Monday, June 14, 2010

Wildlife Bytes 10/6/10

Wildlife MiniBytes


Australia's biggest remote-camera wildlife survey has discovered rare spotted-tail quolls thriving in coastal heathland near the historic Green Cape lighthouse, south of Eden. It's the first time quolls have been sighted on Green Cape peninsula. They were captured on film sniffing a bait station containing peanut butter and rolled oats. The scientists behind the three-year survey, NSW national parks service ecologist Andrew Claridge and Australian Defence Force Academy geographer David Paull, have used 60 infra-red cameras to track wildlife across a 300sqkm area in Ben Boyd National Park. ''The ethical advantage of using cameras is they're non-invasive. We don't need to trap animals to study their behaviour,'' Dr Claridge said. The cameras are moved across a grid of 200 observation sites and used in conjunction with an enclosed bait station adapted from a plumbing vent. It contains truffle oil or an ''Anzac biscuit mix of peanut butter and oats'' that acts as an olfactory lure. The scent entices animals to stop, sniff and sometimes scratch around the base of the station before moving on. *Canberra Times

Tarkine Road Dead

Well it's official...the Forestry Tasmania Tarkine Road is dead! After three years of campaigning, 3700 facebook supporters, packed public meetings, a solid publicity effort and a lot of grassroots community activism we have had a sweet win. Premier David Bartlett has conceded that the loss of his majority in the Tasmanian Parliament means they cannot pass the required legislation to construct the road. This is a win for rainforests, a win for a disease free sanctuary for Tasmanian devils, and a win for the protecting the Tarkine's true tourism's wilderness. But this campaign has delivered more than "the end of the road". On the back of the road debatel we were able to convince the Federal Environment Minister to apply the Emergency National Heritage Listing to 447,000 hectares of the Tarkine, and we have recorded a massive 72% of voters supporting goal of creating a Tarkine National Park (voters in the crucial north west Tasmanian electorate of Braddon that covers the Tarkine). In September we hope to see the Emergency National Heritage Listing made permanent, and with the road defeated we will now be able to dedicate 100% of our campaign effort to the core goal of creating a Tarkine National Park and therefore ending logging in the Tarkine's rainforests and tall eucalypt forests (1600 hectares planned in the Forestry Tasmania current 3-year plan). Together we have achieved so much, and I look forward to working with you all in this next exciting phase in the Tarkine campaign. Thank you to all, Scott Jordan, Campaign Coordinator, Tarkine National Coalition


There are "pyromaniacs" working for the NT Government, a conservation leader said yesterday. Environment Centre co-ordinator Stuart Blanch said some of the people working for Bushfires NT and Parks and Wildlife enjoyed lighting "controlled" fires a little too much. "Some like burning at every time of the year," he said. "There are still pyromaniacs in the Government, although fewer than in the past." Mr Blanch was speaking after smoke from a deliberately lit grassfire caused a string of pile-ups on the Stuart Highway on Wednesday. Motorists said the smoke was so thick that visibility was reduced to a few metres. Mr Blanch said the Environment Centre did not oppose burning off. But he said the shortage of staff and vehicles meant that some of the fires were lit as late as August. Scientists say that burnoffs should be held early in the dry season to avoid the build-up of fuel loads. Mr Blanch said the late burnoffs often led to "massive" wildfires towards the end of the year. Bushfires NT head Steve Sutton dismissed the pyromaniac claim as "emotional". He said controlled burning was necessary to maintain biodiversity and prevent late season wildfires. Mr Sutton said there were flashing lights and warning signs on the Stuart Highway on Wednesday, but motorists failed to slow down. "Some of those injured were known to volunteers conducting the burnoff," he said. "So it is not a simple matter of saying the drivers are stupid." A CSIRO study concluded in 2007 that the burning was too intense. It said that savannah woodland should be fired only every three to five years. *NT News


Peru's Government has approved the import of kangaroo meat from Australia. A notice published in a registry of new government rules and laws gave notice today that the federal health officials have "authorised the import of meat from kangaroos born and raised in Australia". Only kangaroo meat raised for the express purpose of being used for human consumption will be allowed for import. Excluded are kangaroos killed as part of an eradication program or which died as a result of disease. Also off limits are animals coming from quarantined areas of Australia. Kangaroo is a red meat very similar in appearance to tenderloin that might come from ox. It is seen as a low-fat alternative to beef. Despite being Australia's national symbol, millions of kangaroos are slaughtered in the wild each year to control their numbers and much of that meat is used for pet food. The idea of farming them for human consumption is controversial, but many health-conscious Australians already eat kangaroo meat. *HeraldSunBelow are email addys to write to, please be polite, and focus on the health issues of eating kangaroo meat, and inhumane treatment of joeys.

