarding the potential transmission of Hendra virus from grey-headed flying-foxes to horses is available on the PIRSA website at * Adelaide Now

A Sunshile Coast company says it has developed an ultrasonic device which will move bats on without hurting them. The claim came as preliminary blood tests cleared 10 of 11 people of Hendra virus after their exposure to an infected horse at Tewantin last week. They will have to be tested again in 21 and 42 days. Fruit bats are the natural host for the deadly Hendra virus, which can be passed on to horses and then on to humans. The bats are protected native fauna and can not be killed without permission. Sunshine Coast MP Peter Wellington called on the Government yesterday to remove the prohibition. However, Bird Gard general manager Darren Stutchbury said there was an easier and more humane solution.

“The Bird Gard ultrasonic device has proved successful at the Northern Territory Royal Australian Air Force base,” Mr Stutchbury said. “Within two days, two thirds of the 300,000 strong colony had moved on. “The ultrasonic device has also worked wonders in backyards around Sunshine Plaza.” Mr Stutchbury said the product had increased in popularity since fears of Hendra virus. He said the ultrasonic device was priced between $1577 and $12,500 depending on the size of the colony and the area affected. Communicable Diseases Branch senior director Dr Christine Selvey said Queensland Health was awaiting blood samples for the 11th case so they can be tested. “They are still coming from interstate where the person had travelled after contact with the horse,” Dr Selvey said. “Symptoms of the disease in humans generally present five to 21 days after exposure to the virus.” Dr Selvey said the evidence from the recent outbreaks was that even someone with a moderate to high exposure has less than one-in-10 chance of actually getting the virus. *Sunshine Coast Daily


Conservation groups have accused the Federal Government of failing to protect the koala under national laws. The Commonwealth is currently considering a plan to make the koala "conservation dependent", which would see the states play a role in removing threats such as developments that could destroy koala habitats. But Deborah Tabart from the Australian Koala Foundation says the states have failed so far and the koala needs greater protection if it is to survive. "Here we have an animal that should be listed by the Federal Government," she said. "'Conservation dependent' basically means nothing. You can still leave the decision-making to the states or local governments, and that's seen thousands of koalas die. "We all know that the states haven't been able to protect the koala in the last 200 years. Why would we think they could in the future?"I am so disappointed in Minister [Peter] Garrett." Ms Tabart says there are as few as 43,000 koalas left in Australia. Environment Minister Peter Garrett says the "conservation dependent" listing would give state governments a key role in koala protection. "The responsibilities need to be shared," he said. "My expectation is that everyone will pull their weight." The Federal Government will make its decision later this year. *ABC

Fire Sale

The Queensland government has announced the sale of Forestry Plantations Queensland - the first transaction in its controversial asset sales. Treasurer Andrew Fraser said the 99-year licence for the timber plantation business would be sold for $603 million to Hancock Queensland Plantations. The sale price is well in excess of the $500 million that had been anticipated. Mr Fraser said he signed the contract on Tuesday morning. "By reaching agreement on a price of $603 million, this exceeds original expectations and is great news for Queensland taxpayers,'' Mr Fraser told state parliament on Tuesday. "This is the first of the five commercial businesses to be sold, licensed or leased to the private sector, as the government reforms the state balance sheet and builds a stronger Queensland economy.''

He said award staff would have their jobs guaranteed for three years. Mr Fraser said Hancock Queensland Plantations, a company managed by Hancock Timber Resource Group on behalf of institutional investors, had won the right to grow and harvest the trees. Crown plantation land on which the majority of the business sits will remain in government ownership. The sale includes about 35,000 hectares of freehold land, which is about 10 per cent of the total estate. Hancock Timber Resource Group manages more than two million hectares of timberlands worth approximately $US8.5 billion ($A9.7 billion) across the United States, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. The government also plans to float Queensland Rail's coal and bulk freight business and lease the Port of Brisbane, the Abbott Point coal terminal and Queensland Motorways. *Courier Mail

Ed Comment, At least when Forestry was owned by the Qld government we had some (not a lot, but some) input into leaving adequate buffer zones on creekbeds, and native vegetation corridors, etc. Now we will have no influence against a multinational who will just do whatever they want.


Meat producers across the nation are outraged high school children have been “ideology bashed” by anti-cattle literature in an important exam. Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) has heavily criticised the controversial NAPLAN (National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy) exam, which told year seven students that livestock contributed more to climate change than the coal industry. MLA spokesman David Pietsch said the government-written exam this week printed information that was “biased”, “misleading” and contained “incorrect facts”. “It has naturally got producers quite upset…various letters are going in to ministers on the issue,” Mr Pietsch said. An article in the exam students were questioned on, titled “From Moo to Roo”, extolled the nutritional and environmental virtues of kangaroo meat over beef. It said a beef steak “typically” had 10 per cent to 20pc fat while a ‘roo meat fillet had 2pc.

