Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wildlife Bytes 6/10/10

Lead Stories

As governments and the agricultural sector in four states gear up for what promises to be a massive locust-spraying campaign, one farmer in rural Victoria is leading a campaign against the program. Eris O'Brien, who runs sheep at Mitiamo near Bendigo, has even gone so far as to set up a save-the-locust website. He says spraying may worsen the locust plagues, because it will kill parasites which naturally control the insects. He has also raised concerns about the impact on native carnivores which will gorge themselves on the plentiful protein as they too recover from drought. His views aren't making him very popular in his district, where he is copping quite a bit of flack from his neighbours. The mass-spraying campaign - due to get underway along the length of inland south-eastern Australia - is one of the biggest ever conducted in this country. Although spraying has already begun in western Queensland and parts of New South Wales, Victoria - where locusts are hatching slightly later - is holding off until authorities are sure all of the hoppers have emerged from the ground.

Regional incident manager Bruce Taberner says environmental safeguards are in place for the campaign. "The buffer zones that we apply will ensure that we have adequate distance between any sensitive areas such as waterways, beehive sites, some of those sort of areas that are sensitive," he said. "We will be very conscious of those areas and certainly adhering to all [the pesticide] manufacturer's requirements and label requirements." While many farmers say the spraying campaign may be starting too late, environmentalists have been lining up to voice concerns. And Mr O'Brien is joining them. "Before pesticides were invented, there were farmers in the Wimmera [region in western Victoria], who effectively controlled locusts by mechanical control, using hoes running over the bands. When the locusts are in a band, there's no reason that you can't squash them as well as you can spray them," he said.

"Throughout history, if you look into the history of it, a lot of the plagues in the past have actually been ended through natural parasites. Now the spraying of the reserved land will kill the natural parasites, so in effect they could actually make the plague go on for longer." Mr O'Brien says native wildlife will be inadvertently affected by the spraying. "The other point is that Australian marsupials - they're found to actually be 10 times more susceptible than the rodents that they tested these pesticides on," he said. "I mean there'd be farms around where there isn't a big risk to wildlife, and the farmers will choose to use sprays and it won't be a big issue, but this focus on spraying roadsides and spraying reserves, and spraying native vegetation on farms with pesticides will have a big impact." *ABC

Wildlife Tourism

Australia's tourism industry has been warned its reputation is at risk unless it becomes more sustainable. As well as painting itself a deeper shade of green, it also has to adopt a higher ethical standard and be more responsible, according to Ecotourism Australia CEO, Kym Cheatham. Ms Cheatham says the industry has to do more, to protect its brand and reputation. "Australia relies heavily on its natural environment, the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, kangaroos, sunshine and wide open spaces but we run the risk of failing to deliver on the promises we are making to our international markets," she said. The comments come ahead of the Global Eco Asia Pacific Tourism Conference in Noosa from October 25-28, where Ms Cheatham said adapting to climate change will be high on the agenda. The UN World Tourism Organisation has identified climate change as one of the five major threats facing the tourism industry, and Ms Cheatham has urged the Australian industry and government to get serious about protecting and promoting the importance of the environment, for a truly sustainable future.

"The industry is under enormous strain at the moment, with a range of factors including the high Australian dollar pushing many operators to the limit," she said. "We are going to see a considerable percentage of businesses buckle, just at the time demand for ecotourism and nature-based experiences is flourishing. "Our product is not cheap, so it needs to be of the highest quality with the most credible ecotourism credentials; we cannot afford to compromise." Ecotourism experiences are growing in Australia at about 20 per cent a year and Ecotourism Australia says the number of ECO certified products has doubled in the past three years. Ms Cheatham said the tourism industry must find ways to protect the natural asset the tourism experience is built on, and provide travellers with guilt-free experiences. *AAP


Last week the UN admitted that the 2010 deadline for reducing the rate of biodiversity loss has been missed....completely. The Marine Reserves proposals around the World that everyone hoped would reverse the dramatic decline of marine species lost from Industrial overfishing have been put on hold, and were generally opposed by recreational fishers anyway. In Australia, kangaroos, dingoes, water fowl, birds around airports and orchids, are killed just to facilitate human activity. Forests and open grassland, habitat for many species including koalas, gliders, and wombats, is cleared, grazed, burnt and otherwise rendered unfit for wildlife. Wetlands are drained for cattle production.