Ambassador of Peru Mr. Claudio de la puente Embassy,

A trial of new wildlife road signs showing a car hitting a kangaroo is part of a bold push to raise Whittlesea motorists' awareness of wildlife in the suburbs. Local wildlife rescuers are calling on residents and motorists to observe the new signs and drive accordingly to protect kangaroos and other wildlife . The new signs have been installed on Findon Rd, Bridge Inn Rd, The Lakes Blvd and Donnybrook Rd. Whittlesea wildlife rescuer Fiona Rowley said the design change was aimed at altering people's perceptions of the present warning signs. She said increasing awareness was important to reduce the amount of injured wildlife in Whittlesea. ``From feedback we have got, I have found that the normal yellow signs don't mean much to motorists,'' she said. ``These new signs will be trialled and are aimed at increasing awareness because there are so many people moving here from other places that don't realise there are kangaroos.'' Ms Rowley said residents and motorists were encouraged to provide feedback about the signs. ``If this trial is effective and works well in putting the message out to drivers, we can possibly use it in other areas across Victoria,'' she said. Council sustainability planning manager Jon Rawlings said the council supported the trial. ``Council has developed a new diamond shaped advisory sign for road users and 22 of these have been put up as a trial in Mernda, Wollert and South Morang,'' he said. ``With at least six volunteer wildlife groups existing, council sought the advice of DSE and VicRoads and on their advice will in future display the words `Injured Wildlife Assistance' and also the phone number 1300 094 535.'' *Whittlesea Post

Roo activists raised funds, more than 200 animal activists raised $6850 for the Australian Society for Kangaroos on May 23 when they attended a forum at Revesby Workers' Club in Sydney, NSW. People discussed the inhumane slaughter of the marsupials. The funds will go towards freedom of information requests from the government, legal costs, flyers, stickers, business cards and future campaign costs. *Bankstown Express


An Aboriginal spokesman is calling for Indigenous people to have greater input into how dugong hunting is managed in far north Queensland. Five dugongs have been found dead in nets off the far north Queensland coast over the past two months, including two found off Yarrabah, south of Cairns, last week. Animal activists are calling for a moratorium on dugong hunting. But Kuku Yalanji people's spokesman at Mossman, Linc Walker, says hunting is an important part of Aboriginal culture. "It's not an activity that is to be taken lightly. It's a pretty dangerous activity," he said. "People don't just go out there for fun - it's not a fun activity - you can get seriously injured hunting. You actually have to put up with a lot of emotional scarring as well as the physical scarring that could happen to you." Mr Walker says people at Mossman say Indigenous people have a right to hunt dugongs and should be given more of a say on how the practice is managed. "They have the right to hunt in their country, other people don't," he said. "So when it comes down to it, those people have to be empowered to manage the resources from their country and then the problems with the over-hunting and the people hunting in other places should cease." *ABC See below, Garrett rules out a "moratorium" on dugong hunting.

Oil Spill

Australian Seabird Rescue is seeking sponsorship to get teams over to the US to help rescue marine life affected by the oil spill. All donations over $2 to the 'Lance Ferris Memorial Fund' are tax deductible. PLEASE HELP!! Donations can be made at the ASR website at - Or cheque's can be posted to - Australian Seabird Rescue Inc., WildlifeLink Sanctuary, 264 North Creek Road, Ballina NSW 2478 *Network Item

Cane toads

A group dedicated to wiping out cane toads in the Kimberley has been awarded a national United Nations World Environment Day award. Kimberley Toad Busters won the community category for their efforts to eradicate the pest using more than 5000 dedicated volunteers who have clocked up more than a million hours. Winners were announced at a gala dinner in Melbourne tonight. KTB administration co-ordinator John Cugley said it was an amazing win which was all down to the efforts of the volunteers "We never thought we'd win something like this … we had very humble beginnings," he said. "Five years ago, we started with a busload of people travelling out to Victoria River roadhouse, 300km into the Northern Territory - that was our first toad bust." Since then, the group has hand-collected and euthanised more than half a million of the cane toads before inspecting their stomach contents and parasites for research. With the cane toads just beginning their long march into the Kimberley, Mr Cugley said the group would not be giving up any time soon. "The fight has only just started … if everybody was a toad buster, all the toads would be busted." *WA News


