Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wildlife Bytes Australia 13/10/10


We've had terrible weather round the Southeast corner of Queensland for the past couple of weeks. On the upside, all the Southeast Queensland Dams are full, so there is plenty of water if you can afford to pay for it. Depending on who we talk to, the Queensland Government in the last couple of years, spent between 9 and 11 billion dollars on a Southeast Queensland Water Grid, which is now no longer needed. The process of putting in pipelines seriously inconvenienced many people and in many cases, wrecked our roads, and damaged lots of wildlife habitat. All the dam spillways were opened last night, and of course the huge volume of water being released is having another erosive impact on riverine wildlife habitat! Wildlife just cant win!

Leading Stories

Wildlife Smuggling

The Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) raided two premises in Penang linked to wildlife smuggler Anson Wong. The raids were conducted yesterday afternoon at two farms in Teluk Bahang and Balik Pulau. Perhilitan officers from its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur raided the Teluk Bahang farm at 6.30pm. They seized a number of reptiles, including monitor lizards and a python. There were also two Bengal tigers, a crocodile and other animals at the farm. Owing to the late hour, the department will be seizing the other animals today. Earlier, at the farm in Balik Pulau, several exotic birds called tiong mas were seized. It is believed that more than 50 animals were seized in both raids. Perhilitan officers will be visiting another of Wong's premises in Jalan Jones here today.

On Aug 26, 52-year-old Wong, nicknamed the Lizard King, was detained at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport after more than 90 snakes were seized from his luggage. On Sept 6, he was sentenced to six months jail and fined RM190,000 by the magistrate's court in Sepang. All licences and special permits issued to Wong and his wife to sell or possess wildlife have been revoked. In a statement, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said the decision was made with the consent of minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas on Sept 22. A new application by Wong's wife, Cheah Bing Shee, to obtain a permit to export wildlife under the International Trade in Endangered Species Act 2008 had been denied, the ministry had said. In 2000, Wong was sentenced to 71 months' jail in the United States after he pleaded guilty to wildlife trafficking. *NewsStraitTimes

Climate Change

Tasmania will be almost 3C hotter by the end of the century if carbon emissions continue at the current rate, according to new climate modelling released yesterday. The Climate Futures for Tasmania: General Climate Impacts Technical Report outlined two different scenarios for the state depending on the level of greenhouse gas emissions in coming years. If emissions continue at the current high rate, the temperature will rise by about 2.9C, while under lower emissions it is still expected to rise 1.6C. Climate Futures for Tasmania general climate analyst Michael Grose, an author of the report, said Tasmania's temperature had increased by 0.5C since the 1940s and it would get increasingly hotter with each decade. Rainfall is projected to increase in coastal regions, but would reduce over central Tasmania. Pan evaporation would be up 19 per cent, with the greatest rise in the North and West of the state.

Dr Grose said the projected changes for Tasmania were slightly lower than for mainland Australia and less than the global projected change of up to 3C. But that did not mean the effects of climate change would necessarily be less. "We really don't know until it happens, but some reports suggest some natural values, including the highland regions, are among the most sensitive in Australia and that even a small change will have a significant impact," Dr Grose said. He said the report information would be taken into account in the development of infrastructure. "Farmers are keen to get this information because they'll be one of the groups affected the most," Dr Grose said.

Launching the report yesterday, Climate Change Minister Nick McKim said it was important to be as prepared as possible for changes. "Tackling climate change is not simply a matter of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but adaptation to inevitable changes in the environment," Mr McKim said. He said infrastructure, including roads and hydro, agriculture and other industries would benefit from projections about what to expect. Liberal climate change spokesman Matthew Groom said Mr McKim was all reports, no action. "Mr McKim has failed to set, let alone deliver, any specific actions," Mr Groom said. *Mercury

Wildlife MiniBytes

Murray Darling Plan Critised

The draft Murray Darling Basin management plan has come in for heavy early criticism from all sides. Susan Ley, Federal MP for Farrer, says farming communities will be devastated by proposed cuts to water allocations of as much as 37 percent. While conservationists say cuts to irrigation allocations do not go far enough. The Darling River Action Group points to scientific assessments of the amount of water needed to sustain a healthy river system. *