Tonnes of poisonous insecticide is aerial sprayed over the country to combat locust plagues. Our rivers are dammed and diverted for irrigation, to feed growing numbers of humans, never mind what species are displaced. Next month the world's governments will meet in Japan to discuss the catastrophic decline of wild life on the planet. The outcome is expected to be as sad and as impotent as last year's climate talks in Copenhagen. As the UK Guardian states "Unless something changes, governments at the talkfest intend to decide that wild species and wild places will not be allowed to compete with special interest groups or industrial lobbyists. Wildlife doesn't fund political parties, control newspapers or threaten to take its business elsewhere. As soon as money can be made from its destruction, wildlife goes." But shouldn't we, the broader community, share some responsiblity for this tragedy?

People still shop at Woolworths and Coles, even though they sell kangaroo meat, and have consistently refused to stop selling it. People still go duck shooting, or fishing. People still eat so-called "gourmet food", never mind the environmental costs that may be associated with producing it. Possum and game meat is still served in some restuarants. Flying foxes are reviled and tormented wherever they go to search for an ever-diminishing food supply. We allow our politicians to get away with this wildlife destruction, and with whatever else they want to do, because fighting the system is too hard. Someone wrote to us recently to say that it was our (the community's) fault the political system had fallen into such an undemocratic and corrupt mess. This writer claimed that most of the blame for the loss of our wild species rests squarely with us in the community.....all of us....because it's all been too hard.....* WPAA

Croc Killed By Rubbish

Discarded packing tape appears to have brought about the demise of a big crocodile in a central Queensland waterway. The three-metre croc was found on the banks of the Fitzroy River at Rockhampton on Monday. Authorities believe the reptile suffocated. Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) spokesman Joe Adair said rangers who inspected the carcass on Tuesday found blue packing tape looped tightly around its neck. "There was no sign that the animal had been shot or deliberately killed in any other way," Mr Adair said. "It's uncertain how the packing tape got around the crocodile's neck but it's likely that the loop went over its head and tightened around its neck. "This just shows how important it is to dispose of waste responsibly, so it doesn't end up in our waterways and kill native wildlife." Earlier, a Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) spokesman said the find was unusual as the area was "not big croc country". A DERM survey into the abundance of crocodiles in Queensland found there were just 0.04 crocs per kilometre in the Fitzroy River. "Rockhampton is right at the lower end of their natural habitat," the spokesman said. *AAP
As the level rises in the lower Murray, the benefits are becoming evident for local wildlife.

Rising Water Levels Help Turtles

The South Australian Environment Department says rising waters in the Goolwa Channel and Lower Lakes are helping turtles overcome tubeworm infestation. Kerri Bartley from the Department says many turtles became encrusted with tubeworms because high salinity when the water level dropped affected the animals' ability to feed. She said fewer sick turtles were now being bought into a local refuge. "The quality of that water is still not great, so there still is the chance of the tubeworm being active in the lower depths of the Goolwa Channel in the region," she said. "We're hoping that there's no more tubeworm-affected turtles but the possibility of them being infected is still there." *ABC

Kangaroo Statue Knicked!