Crews aboard Japanese whaling ships are stealing and selling whale meat from the scientific expeditions, two whistleblowers allege. The Federal Government last week lodged a formal application with the International Court of Justice to challenge Japanese whaling in Antarctic waters. Japan argues its "research whaling" is permitted under the rules of an international moratorium on commercial whaling. However, the ABC's Foreign Correspondent program - to be aired today - has spoken to two Japanese crewmen who claim whale meat gathered on the trips is being sold onto restaurants, or kept for personal consumption. One, who calls himself the Japanese equivalent of Mr Whale, is a former crewman on Japan's whaling fleet flagship the Nisshin Maru. "First, when the ship returns to Japan and arrives in the port, a transport truck is waiting," he said through a translator. "The crewman will then pack the whale meat they stole into a cardboard box. "One person carried off 500 to 600kg." Another whistleblower, who has more than 30 years experience on Japanese whaling ships, said he too had seen evidence of meat harvesting. "It happened on the container on the bridge, I had to check the temperature everyday and when I went in there, there was a staff member from the Institute of Cetacean Research packing something," he said, also through a translator. "So I yelled, 'What are you doing?' "He then tried to hide the package by spreading his arms out - it was red meat from the tail. "That is the highest quality whale meat." The Institute of Cetacean Research conducts Japan's whale hunts. *PerthNow

Shooting in NSW NP's

Both the NSW governent and the NSW Opposition have rejected the Shooters Party Bill to allow hunting in NSW National Parks. Of course the Shooters Party will now block Labor's Legislation attempts, as they have always threatened to do. NSW Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell also says he is not about to turn national parks into game reserves after the Shooters Party put forward legislation to hunt in the state's national parks and reserves. Mr O'Farrell said he has not yet seen the Game and Feral Animal Control Amendment Bill, which is currently before NSW Parliament. 'I read in today's paper (the Shooters Party) are going to come and have a chat with us,' he told reporters in Sydney on Sunday. 'I'm happy to look at the legislation, but we're not in the business of turning national parks into game reserves.' Earlier on Sunday, Rural Affairs Minister Steve Whan challenged Mr O'Farrell to clarify his policies on the issue. Premier Kristina Keneally has said she will not support the legislation. 'It is time for Barry O'Farrell to break his silence on hunting in national parks,' Mr Whan said in a statement on Sunday. *Network Item

Steves Place

This week the Queensland government vetoed any mining in the vicinity of the Wenlock River, which is now protected under the Wild Rivers Legislation. The 135,000 hectares of the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve stretches across the remote Cape York landscape in a mosaic of tropical savannah woodlands, rainforests, rivers, creeks and wetlands like a big, irregular patchwork quilt. Thirty five different Ecosystem types have been confirmed to occur on the Reserve to date. This represents outstanding biodiversity. They are all crucial parts of the bigger “jigsaw puzzle” across the Wenlock and Ducie River catchments and provide critical habitat and corridors for a wide range of dependant wildlife and plants. The Reserve, which is a tribute to Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, is home to a set of eight unique spring fed wetlands which provide a critical water source to threatened habitat, provide permanent flow of water to the Wenlock River, and is home to rare and vulnerable plants and wildlife. Australia Zoo invite everyone to sign the petition on and encourage us all to spread the word. This website is also a great source of information so that you can stay up to date with the fight to Save Steve’s Place. *Australia Zoo

Wild Pigs

Marksmen in helicopters will hover over Kakadu National Park today, shooting pigs as part of a feral animal control program. There are an estimated 11,000 feral pigs in Kakadu, as well as buffalo, donkeys and cats. Aerial shooting is being done this week in areas that people do not usually visit. The natural and cultural programs manager at Kakadu, Steve Winderlich, says feral pigs are like bulldozers. "One pig can turn over quite a large area as if it was being done by a plough on a farm," he said. "They are targeting food species that native animals eat. "One classic is the bulb which is a bulb under the ground which is a prime food for the magpie geese." Mr Winderlich says the control program will not focus on cane toads. "Experts tell us that they're just so big a problem that any resources you really pour into controlling cane toads is sort of wasted money because you're just not going to have an impact, apart from perhaps some localised areas." *ABC

Marine Parks

Fishing will be banned from even more sections of ocean off the NSW coast under federal government plans for a series of massive new marine parks. The six marine parks in Commonwealth waters, which start three nautical miles offshore, will extend beyond the state government's string of marine parks in NSW-controlled inshore waters. Maps of areas that will become Commonwealth marine parks reveal thousands of square kilometres of ocean in the Tweed and Clarence regions on the North Coast, the Hunter area and around Bateman's Bay on the South Coast. Two Commonwealth marine parks are also planned around Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands. The Federal Government is holding informal meetings along the coast with commercial and recreational fishers and other "stakeholders" on the parks. The areas in the marine parks where fishing will be totally banned, along with other restrictions, have not yet been decided. But anglers already fear their concerns about the impact of the Commonwealth marine parks on recreational fishing and the parks' economic impact on recreational fishing, and the fishing, boating and tourism industries are not being taken seriously. * Daily Telegraph