Pigmy Possums

Lessons learned from its past and revealed in fossils might help save a unique, incredibly cute but critically endangered marsupial. The mountain pygmy possum, weighing 45g and able to fit easily in the palm of a hand, is found only in the Snowy Mountains. Research by the State Government has shown that only 2000 of the possums are left in the wild and their numbers are falling fast. Leading palaeontologist Professor Mike Archer, from the University of NSW, said yesterday that despite being specialised to its high altitude environment - it is the world's only hibernating marsupial - it once lived in lowland rainforests. "We can't rely on just breeding them up for release into alpine areas because climate change is already threatening that habitat," said Professor Archer, from the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences. "We don't know why they are so restricted now but they were clearly once much more widespread, so there's good reason to believe they could still survive and thrive at much lower altitudes." The plan has won support from the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife and the Australian Geographic Society. * Daily Telegraph

Wildlife Poaching

More than 500 African grey parrots were confiscated by the authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). They have now being cared for at the Lwiro Primate Sanctuary. The parrots were kept in appalling conditions The first of its kind in the DRC, the confiscation represents an important step towards permanently ending the wildlife trade for this endangered species, which is threatened by decades of unsustainable levels of trade. The shipment of 523 grey parrots was bound for Singapore and seized at a regional airport in Kavumu in DRC. The birds were taken straight to Lwiro Sanctuary which is a primate rescue centre housing more than 100 orphaned chimpanzees and monkeys. *NetworkItem


A bountiful crop of krill and busy shipping lanes are to blame for a rash of dead whales that have surfaced around the Bay Area within a few short months, according to scientists. At least five dead whales have been sighted or have washed ashore around the region since late July, not including a male fetus found near its 80-foot-long mother in Pescadero on Oct. 2. A certain number of whale deaths occur up and down the California coast each year, as the leviathans migrate from southern birthing grounds to rich feeding areas in Northern California, Oregon and Washington. But researchers say the spike in fatalities in waters off the Bay Area this summer and early fall is unusual. "We're definitely seeing an increase in ship strikes - it's awful," said Mary Jane Schramm, spokeswoman for the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Researchers say the animals appear to be following abundant swarms of krill - the tiny,
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Authorities are investigating the death of another dugong found on a Cairns beach in far north Queensland. The adult dugong carcass was found at Yorkey's Knob, in the northern suburbs of Cairns yesterday. The Department of Environment Resource Management is investigating the discovery. Five dugongs have been found dead in illegal fishing nets off the coast of Cairns since March. Meanwhile, researchers say climate change is having an impact on dugong and turtle numbers in the state's far north. James Cook University researcher Dr Mariana Fuentes says climate change, fishing, onshore development and pollution are all contributing to a decline in numbers. But she says climate change is having the greatest impact. "If we think in terms of climate change being a depleted population of turtles and dugongs, [it] is only going to lower the capacity of turtles and dugongs in the future, because when you are depleted you are more vulnerable to additional stresses such as climate change," she said. *ABC

Climate Change

Marine researchers say their study of ocean currents is shedding new light on global climate change. Oceanographer Andrew Hogg from the Australian National University in Canberra is studying ocean eddies. Ocean eddies look like ringlets on the water's surface and are considered ubiquitous. They may cover between 50 to 100 kilometres of sea and can exist for more than six months in particular parts of the ocean. "In climate we are only interested in the large scales as a result of all the climate processes. We are interested in how much heat gets taken around the globe. That's what we really care about," Dr Hogg said. *ABC

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Zoo keepers hold grave concerns for a heavily-pregnant monkey missing from Alma Park Zoo after her male partner was found dead on Sunday afternoon. Residents found the body of the highly-endangered Cotton-top Tamarin Tonto around 3pm within a Surround St housing estate, which neighbours the Dakabin zoo, north of Brisbane. General Manager Garry Connell said police were door-knocking the area and asking locals to keep an eye out for the female, named Conchetta. The pair went missing from their enclosure at the zoo sometime between 5pm yesterday and 7.30am today. ``We don't know whether the people who broke in actually captured the little female or whether they both managed to escape,'' Mr Connell said. ``We're still hopeful that the female might be in the zoo proper. `We've kept her enclosure open tonight with lights and food and hopefully that might entice her back out into somewhere warm and familiar.''