Childside (WA) school students and staff are appealing for community help to find the school’s missing wooden kangaroo sculpture. The sculpture, which formerly sat at the school’s entrance, disappeared over the September 18 and 19 weekend It arrived at Childside for the official opening of the second school building last year and has great sentimental value to the families of the school community. Students worked with artist Russell Sheridan to create it. Russell’s wife Linda, who is also an artist and teacher, spoke to the children about the place of sculptures in society and showed them photos of other sculptures. She asked the children about what they felt was an important or significant memory for them and their school. Many of the older children, who had been at the school since its beginnings in 2003, drew pictures of kangaroos. The school’s original building was in a bushland setting and kangaroos often visited them there. The kangaroos became very familiar with the children and came quite close when they played outside. The students fear for the safety of their wooden friend and say they miss its presence at the beginning and end of their school day. If you have any information that may help in securing the sculpture’s safe return, the Childside School community would be very grateful to hear from you. Call the school administrator, Karron McDonald on 9731 5232 or 9731 5519 * Donnybrook Mail

National Parks

The Queensland Government has developed a new management plan for the Girraween National Park on the state's Southern Downs. The plan outlines how the park, south of Stanthorpe, will be managed over the next 10 years. The State Government says it sets out ways to deal with fires and pests. It also outlines new ways to protect rare and endangered animals and plants in the region like the spotted-tailed quoll and pearson's green tree frog. *ABC

Airport Bid Control

Last year in the US, Wildlife Services technicians euthanized 24,000 Canada geese, a full 10,000 more than the year before. Most are gassed in CO2 chambers, but those in close proximity to planes at airports are dispatched with a gunshot. Red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, pelicans, horned grebes, and many other species have wrought havoc on planes in recent years, and collisions with mallards, rock pigeons and mourning doves are common. Each US airport have special crews to specifically kill birds seen to be a potential threat to human life.

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Office for the Non-Profit Sector

The new Federal Government is currently establishing an Office for the Non-Profit Sector in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. The office will drive and coordinate the sector reform agenda, and will report directly to Minister for Human Services and Social Inclusion Tanya Plibersek. A Non-Profit Sector Reform Council made up of sector representatives is expected to be established by the end of the year. Minister Plibersek’s office says the council will play an important role in advising the government on the recommendations contained in the Productivity Commission’s report on the Contribution of the Not-for-Profit Sector which can be found at Changes related to some of the report’s recommendations are already under way, including the establishing of the Office for the Non-Profit Sector. The minister’s office expects options for a nationally-consistent approach to fundraising regulation to be developed by the end of the year, and consultation on that approach will be undertaken next year. A scoping study for a national ‘one-stop-shop’ regulator for the sector, which would alleviate the current complex regulatory arrangements and streamline reporting, will be finalised by early 2011. Also in 2011, a review of the efficiency and effectiveness of tendering, contracting and acquittal arrangements between the Federal Government and not-for-profit organisations will be undertaken across all government agencies. Ms Plibersek was previously Minister for Housing and Minister for the Status of Women. *Landcare News

Queensland Functions

Killarney Biodiversity Weekend | 23-24 October 2010. The Condamine Headwaters Landcare Group and Killarney Bushcare group are hosting a weekend focused on the wildlife of the district. The weekend will include speakers, workshops, a live animal show, BBQ, information and guided field trips around the district. Meet at Killarney Recreation Hall, Willow st at 8.30am. Contact Catherine on 07 4661 9909 or Susan on 07 464 4074. Northey Street City Farm Courses and Workshops The Northey Street City farm offers many courses and workshops throughout the year. Visit for more information.

Under Road Tunnels

A biologist with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes says wildlife are learning to use special crossings to safely get to the other side of U.S. Highway 93 as it passes through the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana. Whisper Camel says surveillance cameras in 41 tunnels have shown grizzly and black bears, moose, whitetail and mule deer, elk, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, beavers, badgers, river otters, skunks, and weasels passing under the road. She tells the Missoulian that her favorite wildlife photos are those of females that appear to be teaching their young to use the tunnels in the same way humans teach their children to safely cross a street. Camel says it will be several years before all the data is in and analyzed, but anecdotal evidence indicates there are fewer collisions between motorists and wildlife on the road. *WKRG News