Just days after a swimmer was photographed swimming in croc infested water in a Northern Territory river, another swimmer was just one metre away from becoming croc food while swimming at Darwin's most popular beach yesterday. A Health Department worker testing the water for bacteria spotted the croc as it was about to attack the woman at Mindil Beach. The observer told the Northern Territory News she was at the beach with a colleague from the Department of Health's environmental health unit for a routine testing of the water quality, when a tourist pointed out a crocodile near the water's edge. She said the croc was at least 3 metres long, and it cruised down the beach, heading for another woman who was swimming. Yelling at the woman to get out of the wwater, the swimmer finally got out when the croc was only a metre away from her. Why do people go swimming in creeks, rivers, and beaches in the Northern Territory? They also currently have serious bacterial contamination and high E.coli levels at Darwin's beaches. If this swimmer had been taken, many more crocs would be captured and killed. Surely its time for people to take some responsability for their stupidity? * WPAA

Wild Camels

The Katherine abattoir is expected to reopen in the next couple of months, nine years after its doors last closed. The plant has been sold to the Darwin Investment Group. The abattoir's chief executive, John Hughes, says it will focus on feral animals and hopes to employ up to 200 people. "What we're basically looking at doing is trying to do something with the camels in Central Australia, buffalo, maybe horses and donkeys but predominantly it will primarily be feral animals. "They're our plans at this stage because as you know most cattle are going out through live export." Katherine Mayor Anne Shepherd says it is a boost for the town's economy. "It is very good news," she said. "I think accommodation will be a problem, so that's something that will have to be provided there to accommodate extra people. "I hope a portion of the 200 will be local people from Katherine. "But yes, it is, it's very good news for Katherine and I think we can all look very forward to a good future." The Buffalo Council's Michael Swart says it means the Territory will be able to supply overseas markets. "In the past we used to slaughter around 30,000 to 40,000 a year amongst the three or four meatworks that were operational in the Top End," he said. "There's no reason why there couldn't be 10,000-plus go through a meatworks on an annual basis." *ABC


Save the Fraser Island Dingo Petion is here.


Eight rare monkeys, including one pregnant female, have been stolen from Symbio Wildlife Park at Helensburgh. There are grave fears for the safety of the monkeys after thieves used the cover of darkness and wet, windy weather to steal them from their purpose-built home on Sunday night. Devastated management and staff believe the thieves knew exactly what they were after when they broke into the new exhibit. The Radnidge family was distraught yesterday when zookeeper Kylie Elliot discovered the four pygmy marmoset monkeys and four endangered cotton-top tamarins missing at 8.20am. John Radnidge said three locks were broken. "Clearly these people knew what they were doing," he said. "They just cut through a power cable so there was no light. The only light in their exhibit was the heat lamp. "We are all pretty bloody devastated. We offer the public the chance to see the world's most endangered wildlife here in their own backyard and to have someone steal two vital species is just gut-wrenching.

"I don't know where to go from here. To have them snatched from our care is devastating. We feel a sense of responsibility with all our animals." Mr Radnidge said the small monkeys would have been very difficult to catch in the dark. "These animals don't just sit there, they will scatter. They would have had to chase them around to catch them." Mr Radnidge fears the thieves may be involved in a smuggling racket involving exotic animals. He said Mogo Zoo was targeted in 2004 when one cotton-top tamarin was taken. They were an extremely rare species, with only 400 left in the wild. It was hard to put a value on what the pygmy marmosets and cotton-top tamarins were worth because they could not be replaced. * Network Item

The seven rare monkeys stolen from Symbio Wildlife Park have been found and returned to their owners. Thieves stole four pygmy marmosets and four cotton top tamarins after breaking into the zoo, in Helensburgh, south of Sydney, late on May 29 or early on May 30. There were fears the animals were being smuggled overseas. But detectives identified a blue Honda Civic they believed was used to transport the monkeys and seized it from a home in Parramatta on June 1. On the same day police also went to homes in Baulkham Hills, Castle Hill and Mulgrave and as a result of information received managed to find three of the tamarins dumped in a cage in parkland at Auburn. The search for the last tamarin is continuing. The four marmosets were found on June 2 after the thieves left them with an Auburn vet. The monkeys have been taken back to the wildlife park. Police say no arrests have been made but investigations are continuing. * Sydney Morning Herald

Wildlife Plan Defeated

A plan by a Macedon Ranges councillor to address the overpopulation of native animals in the shire has fallen on deaf ears. East Ward councillor Joe Morabito said he had received numerous reports of an increase in the kangaroo and wombat population in the ranges. He believed that clarification was needed from State Government environmental staff as to what strategies existed to control the situation. Cr Morabito also believed there was an outbreak of mange among the wombat population, a condition similar to scabies in humans. But his call for a multi-agency meeting was defeated at last week’s council meeting after he rejected rewording of his original motion. “If councillors don’t go with this motion we’d be letting these animals suffer and it will be on your heads,” he said. Macedon Ranges Wildlife Network members attended the meeting.