Beef producers, such as Central Queensland’s Justin MacDonnell, say this is an incorrect figure and is more like 4pc. “Twenty per cent fat is a fifth of a steak,” Mr MacDonnell, a Cattle Council of Australia councillor, told FarmOnline. But causing more crankiness than anything else is the exam’s misleading statement that the livestock industry contributes more the climate change than the coal industry, a claim is attributed to Professor Ross Garnaut. Most government generated pie charts – including graphs by Mr Garnaut and the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory easily accessed online - show the energy sector, including the coal sector, producing a much larger volume of emissions than livestock.

Livestock produces about 11pc of emissions (agriculture a total of about 14pc), however, stationary energy, transport, and fugitive emissions (getting coal out of the ground) in accounts for more than 60pc of Australia’s emissions. v“What’s sad is that kids are seeing this in an exam, which has some sort of credence,” Mr MacDonnell said. Issues of fairness have already been raised in relation to the national numeracy and literacy tests. Make a Comment;

Ed. Comment; No wonder the teachers are outraged about the Naplan tests, but this whole mess may have backfired on whoever decided to include roo meat in the tests. When a student goes to look up kangaroo meat on Google, amongst all the Industry hype pages, there pops up few pages from the various group kangaroo protection websites. School kids are not stupid, they are quite capable of assessing all sides to an arguement.

Tree Kangaroos

Sat-nav technology that protects endangered marsupials? It’s just one of the ingenious ideas that helped win a top conservation award for the inspirational Mathew Akon from Papua New Guinea. The Whitley Awards are all about encouraging and rewarding wildlife conservation in developing countries. WWF-UK donates one of the Whitley prizes – each worth £30,000 – and this year it's gone to Mathew Akon for his grassroots work protecting the very rare Tenkile, or Scott’s tree kangaroo. The Tenkile is one of several endangered species in the remote Torricelli Mountain range in Papua New Guinea. Mathew Akon – who was born in the area and became aware of the decline in its wildlife – works as senior project officer at the Tenkile Conservation Alliance. Mathew received his award from HRH The Princess Royal at a ceremony hosted by BBC wildlife presenter Kate Humble at London’s Royal Geographical Society on 12 May.

The judges were impressed by Mathew’s use of GPS sat-nav technology to map the area and help protect the rare tree kangaroos, whose habitat is restricted to just 150km2 of rainforest. They also admired the way Mathew has enthused and enlisted some 10,000 local people to help protect the rich and rare wildlife in this mountainous region. He won their support by demonstrating the connections between wildlife conservation and improvements in people’s livelihoods and health. Our director of programmes, Glyn Davies, says: “Mathew shows how a wise community leader can engage with local communities, and enable them to press government to recognise their wish for forest conservation. It’s inspiring to see what has been achieved in this remote area of Papua New Guinea." Mathew’s award includes a project grant of £30,000 donated by WWF-UK, an engraved trophy, membership of the influential network of past Whitley Award winners, international recognition and leadership development training. *WWF

Wildlife Meat Consumption

Hey kids, wanna go to the zoo today and look at the crocodiles? And then maybe eat one? The Beijing Zoo puts the same animals on its restaurant menu as it keeps behind bars. Crocodile, kangaroo, antelope, and hippopotamus are among the species that visitors can go the zoo to admire on the hoof, and then savor at lunch – steamed, braised, or roasted – at the Bin Feng Tang restaurant. This has been going on for years, according to the restaurant’s manager, who seemed surprised that a newspaper article this week about her establishment should cause a stir on the Chinese Internet. The news has not gone down well. “How would you feel, watching animals imprisoned in a limited space while eating their siblings?” asked Zheng Yuanjie, a well-known author, on his blog. The zoo restaurant apparently has the requisite license from the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Landscape and Forestry (which would presumably prefer to see crocodiles and hippos in a soup than in their landscapes) and is quite legal because none of the species on the menu is endangered. Nor, the restaurant insists, do any of the animals come from the zoo’s own enclosures. Still, the restaurant’s menu makes some people wonder. “The zoo is where we teach children to be nice to animals,” Qin Xiaona, head of the Capital Animal Welfare Association told the daily “Global Times.” “How can we do this after eating them?” *Christian Science Monitor


More than 20 million people employed in the fishing industry may need to be retrained for other work over the next 40 years if the final collapse of fish stocks in the world's oceans is to be avoided, the United Nations has warned. The UN's environment branch, UNEP, gave a preview on Monday of its green economy report to be published in October. It said if the world remained on its path of overfishing, fish stocks could become uneconomic to exploit, or extinct, by 2050. Pavan Sukhdev, head of the initiative, said: ''Already 30 per cent of the ocean fisheries have collapsed and are producing less than 10 per cent of their original ability.'' At the heart of the analysis is the $27 billion ($31 billion) in subsidies the UN estimates is being injected into fishing every year, mainly by developing countries.

The UN says the subsidies are huge in terms of the scale of the industry, amounting to almost a third of the $US85 billion worth of fish caught. Among those subsidies, the UN defines $US8 billion as ''good'', in that they encourage sustainable fishing of healthy stocks. Most of the subsidies are ''bad'', it says, meaning they lead to overcapacity and exploitation. About $US3 billion of the subsidies are ''ugly'', leading to the depletion of the fish population. Among the most egregious practices targeted by the report are inducements to boost the size of world trawler fleets that are among the main culprits of overfishing, and generous fuel subsidies for fishing fleets. ''We're paying ourselves to destroy the very resource on which the fishing industry is dependant,'' said UNEP's director, Achim Steiner.