ACT Environment Failure

The latest environmental reports from the ACT Government indicate the Territory's sustainability is behind national and international averages. The environment commissioner's annual report found the ACT continued its poor performance in the ares of energy, water and waste management. The report found the ACT has the highest greenhouse gas emissions per person in Australia and they are continuing to rise. It indicates efforts to decrease those emissions are challenging due to Canberra's fuel-reliant transport. The Territory's ecological footprint is also four times higher than the global average. The report refers to a replacement initiative for the 'No Waste by 2010' program which will be forced to be re-branded after waste increased by over 80 per cent since 1995. Water consumption per person in the Territory is 25 per cent higher than in New South Wales. The commissioner says the Territory faces an uphill battle to reach its sustainability targets. The Department of Environment, Climate Change, Energy and Water has also released its report. It found the electricity feed-in tariff scheme has resulted in a nearly 500 per cent increase in the use of renewable energy generators. The report notes the department's efforts to raise awareness of climate change. But the department itself has reported an increase in greenhouse gas emissions by 15 per cent in its own office space. *ABC


Ric O'Barry, the activist famous for his role in the Oscar-winning documentary, "The Cove," was "attacked by thugs" in Hurghada, Egypt, according a Facebook post by Earth Island Institute's "Save Japan Dolphins" campaign. The alleged assailants opened O'Barry's car door and tried shoving a pit bull inside, said the report. Barry was not harmed. Earth Island had not responded to a request for details at the time of this post. O'Barry, 70, who also starred in "Blood Dolphins" for the Animal Planet, is in Hurghada to protest the recent delivery of live dolphins from Taiji, Japan. The dolphins are going to help populate a new marine aquarium. The Facebook report implied the assailants were hired by a Hurghada dolphin dealer. Several conservation groups are protesting the ongoing dolphin hunt in Taiji, which is the site of the infamous Cove. The hunt, which is backed by the Japan Fisheries Agency, began Sept. 1. *Network Item


A scary moment for some families at the Kansas City Zoo. Viewers called KMBC-TV when they saw a kangaroo's tail run over by a train. Zoo officials said a red kangaroo was near the tracks when the train came by. The train runs through the kangaroo exhibit. The animal lost about 3 inches of it's tail and was rushed to surgery. The 15-year-old kangaroo was out of surgery Sunday night and was recovering. Kansas City Zoo General Curator Liz Harmon said, "We just had to treat the tail where it was injured. She can still balance and she'll be OK with what's left." The zoo will investigate what happened to prevent the accident from happening again. *

Animal experts were left baffled when a kangaroo hopped onto a German highway and was struck by a car. The mysterious marsupial suffered a broken leg and had to be put down after it bounded into the path of a 53-year-old driver, The Local reported today. Vets in Haren, northwestern Germany, are at a loss to explain where the animal, native to Australia and New Guinea, came from, the news website said. “So far, no kangaroo from a zoo or animal park has been reported as missing,” a police spokesman said. Bizarrely, Germany has seen a spate of roo-related incidents in recent years. Toto, an escapee from a German zoo, was "on the hop" for two weeks in 2008 before he was lured back into captivity with the help of his favourite food, peanut butter. *Australian

Wallaby Causes Accident

A woman, 55, is in a critical condition after she was knocked off her bicycle by a wallaby in Yeppoon. The woman was riding along Farnborough Rd around 5.25am today when the wallaby jumped out from the roadside. "This wallaby came across the road and knocked her off her bike," a police spokeswoman said. The woman - who was wearing a helmet - suffered serious head injuries. Paramedics treated her at the scene before transporting to her the Yeppoon Hospital. She was later transferred to the Rockhampton Base Hospital and has since been moved to the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital where she was being assessed in the emergency department. *Courier Mail

Crossbows to be Prohibited in WA.