Spokeswoman Fiona Corke said grants given to volunteer wildlife carers after the Black Saturday fires indirectly acknowledged the scale of wildlife management issues in the state. “If wombats have really bad mange Wildlife Victoria staff can assess whether they need to be put down. But the first step is for people who observe a sick animal to call a wildlife carer,” Ms Corke said. She said there was no figures to support Cr Morabito’s claim of overpopulation of native animals. Ms Corke warned any move towards a shirewide cull would be met by overwhelming opposition. Residents should report injured wildlife on 1300 094 535. *Macedon Leader


The culling of kangaroos at Preston Beach golf course has raised questions about how other golf clubs in the Peel region respond to kangaroos on their courses. Mandurah Coastal Times has found that other golf courses in the Peel region are happy to share their space with our national symbol and have chosen to relocate rather than cull excess kangaroos. Up to 200 roos frequent the unfenced Meadow Springs Golf and Country Club course and the numbers are expected to increase as bushland makes way for a new primary school and increased housing in the area. A spokesman for developer Mirvac Fini said it had moved about 190 roos from the Meadow Springs area to national park reserves in the South-West in the past three years. Mandurah Country Club has about 50 kangaroos that live on its course and manager Sandra Lockhart said they came and went as they pleased.

“The only time we have a problem is when they’re mating,” she said. “They’re very relaxed and our members are used to them being in here. They often bring their overseas visitors to come and visit them.” Ms Lockhart said many members patrolled the club’s boundaries to ensure the roos did not stray on to nearby roads. “Some of our members have a gate key and they herd them back in,” she said. Managers at Pinjarra and Secret Harbour golf clubs supported that view, while a spokesman from The Cut golf course in Dawesville declined to comment. Pinjarra golf course manager Jayne Colgan said that while kangaroos were not a problem on the course, she was in favour of relocating kangaroos as opposed to culling them. Secret Harbour golf course manager Ross Hunt said the club had one resident kangaroo. He doesn’t upset anybody,” he said. “He’s quite happy. But if we did have a problem, we would ring the rangers.” *InMyCommunity

Russia's trade commissioner to Australia will hop out to western Queensland next week to learn more about the kangaroo meat industry. Russia took two-thirds of Australia's kangaroo meat production until a contamination scare shut down the trade 12 moths ago. Rural lobby Agforce is keen to show new Russian Trade Commissioner to Australia, Yuri Aleshin, how the industry has cleaned up its act. "Following Russia's withdrawal as the major market for kangaroo meat, AgForce joined the Australia-Russia Business Council to represent our farming members and identify market opportunities as the kangaroo industry develops," AgForce sheep and wool president Brent Finlay said. "We want kangaroos back on the appetite of the Russians," he said. "The industry has had a very significant look at itself, look at the production system."

Mr Finlay said he met the Russian ambassador in October and explained the importance of the kangaroo meat industry, not only through harvesting the kangaroos, but also in providing employment. The industry has introduced new training regimes, a new traceability regime and other measures to win back the Russians' confidence. Mr Finlay said a bumper season throughout western Queensland means numbers of the boomers are booming. "We've got a fantastic season out there which is wonderful for people, but again the concern is we're going to have massive numbers of kangaroos again," he said. The population boom means `roos will compete with sheep and cattle for the available feed. Mr Finlay said the kangaroo meat industry is important to rural and regional communities. "There's so many young blokes out there that shoot kangaroos. It's a way of keeping them in the bush rather than them all running off to the mines. "It is a significant part of the fabric of the bush." Mr Aleshin will also learn about Queensland's beef, lamb and goat industries. "Prior to the global financial crisis Russia was also Australia's fourth largest market for red meat, and AgForce is playing a key role in reinvigorating trade opportunities for our beef, lamb and goat producers," Mr Finlay said. *AAP

A spate of car accidents involving kangaroos has prompted a Hervey Bay mechanic to warn motorists of the dangers the animals can pose to drivers using Fraser Coast roads. Scott Davies from Pialba Smash Repairs said every yea, about this time, the number of road accidents involving kangaroos increased. “At this time of year we often see a spate of them,” he said. “The days are getting shorter. “Kangaroos move with the sunlight and at the moment they are crossing the road when the most traffic is moving.” Mr Davies said several accidents involving kangaroos had been reported each day over the past week – including one incident in which a person ran into a mob of kangaroos crossing the road. Hervey Bay’s Brent Aiken hit a kangaroo in his vehicle on Monday, causing more than $2000 worth of damage to his car.Mr Aiken was returning to Hervey Bay on Maggs Hill Road after taking a few items to the tip at Nikenbah at 3pm when the incident happened.