Mr Connell said Conchetta, who weighs just 500g and is expecting twins, would probably only survive another 24 hours in the wild. `Between her diet, being heavily pregnant, very stressed and cold, she hasn't got much going for her, poor little thing,'' he said. ``All the keepers are devastated. Even the zoo staff that didn't work with the animals are upset. Some of the cafe staff were in tears.'' Mr Connell appealed for anyone with information about the Tamarins' disappearance to contact the zoo or police. Contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day *Courier Mail Ed Comment, The male was believed bludgeoned to death, and the female was sighted alive last night at nearby housing estate.


Good winter rain means SA kangaroo numbers could be the highest in decades. The kangaroo industry says it has faced tough times for the past 11 years, with drought forcing many roo shooters to look elsewhere for work. The president of the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia, Ray Borda, says kangaroo numbers are now expected to rise. "We'll see numbers, coming out of summer, that we haven't seen in 30 years. You'll see hundreds of thousands," he said. "In some areas, like in the North-East Pastoral area (SA), there used to be reported numbers of anywhere up to 50 per square kilometre. "In recent years that has dropped to eight per square kilometre. That's because kangaroos won't stay around if there is no feed or water. Now these numbers are building up again and I think we will see those 50 per square kilometres come back in some areas." The Environment Department is waiting on results of its latest aerial surveys, but also expects kangaroos to flourish given the good outback conditions. *ABC

The high Australian dollar and the closure of trade into Russia is crippling the kangaroo industry. Wet weather has also meant for a lean year, with one processing company, Game Meat Processing, unable to work for around four and a half months this year. General manager of the Queensland-based company Rex Devantier says it's been very disruptive. "It has been difficult, what it does is disrupt continuity of supply, and it also makes it hard to provide employment to our people. "Looking forward though the better seasons will mean animal numbers will increase having had better conditions." Mr Devantier says to add to their problems, the skin market has fallen away. "With the Global Financial Crisis, the international demand for luxury leather products is down at the moment. "Continuity of supply is also a problem this year because of the wet weather." He says Russian and Chinese authorities are expected to visit Australia soon to work towards opening those markets up. "China presents an opportunity; we've already had Chinese officials come through our plants, and we're expecting a visit by some additional officials this year. "We're expecting an imminent visit from a number of Russian officials so hopefully we can secure a positive outcome post their visit."

An Australian woman who adopted an orphaned baby kangaroo says he's developing some very human traits. Julianna Bradley says Beemer loves Vegemite on toast, drinking cider, playing football and watching television. Ms Bradley, of Glendambo, South Australia, says his favourite television programme - naturally - is Skippy. "He just stands there and watches it. He relates to it, he loves the theme music and dances to it," she said. She became Beemer's adopted mum 18 months ago when he was rescued from his mother's pouch after she was killed by a motorcycle. *Orange.co.uk

Australia's kangaroo export industry is hoping it will receive a boost from a trade win in the US State of California. Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has introduced an exemption for his state so it can get around a US ban on kangaroo imports. Queensland harvesters have had a tough few years after Russia banned kangaroo exports due to food safety concerns. Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia spokesman John Kelly says the exemption will mean kangaroo parts can be exported to California until 2016. "The most important aspect of the market for us is soccer boots," he said. "California is probably the largest single market in the world for soccer boots and many of the very best soccer boots are in fact made from kangaroo leather, so it was important for us to retain that market." *ABC