Crossbow sales will be restricted in WA under laws being drafted because of the public outcry this year after a man was convicted of using one to kill a 26-year-old Karratha man. A spokeswoman for Acting Police Minister Christian Porter said yesterday crossbows would be re-classified from a controlled weapon to a prohibited weapon. A licence is not currently required to buy a crossbow but anyone who has one without a lawful excuse faces a $4000 fine or 12 months jail. The legislation is yet to be drafted, however it is understood the proposed laws will largely restrict the use of crossbows to sporting endeavours - but there may be exceptions. If crossbows became a prohibited weapon with items such as knuckledusters and Tasers, then buying, possessing, selling, supplying or manufacturing them would incur a $4000 fine or two years jail. Over the last few years, dozens of kangaroos have been killed or injured with crossbows in WA, but it took a human death to finally get them restriccted in WA. *

Fraser Island Dingoes

Figures from the inappropriately named Qld Dept of Environment and Resource Managment website show that sand was the main source of food for the Fraser Island dingoes, closely followed by fish, then bandicoots, echidnas, plant material, insect matter, bush rats, garbage, other inorganic material such as plastic, skinks, swamp wallaby and cats. They claim this investigation of scats was taken between 2002 and 2005, and an earlier one in 1995. We dont know how fish became a major food item, because the dingoes are now not allowed on the beach in case they upset a tourist. *WPAA

Climate Change

Freshwater is flowing into Earth's oceans in greater amounts every year, a team of researchers has found, thanks to more frequent and extreme storms linked to global warming. All told, 18 percent more water fed into the world's oceans from rivers and melting polar ice sheets in 2006 than in 1994, with an average annual rise of 1.5 percent. "That might not sound like much – 1.5 percent a year – but after a few decades, it's huge," said Jay Famiglietti, UC Irvine Earth system science professor and principal investigator on the study, which will be published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He noted that while freshwater is essential to humans and ecosystems, the rain is falling in all the wrong places, for all the wrong reasons.
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Ii isnot every day you get a chance to make an animal extinct twice. According to scientists, Victoria is steadily working on it. Leadbeater's possum, a marsupial endemic to native forest on Melbourne's fringe, was declared extinct in the 1950s, apparently wiped out by agricultural land-clearing around the Bass River in South Gippsland. It was rediscovered near Marysville in 1961 - an event considered so momentous it was chosen as one of the state's two faunal emblems. Its population peaked at about 8000 in the 1980s, but the last possum in captivity in Victoria died in 2006, and last year's Black Saturday bushfires devastated its main home in the central highlands, burning 42 per cent of the permanent reserve system in which it lives. Leading scientists say its survival is now at risk from the state's forestry industry, particularly the ongoing "salvage logging" operation aimed at maximising timber yields from blackened areas.
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Barbed Wire

A wildlife carer can't keep up with the sheer number of bandages she needs to patch up kangaroos injured after colliding with barbed-wire fences. Wildlife specialist Glenda Elliott has issued an urgent SOS to pharmaceutical companies and animal lovers to donate urgently needed dressings or cash to help her meet her big bandages bill. "It costs $100 a roo a day to dress the wounds caused by barbed-wire injuries that cut the animals to the bone," Ms Elliott said. "Because cuts invariably become infected and the roos suffer semi-paralysis from the stress of getting caught up on a wire fence, it takes several months before we get them hopping again." Ms Elliott has scores of roos on her 5ha property at Yackandandah, near Wodonga, and more than a dozen of them are recuperating from barbed-wire injuries. "It's the result of country towns growing as quickly as city suburbs, with all the development displacing roos and sending them packing," she said. "Frightened or chased by dogs and trail bike riders, they run blindly and get tangled up in the fences on the boundaries where township meets rural. "Their legs are injured mostly and then they usually hang upside down overnight until cut free. That causes roo myopathy, or stress, which leads to partial paralysis and long recovery time." Ms Elliott said barbed wire inflicted nasty injuries on native animals. "It cuts to the bone," she said. "You go through a lot of bandages and padding." People can donate to the Kangaloola Wildlife Shelter at RMB 2040A, Yackandandah 3749 or through BSB 803070, account number 78749. *Daily Telegraph


Australia's kangaroo export industry says Arnold Schwarzenegger has come to its rescue in his role as Californian Governor. After a vote in the Californian Senate, Mr Schwarzenegger has signed into law an exemption allowing kangaroo products to be imported for the next five years. The exemption has come as a relief to kangaroo exporters from Australia. In 2007, the industry was granted a three-year exemption from Californian legislation which bans importation of exotic animal parts. That arrangement had been due to expire at the end of this year. Ray Borda runs Macro Meats, Skins and Leather, based in Adelaide, and says the exemption is great news for those in the industry who have faced tough times in recent years, mainly due to prolonged drought and the global financial crisis.