Mr Aiken saw the kangaroo as he was approaching it and slowed, but it appeared to jump off into some scrub. “I thought it was gone,” he said. He increased speed until he was doing about 60kmh and then realised the kangaroo had not left after all – it jumped directly out on to the road. Mr Aiken tried to stop and managed to slow the car to about 40kmh before he hit the roo – but it was still like hitting a brick wall, he said. The kangaroo didn’t seem to be badly injured – it hopped away – but Mr Aiken was left lamenting the damage to his car. “I just hope this helps others avoid being in a similar accident,” he said. *Fraser Coast Chronicle

No Moratorium for Dugongs.

Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett will not support a moratorium on killing dugongs, believing better policing and education will stop the gentle animals being hunted to extinction. Mr Garrett was in Cairns today to commit $15 million to measure water quality improvements made through a federal program that supports farmers to cut the amount of nutrients that leave their farms and flow into the Great Barrier Reef. Calls for a crackdown on illegal dugong netting in far north Queensland have been growing since the bodies of three of the endangered creatures were discovered near Cairns in April. Only one could be saved. Former federal Liberal MP Warren Entsch, who is contesting the next election, believes indigenous people have taken advantage of laws that allow them to hunt dugong and have set up a lucrative dugong meat industry. Traditional owners can hunt the animals using traditional means, but netting is banned. Conservationist Bob Irwin, father of the late "crocodile hunter" Steve Irwin, is calling for a moratorium.

But Mr Garrett said it was unnecessary at this point. Compliance officers and training programs to ensure dugongs were hunted in sustainable numbers would take time to have an effect, he said. "I am confident that if we put those measures in place and see them through then it's an issue that can be properly addressed without a moratorium," Mr Garrett told reporters. Traditional land owners would welcome the support, Mr Garrett said. "We recognise that some indigenous people have specific rights, they are cultural rights, they are not commercial rights," he said. "It is just a question of making sure that everybody understands what their rights and responsibilities are and make sure that they put them into practice." * Brisbane Times


Australia's saltwater crocodiles love to surf. Not on a board, of course, but University of Queensland researchers have found crocs ride tidal and ocean currents to cover long distances. Dr Hamish Campbell from UQ's School of Biological Sciences said yesterday that a study of 27 adult crocodiles in the Kennedy River in north Queensland found both male and females regularly undertook journeys of more than 70km from their riverbank homes to the mouth of the river and beyond. "Not all the crocodiles, but about eight males and females, undertook these journeys, travelling down the river and heading out to sea," Dr Campbell said. "They were away anything up to three months, then they'd come back," he said. "Each croc did this maybe two to three times a year, but it wasn't synchronised. The only thing that was, was their use of the tides." The crocodiles were fitted with sonar transmitters and their movements were tracked with underwater receivers.

Dr Campbell said the data showed the crocs always began their long-distance travel within an hour of the tide changing, allowing them to "go with the flow". If they couldn't complete their journey in one tidal cycle, they'd go ashore and wait for the tide to turn. Dr Campbell said the researchers had been unable to monitor the crocs once they were out at sea. But their use of the tides explained the long-distance migration of estuarine crocodiles, with one tracked over 411km in 20 days from the east coast of Cape York, through the Torres Strait to the Wenlock River on the west coast of the Cape. "This study provides an explanation of how that's possible," he said. Dr Campbell said when the croc had arrived at the Strait, the currents were against it, so it had waited in a sheltered bay for four days until the currents were favourable. It also explained the existence of breeding populations on islands spread across about 10,000sq km of the Indian and South Pacific oceans. *Courier Mail

New National Park

A new national park will be established on North Stradbroke Island as existing sand mining leases are cut back, can reveal. Sand mining has been a feature of North Stradbroke Island for the past 60 years, impacting about 15 per cent of the island. The major sand mining company on North Stradbroke Island, American firm Unimin, operates mines as Consolidated Rutile Limited and employs about 135 people. Last year, Unimin was charged by the state government with illegal sand mining, claiming it was selling the island's sand to landscaping and landfill industries. Apparently native title issues on North Stradbroke Island are almost resolved, which would likely mean significant changes to sand mining leases on the island. Indigenous Australians have been on North Stradbroke Island for 20,000 years.

Acting Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Anastacia Palaszczuk said protecting more of Stradbroke Island as national park was an ambition of the government. “There's been a lot work done behind the scenes, including close talks with key stakeholders, especially the Quandamooka People," she said last night. “It's important that any change in tenure is done in close consultation with the Quandamooka People, recognising their traditional ownership of the island. “And we've also been consulting with other key stakeholders including Unimin about a transition. “These discussions are ongoing.” Wildlife Preservation Society president Simon Balthais said he understood a decision would be made "very soon". "We believe a national park of some sort is going to be announced," Mr Balthais said. It was unclear whether the announcement would be part of today's State Budget or made later in the week.