A harvester in the Charleville region says he's had to pick up contract work and his wife's had to go back to part time work because the wet weather is preventing him from working. Peter Melano says all harvesters are doing it tough. He says he's been able to get out into paddocks one night per week on average because of the wet weather. "You might get a night in a week, or sometimes not even that. "I'd say on average I've only shot a quarter of the amount of roos I'd normally shoot in a year." Mr Melano says roo carcases are returning 70 cents per kilo at the moment, well back from the $1.30 being fetched before the Russian market fell over. He says pigs are returning 90 cents a kilo, a reasonable price at the moment. Game Meat Processors also harvest wild boar, and Rex Devantier says if there is a positive side to game meat, it's the boar market with record throughput this year. He says shortages in France and Germany have seen good demand for wild boar. Mr Devantier says its helped prop up their business after the roo market has struggled to pay its way. "Predominant markets are Germany and France. "Australian wild boar has always been purchased by those markets to top up local supplies. "We've had a record year in terms of volume this year - even with the large amount of rainfall we received which did interrupt harvesting. "But pricing has been affected by the strong Australian dollar." *ABC Rural

Police and animal welfare experts are investigating the death of a kangaroo found bludgeoned in a park near Werribee in Melbourne's west. Residents made the grisly find in parkland by a creek near the corner of Akoona Way and Paringa Pass at Wyndham Vale about 8pm. Nigel Williamson of animal welfare service Nigel's Animal Rescue was called in by police to collect the kangaroo's body. "It was found with a plank of wood with blood on it beside the body," he said. "It's been dead at least 48 hours. "The body might have been dumped here. "There's a wheelie bin about 20 feet [six metres] away that has blood all over it." Investigator Barrie Tapp of the Animal Cruelty Hotline said his service would conduct an autopsy. "It's about time people stood up and dobbed in these bludgers because animal cruelty is just getting out of hand," Mr Tapp said.

"The RSPCA and the Animal Cruelty Hotline are both reporting a 10 to 20 per cent increase in incidents this year." Mr Tapp said it was possible the kangaroo had been hit by a car, then bludgeoned in a poor attempt to finish off the stricken animal. Mr Tapp said police, council rangers and wildlife shelters were better equipped to deal with a badly injured animal. Any attempt to put a stricken animal out of its misery could prolong its agony, he said. "Ring an expert. Even the wildlife shelters are open 24 hours," he said. A Victoria Police spokeswoman said Werribee police were awaiting the autopsy results before launching an investigation. Anyone with information should phone the Animal Cruelty Hotline on (03) 1800 751 770 or 0409 144 803. *Sydney Morning Herald


Animal Cruelty

A Monash University expert says people who commit acts of animal cruelty pose a significant safety risk to the community. Associate Professor Eleonora Gullone from the School of Psychiatry and Psychology said the number of inhumane acts committed against kangaroos and domesticated animals over the past two years in Whittlesea was concerning. "There is evidence that kangaroos are disliked by farmers and rural property owners,” she said. "They’re regarded as pests and certainly the community attitude towards cruelty to kangaroos is not as negative as it would be if it were to be companion animals such as dogs and cats. "There’s an inappropriate degree of acceptance of kangaroo cruelty and so you’ll find that youth are not discouraged from animal cruelty like this.”

Prof Gullone said the reported violence against domesticated animals and horses sounded more like acts of revenge, perhaps against the owners. While there is no proof that animal cruelty is more prevalent in Whittlesea than other areas of Melbourne, Prof Gullone said alarm bells should be ringing. "There is evidence that the more aggressive people are towards animals the more aggressive they are to humans,” she said. "It’s more common among males aged 18-30, and it’s more common among people who engage in criminal behaviour. "They do pose a risk.”

In the last few months, a mutilated and dismembered kangaroo was scattered across the front yard of an Epping house; two eastern grey kangaroos are found alive with arrows protruding from their bodies in Bundoora bushland at University Hill. One of them dies days later. Five kangaroos are shot and dumped on a vacant residential block in Meridian Drive, Mill Park; and seven dead grey kangaroos are found scattered across two properties east of Harvest Home Rd, Epping. There were a number of domestic animals killed as well.*Whittlesea Leader


Duck Shooting

The SA RSPCA has joined forces with Animal Liberation, Birds SA, Fauna Rescue SA and Animals Australia in a combined effort to permanently ban the horrific practice of duck shooting in South Australia. The Coalition Against Duck and Quail Shooting aims to put pressure on the state government and rally the support of the South Australian community as ammunition to end this barbarism once and for all. RSPCA CEO, Steve Lawrie, says duck shooting is an archaic, senseless practice that results in the unnecessary suffering and death of thousands of defenseless birds throughout the South Australian wetlands. "Every year, during the government-declared 'open season' many thousands of ducks are shot in the name of this ‘sport'. Some of these ducks will be killed outright. Some will be wounded, brought down and killed on retrieval. Many others will be crippled or wounded and will die a slow, painful and prolonged death over several hours or even days,” said Steve. "This legalised cruelty is totally unacceptable. The only way to protect our delicate ecosystem and those animals who peacefully call it home is to completely ban it.”