At stake is not just the biodiversity of the oceans, but a substantial chunk of the global economy and the livelihoods that depend on it. The UN estimates there are at least 35 million people directly employed in fishing, which translates to about 120 million including their households, and 500 million - about 8 per cent of the world's population - taking into account indirect businesses such as packaging and freezing. UNEP refused to name the worst overfishing offenders, though it says its final report will contain figures that will enable readers to ''figure out where the problem is''. *Guardian

Farmed Seahorses

A Tasmanian shipment of seahorses bound for Florida has been seized by US customs officials in what the producer has called "government- sanctioned theft".Seahorse Australia owner Craig Hawkins's shipment of 326 seahorses would have earned him $4500 but he will not see his money or his seahorses, after an Australian customs officer apparently neglected to record how many were being shipped. Throughout the past week there have been ongoing representations from Australian Government departments to the US Fish and Wildlife Service to resolve the issue. But on Friday night the load had to be surrendered, giving the US Government the ability to distribute the seahorses as it sees fit.

"The US requires us to have our shipment validated by customs, which we did, but there was a minor error from a customs official. He neglected to record the number of seahorses in the shipment," Mr Hawkins said. "As soon as we found out there was a problem, he then tried to correct it. I understand he was ignored at the US end." It was the Beauty Point producer's third shipment to the aquarium wholesaler in Florida and Mr Hawkins was concerned that he might lose the customer. "This is just one sale at the moment but if we lose the customer it may be a significant loss to us." He had been trying to break into the US market for several years and was told US customs had a reputation for being "unpredictable". "I do really want to thank the Australian department officers though - they have been absolutely fantastic. "The Wildlife Trade and Conservation section, the quarantine and inspection service and all of them," Mr Hawkins said. "I can only say that the US officials were obnoxious and arrogant." *The Examiner


Sydney is undergoing an "epidemic" of possum-napping as increasing numbers of residents illegally trap the troublesome marsupials then dump them in city and suburban parks. But experts say moving the animals to another area is a death sentence for many possums. Native animal rescue service WIRES said moving the animals to places such as the Royal Botanic Gardens causes possum warfare as the new arrivals fight for territory with existing animals. "It's a common belief that by relocating a possum there are no consequences for the animal," said WIRES spokeswoman Jilea Carney. "Unfortunately, it is usually a death sentence for a possum." WIRES staff have been called to rescue 1030 ringtail and 843 brushtail possums this year in NSW. It suspects many of these animals have come from other areas. WIRES said the number of possum rescue calls has risen 10 per cent each year since 2006.

St Ives has the highest number of possum rescues from private properties in the Sydney-Blue Mountains region, followed by Springwood, Avalon, North Ryde, Newport, Roseville, Lane Cove, Wahroonga, Mosman and Mona Vale. Outside the metropolitan area, Coffs Harbour, Katoomba and Alstonville have the highest possum rescues. "WIRES knows of recent and ongoing possum dumpings at Waverton and illegal trappings at Vaucluse for relocation on the north shore but it almost certainly would not be limited to any particular area," Ms Carney said. "WIRES suspects that we are dealing with the victims of possum dumping almost every day."

Trapping native animals without a permit is illegal and people can be prosecuted under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. The Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water said it only issues possum-trapping licences as a last resort and is asking anyone who knows about possum-trapping to notify a NSW Parks and Wildlife office. A department spokesman said the best way to get a possum out of a roof is to build it a small shelter in a nearby tree. "In their natural environment, possums usually live in tree hollows but with the loss of native bushland many of these natural homes have been destroyed," the spokesman said. *SunHerald

We've just heard this possum story from a wildlife carer. "A call came in some minutes ago on our Emergency Line from a very embarrassed father. His little daughter woke him up repeatedly last night crying that there were monsters under her bed - he, half asleep told her to go back to bed she was dreaming. Well, this morning she came out to him while he was having breakfast, took him by the hand and led him into her bedroom and demanded he look under the bed...He did, only to come face to face with a brushtail possum! So from now on he advises, he will believe everything his little daughter tells him!" *

Fraser Island Dingoes

Recently Wildlife Bytes ran the story about Jennifer Parkhurst, the photographer who had her house invaded by DERM thugs early one morning last year. Jennifer now faces a maximum two years' jail or up to a $300,000 fine under the Nature Conservation Act and Recreation Area Management Act, for allegedly interfering with the Fraser Island dingoes. The real reasons for the raid were that, like many others, Jennifer has been highly critical of the Fraser Island dingo mis-management strategies. Anyway, a rally or two are being planned, and Fund has been set up to help Jennifer and the dingoes. People can contribute to the fund at Westpac Bank, Pialba, Hervey Bay. Save Fraser island Dingoes Inc. BSB 034-136 Acct 303196.