"If you can understand like an Adidas or Puma or Diadora or any of those or even just fashion shoes or ladies handbags, motorcycle apparel, golf gloves, if a manufacturer is restricted to where they can go in the US, they generally will lose a little bit of interest," he explained. "[They] can use this unique leather now and we're pretty upbeat about that. That was a pretty much an injection that we needed." He said the benefits would also extend to marketing products in Europe. Executive officer of the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia, John Kelly, said it took a big lobbying effort to be granted a five-year extension. "It's a very significant reason for some of the grey hairs popping out up above my ears," he laughed. "The Californian legal system is complex and has a significant number of problems, one of which is that California has an enormous budget deficit, so getting them to look at any sort of legislative issue in California apart from the budget has been extremely difficult.

"It involves ... a lot of informing their politicians of the real issues behind the kangaroo industry, how it operates and how sustainable it is, the extensive level of government control, how many kangaroos there are and all of the positive environmental benefits which harvesting kangaroos delivers to this land." Mr Kelly said sporting boots were a big seller in California. "The most important aspect of the market for us is in fact soccer boots," he said. "California is probably the largest single market for soccer boots and many of the best soccer boots are made from kangaroo leather, so it was very important to retain that market." Mr Kelly conceded the trade battle would have to be fought again. "A few years down the track we're going to have to have a look at it again and try to get them to bring in a new piece of legislation with no sunset clause to give us permanent, ongoing, forever access to the place," he said. *ABC Ed Comment; Pople

Kangaroo Harassed to Death

A kangaroo that died after it was harassed and chased by picnickers has prompted wildlife rescuers to call on the public to leave native animals alone. Rescuers were called to the Greenvale Reservoir on September 26 after reports a kangaroo was being chased, forcing it to keep running into a fence. By the time rescuers arrived, the animal “was bleeding everywhere” with broken teeth, a broken jaw, fractured eye socket and inflamed face from trying to escape through the fence. Wildlife rescuer Laurelle Erwin said they had no choice but to euthanise the male kangaroo. “People were just harassing him all day and it led to his death,” she said. Ms Erwin said hundreds of people were at the picnic site chasing the kangaroo and frightening it. The situation could have ended worse, with injuries making kangaroos “nervous and unpredictable”, she said. “There were kids chasing him, he could’ve turned around and killed them, when they panic they can do all sorts of things.”

With more people expected to picnic and visit reserves in the lead-up to summer, Ms Erwin has called on the public to stay away from native animals. Ms Erwin was disappointed the public harassed the animal and said people needed more knowledge about how to treat wildlife properly. “It could’ve been prevented and we could’ve moved him on,” she said. RSPCA spokesman Tim Pilgrim said the public “should not attempt to chase or herd it away as the animal may become frightened or disoriented and injure itself”. He said the RSPCA was “very upset” that the kangaroo had to be put down. If you see injured wildlife call Wildlife Rescuers on 0417 506 941 or Wildlife Victoria on 1300 094 535. *Hume Leader

Wildlife Poaching

The end of August saw the arrest of a woman who tried to smuggle a sedated baby tiger cub through Suvarnabhumi Airport and aboard a flight to Iran. Now comes the detection and seizure this week of 1,140 endangered star tortoises aboard an arriving flight from Bangladesh. In between was a massive haul of African ivory. This not only shows that Thai customs authorities are maintaining their vigilance; it confirms that the intensive training given to airport staff under the "Wildlife Trafficking Stops Here" campaign is a worthwhile project that should be extended to land border posts to foil cross-border smuggling. Stepped-up action is necessary for several reasons. The number of tigers in Asia has plummeted due mainly to habitat loss and poachers who sell their skins and body parts to medicinal and souvenir markets in China, a traditional but illegal activity that Beijing insists it is determined to stamp out. Trade in tigers has been outlawed, no matter whether the animals are domesticated or come from the wild. With so few left in Thai forests, saving them has to be given top priority.