Other green groups expected an announcement on World Environment Day on Sunday. Mr Balthais said the announcement would be a positive step, as long as it did not give mining companies the ability to hand back land they had already mined in return for land that had yet to be touched. "If the miners are just going hand over land that they have already mined and have done some rehabilitation, that will be a shade on the potential tourism and environmental values that you can get out of the land that really needs to be saved," he said. "There is land that the miners want to mine which hasn't been touched before that is extremely valuable from a jobs perspective, economics and environment and that is the area that needs to be saved." Mr Balthais said that critical land was part of Unimin's Enterprise Mine, at the southern end of North Stradbroke Island.

Mr Balthais said Tangalooma on Moreton Island - an island without sand mining - was an example of how regional tourism added economic value. "This is where you can see one operator with the capability of employing over 250 people and generating over $26 million a year," he said. A South East Queensland Catchments Report published in April showed that even a five per cent slowing in regional tourism because of degraded environmental conditions in south-east Queensland could reduce nature-based tourism turnover by $2 billion in the next 20 years. *

Ed Comment; We are not complaining, but funny how these new NP gazetals occur when an election is imminent, or the government is in meltdown......

Tuna Fishing

A Greenpeace activist is recovering in hospital in Malta after surgery for an injury caused by a grappling hook slung by tuna fishermen in a clash at sea. Frank Hewetson, 45, was trying to free endangered bluefin tuna from a commercial fishing net in the Mediterranean on Friday when the fishermen threw the hook at the Greenpeace dinghy he was in and it pierced his left leg, he said. "I managed to pull the hook out myself," said Hewetson, who was admitted to St James Capua Hospital in Sliema, Malta, late on Friday. "It was very painful." The hook "got between the bone and the muscle", the London resident said on Saturday, adding that doctors said he would have to remain in hospital at least another three days. They fear an infection because the grappling hook was rusty and was used to extract tuna from nets, Heweton said. The environmental group said on Friday that Hewetson and other Greenpeace activists were trying to lower the side of a purse seine net with sand bags to free the fish in a "non-violent" intervention when the clash occurred. Hewetson said the fishermen used the grappling hook to pull his boat close to theirs, then "began beating us with sticks", without causing any serious new injuries.

The fishing boat, the Jean-Marie Christian VI, was one of several French tuna vessels in the area, in international waters off Malta, Greenpeace said in a statement. Several boats surrounded the Greenpeace zodiacs, threatening them with knives attached to long poles, and some of the fishermen also fired flare guns at a Greenpeace helicopter hovering overhead to monitor, the statement said. Greenpeace had stationed two ships in the Mediterranean, the Rainbow Warrior and Arctic Sunrise, to confront fishing boats during the short tuna-catching season. Bertrand Wendling, head of Sathoan, a cooperative of French tuna fishing boats including the one whose nets were targeted by Greenpeace, accused the group of interfering with a legal business activity and jeopardising the livelihoods of ordinary fishermen. Industrial-scale fishing and harvesting on the high seas has caused stocks of bluefin tuna to plunge by up to 80 per cent in the Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic, where they come to spawn in the warmer waters.

Many of the 100 boats that fish in the Mediterranean carry net cages to contain the tuna, which are then towed offshore to be fattened and shipped in giant freezer ships to Japan, where they are a mainstay of sushi and sashimi. Earlier this year the European Union and the United States supported an international trade ban on tuna fished from these waters, but Japan lobbied successfully and the proposal was defeated. France's national fisheries body backed the fishermen on Saturday, saying they "were attacked by helmeted Greenpeace activists, equipped for and engaged in a violent operation - the destruction of a work tool". "After trying to get the species classified as endangered, based on an erroneous reading of the scientific facts regarding the stock of bluefin tuna, now (Greenpeace) assumes the right to attack fishermen out at sea," it added.

Jean-Marie Avallone, owner of the boat involved, accused Greenpeace of acting like "brigands". As Greenpeace posted a video of the incident on the Internet, Wendling said on Saturday that fishermen fear further action by environmentalist groups competing for publicity and donations. The US-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, one of whose militants is on trial in Japan after boarding a Japanese whaler, has vowed to take action against what it says is massive poaching of tuna above the agreed quotas. Greenpeace lawyer Alexandre Faro said he will be lodging a complaint for alleged wounding and assault with Paris prosecutors on Monday. A French fisheries ministry spokesman said the government deplored the clashes, calling for fishing to be allowed to continue in what he said was a strictly regulated legal framework. *NineNews


As if the latest reports of Burmese pythons, monitor lizards and Cuban tree frogs crawling around Florida were not enough, a disruptive new invader has arrived. It's an exotic lizard called a tegu, a 4-foot-long reptile from Argentina with sharp claws and a voracious appetite for meat that could possibly upset the ecological applecart. One was spotted last week in the Ocala National Forest, a place teeming with campers, swimmers and hikers. Forest officials said the black-and-white lizard was probably dropped off in the forest by an overwhelmed pet owner. "We're taking this very seriously," said Carrie Sekerak, a forest-wildlife biologist. "A tegu is known to go inside gopher-tortoise burrows and dig out mice and tortoise eggs.... It can tip the balance suddenly." Common in South America, tegus are one of the most abundant lizards in southern Brazil. The leather-skinned creatures have been harvested for their skins and meat in Paraguay and Argentina. They also have been used to control rat populations.