It is troubling that a clandestine market exists for them as high-priced exotic pets in Iran or anywhere else for that matter. A similar fate awaits trafficked star tortoises in Southeast Asia even though they are supposedly protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and cannot be exported without a special permit. In both of these cases, those arrested face jail terms of up to 4 years each and/or a maximum fine of 40,000 baht. This is hardly sufficient to deter an illicit international trade in rare species which has a turnover of billions of baht a year. Worldwide, the wildlife trade is reputed to be the second largest form of black market commerce, only falling behind drug smuggling.

Successive Thai governments have held out promises of tougher laws to protect the country's disappearing wildlife, something the well-intentioned but ineffective 1992 Preservation and Protection Act and earlier 1961 Parks Act have failed to do. Evidence of this inadequacy can be seen any weekend at Chatuchak Market. Not far from the pitiable rows of often sick, caged creatures for sale can be found groups of wildlife traders who openly operate here because the penalties are so small. Arrests have been made for dealing in Madagascan Ploughshare tortoises, so rare that conservationists say only 300 remain in the world, and slow lorises, endangered primates that live in Southeast Asian forests. But when the cases eventually came to court, only fines were imposed. Conservation campaigns at Chatuchak have not shown much success of late.

We can only look back in horror at the events of the past decade and the criticism they have brought as one scandal has followed another. There was the disastrous attempt to import 135 wild animals including zebras and giraffes from Kenya for the Night Safari Zoo in Chiang Mai, the clandestine export of up to 100 tigers to a Chinese zoo, the smuggling of orangutans from Indonesia to a private Thai zoo and the protracted delay in returning them, and the mishandling of an elephant-koala swap with Australia. Nearly 20 years ago, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, not known for sugarcoating his criticisms, embarrassed Thai officials presenting him with a conservation award when he said: "Your country is one of the most notorious centres of trading in endangered species in the world." The shocking part is that if that were true in 1991, it is equally true today. *Bangkok Post

ACT Environment Failure

The latest environmental reports from the ACT Government indicate the Territory's sustainability is behind national and international averages. The environment commissioner's annual report found the ACT continued its poor performance in the ares of energy, water and waste management. The report found the ACT has the highest greenhouse gas emissions per person in Australia and they are continuing to rise. It indicates efforts to decrease those emissions are challenging due to Canberra's fuel-reliant transport. The Territory's ecological footprint is also four times higher than the global average. The report refers to a replacement initiative for the 'No Waste by 2010' program which will be forced to be re-branded after waste increased by over 80 per cent since 1995. Water consumption per person in the Territory is 25 per cent higher than in New South Wales. The commissioner says the Territory faces an uphill battle to reach its sustainability targets. The Department of Environment, Climate Change, Energy and Water has also released its report. It found the electricity feed-in tariff scheme has resulted in a nearly 500 per cent increase in the use of renewable energy generators. The report notes the department's efforts to raise awareness of climate change. But the department itself has reported an increase in greenhouse gas emissions by 15 per cent in its own office space. *ACT

Dingoes Targeted

Dingo numbers are out of control south of the famed dog fence, killing thousands of sheep and threatening the livelihoods of graziers across South Australia. Sheep graziers say the dingo population is the largest in living memory and they are rampantly breeding below the dog fence, which is supposed to be dingo-free. There are no precise estimates on numbers, but 200 dingoes were shot, trapped or baited below the fence in the last year. Sheep grazier Geoff Mengersen from Depot Springs, about 120km below the fence, has shot 13 dingoes in the past 13 weeks. "It's the worst it's ever been," he said. "I think it will eventually drive us out of the country. While you're hunting dogs, there's a lot of other things that are being neglected." He said dingoes had killed more than 1000 lambs on his 500 square mile Leigh Creek property in the past year.

He said the main cause was large swathes of disused pastoral land and station owners not adequately baiting and trapping dingoes. The situation is expected to worsen in coming weeks as dingo pups become independent. State Liberal MP Dan Van Holst Pellekaan, whose vast electorate of Stuart covers most of eastern SA, said dingoes were causing "extraordinary difficulty" for the pastoral industry and property owners were "completely under-resourced". He raised the issue in Parliament last week and has called for the State Government to fund dingo eradication south of the dog fence. SA Arid Lands Natural Resources Management Board general manager John Gavin said dingoes south of the fence were a declared pest and it was the landholders' responsibility to control them. He said the Sheep Industry Fund had helped fund Biteback, a program aimed at reducing dingo numbers.

"Biteback engages landholders in local area planning to increase participation in controlling dingo numbers and improve access to a range of control methods," he said. He said the program was operating in the North Flinders district and would be rolled out in the North East, Kingoonya and Gawler Ranges districts. The dog fence was built to keep dingoes out of south-eastern Australia and is the world's longest fence. It is more than 5600km long and runs from the Darling Downs in Queensland through SA to Streaky Bay. * Adelaide Now Ed Comment, the dingo fence needs to come down.

More 1080

Feral cats and foxes are wiping out vast numbers of native animals in the South-West, with a four-year study linking the introduced pests with the decline and extinction of a variety of species. The Department of Environment and Conservation examination of five rural sites has confirmed the extinction of three native animals, the broad-faced potoroo and species of both the nail tail wallaby and the hopping mouse. It is estimated about 15 others, including the pygmy and western brush-tailed possums, are under threat from the pests. The study established for the first time that cats were killing the endangered woylie and concluded that as baiting programs wiped out foxes in some areas, feral cat activity rose because of a lack of competition. Department senior research scientist Keith Morris said the project was an analysis of pest and native animal activity at Lake Magenta, Mt Gibson Station, the Dryandra Woodlands, the Upper Warren area near Manjimup and the northern jarrah forest near Dwellingup. It also examined how foxes and feral cats responded to current and modified baiting programs. "The study showed that cats were a more important predator in the South-West than we thought and that cats are a major predator of woylies," Mr Morris said.

Researchers were able to prove feral cats were slaughtering the small marsupials after they left their DNA, from saliva, on tagged animals. "After our initial response to fox control, cats have then increased in the South-West and then they have now become the problem, but that's not to diminish the role of foxes," Mr Morris said. The findings have prompted the development of a new cat bait - a soft, sausage-like meat with an increased dose of the poison 1080. That bait is also eaten by foxes. Mr Morris said research in the 1980s suggested foxes were to blame for a rapid decline in species. That trend was curbed by the late 1990s but by 2001 species numbers began to decline again, prompting the most recent documentation. He said trial baiting had been successful in many areas of the State, curbing fox and cat levels by as much as 80 per cent but if baits were placed in dense bush they often went untouched. At the Lake Magenta site, fox activity was reduced by about 50 per cent during the four-year study while re- introduced bandicoots were found to be surviving. It is thought simultaneous baiting, a combination of ground and aerial drops, was the most effective form of eradicating the pests. Trials are under way in Fitzgerald River National Park to ensure that native animals such as the chuditch do not die from the new cat baits. * WA News

Ed comment; What can we say? Losing these small species has got nothing to do with landclearing, controlled fires, and uncontrolled housing and highway development, has it? Decades of using 1080 in WA, which uses more 1080 than Tasmania, and the native animals are still on the way out, and the cats and foxes are apparently thriving! We've just had a letter from a family that drove along a new highway between Nambung Nat Park (Pinnacles). They were on way back to Perth and they were absolutley horrified at the amount of reptiles (lizards in particular, and snakes) killed on this stretch. The carnage was shocking, they said. There is no doubt cats and foxes do impact on wildlife, but cats and foxes also make a handy scapegoat for damaging human activities.