Tegus are omnivorous and have a taste for native plants and small rodents, which are food for Florida snakes and raptors. "So they are taking away a food source for those animals," Sekerak said. In recent years, tegus have become popular with exotic-pet aficionados in the United States because of their usually docile nature. It's not unusual for tegu owners to let their pets run free inside their homes, said Kevin Enge, a herpetologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "A lot of people watch television with them sitting on their laps," Enge said. The animals can bite, however, and will whip their tails if cornered. Similar to other voracious exotic pets, tegus are now being released into the wild by pet owners who can no longer handle or feed them. And that's likely how the tegu ended up in the Ocala forest. It was found by a group of state wildlife workers last month in a remote area more than three miles from the nearest home.

"It's probably an animal that got too big, and somebody got tired of it, and they dumped it, figuring it was a big, beautiful area," said Steve Johnson, an assistant professor of wildlife ecology at the University of Florida, who puts together Invader Updater, an online newsletter about nonnative invasive fauna. "And it's a scary thing because tegus are very opportunistic feeders, and it will compete with the native species." Not knowing what it was, one of the forest workers snapped a photo of the tegu and e-mailed it to Sekerak. "I said: 'Oh, my gosh, that's a tegu!' " she said. Sekerak told the workers to kill it, but the tegu was too quick and ran off. In 2006, state biologists found the first tegu in the wild in Florida. In the past few years, tegu breeding populations have been discovered in Miami-Dade County, the Everglades and western Polk County. So far, the Ocala forest tegu is the first recorded sighting in Central Florida. Biologists fear there may be more.

Tegus' penchant for eggs of the gopher-tortoise — a native Florida animal that already faces a number of dangers, including construction bulldozers — is particularly worrisome, Johnson said. "It's another insult on top of another insult" for the gopher tortoise, Johnson said. "It's like removing a nut and a bolt from an engine. Maybe nothing would happen, but if you keep removing more nuts and bolts, eventually your car won't run." Unlike many exotic animals, tegus can survive cold winters because they dig burrows and hibernate. "It's hard to say how many there are, but we're going to keep our eyes open," Enge said. "If we see others, then it may be time to start an eradication." Tegus join a long list of nonnative wildlife that have emerged in Florida, including armadillos, feral pigs, Burmese pythons, Cuban tree frogs, walking catfish, rainbow skinks and rhesus monkeys. Sekerak often visits reptile and pet shows to check out the latest exotic animals people are buying, because those animals eventually could end up in the wild. "Florida is being hit by so many invasive species that it seems there's no way evolution will be able to keep up," she said. *LA Times


The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has cut its links with anti-whaling activist Peter Bethune after revealing that he carried a bow and arrows during confrontations with Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean. The New Zealand-born activist and former Ady Gil skipper is currently on trial in Tokyo after being arrested when he forced his way on board a whaling vessel in Antarctic waters in February. The Ady Gil had earlier been sunk after a collision with a Japanese whaling ship. In a statement on the society's website, Sea Shepherd deputy chief executive Chuck Swift said Bethune's decision to bring a bow and arrows on a Sea Shepherd campaign was unacceptable. "Even though we know Captain Bethune's objectives were sincere, that the bow and arrows were never used in Sea Shepherd actions and that he certainly never intended to use the bow and arrows against any person, his decision to bring them on a Sea Shepherd campaign is unacceptable," the statement reads.

"Therefore, although Sea Shepherd will continue to support Captain Bethune through his legal battle in Japan, Sea Shepherd will not select him to participate in future campaigns. "Captain Bethune is an amazing and brave conservationist, he is a hero for the whales, but unfortunately he will no longer be formally associated with, or be a representative of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, because his methods are not in complete alignment with the organisations [sic]." The 45-year-old has faced a Japanese court accused of throwing a bottle of butyric acid at a Japanese whaler. Bethune told the court that when he threw the acid at the ship, he was not aiming toward any crew members. He said the butyric acid, also known as a rancid butter bomb, has the same acid levels as orange juice. He told the court it is harmless and he did not think it could hurt anyone. *ABC