Due to the intrinsically cruel method of killing, the coalition believes recreational duck shooting inevitably violates animal welfare legislation and is incompatible with the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 1985. "In any other context, this cruelty would not be acceptable and the RSPCA would be able to prosecute,” said Steve. Animal Liberation spokesperson Geoffrey Russell said "We’ve seen first-hand the horrific injuries suffered by ducks.” "The public would be outraged if they could see the suffering caused by duck shooting,” he said. Fauna Rescue duck coordinator Suzanne Pope said "We know that the public really cares about ducks.” "People are really grateful when we look after the orphan ducklings or injured ducks they have rescued, and they certainly don’t want to see them going back into the wild only to be shot," she said.

The Coalition is calling on South Australians to take action. "With duck shooting already banned in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia, the South Australian community should be infuriated that this cruel and barbaric practice is still allowed to continue in this state,” said Steve. "We urge all South Australians to speak or write to their local Member of Parliament to voice their concerns. Give the state government no choice but to finally take notice of the overwhelming chorus of disapproval and make duck shooting a priority on the political agenda.” Media Release


Drop Bears

Territorians aren't afraid to go out on a limb and believe in the unbelievable. There's UFOs, a Territory tiger or a monkey on the loose in the northern suburbs of Darwin. Now we can add the legendary drop bear to the list. A Darwin man has set up a Drop Bear Preservation Society - and he insists it is not a joke. It appears Kevin La Motte is not the only one who believes fluffy koalas can turn into killers - more than 40 people turned up to the foundation meeting held at the weekend. Do drop bears exist? And what is the best way to ward them off? Mr La Motte handed out 300 flyers at Mindil Beach Sunset Markets to advertise the event. "It is not an elaborate joke," he said. "We plan to incorporate the committee in the next few weeks." The drop bear is a mythical marsupial similar to a koala which lurks in trees ready to launch itself on unsuspecting people and attack them. It is a tall tale told to overseas tourists to spook them, especially when camping.

A generous dollop of Vegemite behind each ear is said to be the best way to keep the vicious beasts away. But Mr La Motte believes there must be a kernel of truth in the story. He said paleontologists had discovered the remains of giant wombat-like creatures in central Queensland and giant kangaroos in Tasmania - so why couldn't drop bears exist as well? "Many previously unknown species and sub-species have been found, and the investigations are continuing, so the idea of a large marsupial evolving to live in trees is not only possible but quite likely," he said. Mr La Motte said the aim of the Drop Bear Preservation Society was to conduct research into their existence and attempt to elevate the animal to the status of an Australian icon. *NT News


Harbor Toxins

Toxin tests on live mussels placed in the Swan River to test the amount of contaminants released by Fremantle Ports' dredging process have again shown detectable levels of poisons. The results show heavy metals, organotins and tributyltin stirred up by the dredging are being taken up by marine creatures. A report detailing the latest environmental monitoring by the port said the contaminants found in the test mussels as well as wild mussels plucked from port pylons "did not exceed trigger levels relevant to the protection of fishing and aquaculture values". But the report warned that mussels taken from the area should not be eaten - advice in line with general health advisories on the taking of shellfish from the wild.

Similar tests on mussels performed after the first six weeks of dredging earlier this year showed detectable levels of tributyltin, polychlorinated biphenyls and heavy metals. The latest environmental report noted management trigger levels for light monitoring over seagrass beds had been triggered on a number of occasions from September 27 to October 3, but said the risk of significant impact on seagrass from light reduction associated with the dredging plume was "low". The dredging program, now in its second phase, has created a long-running milky plume in the river that last week resulted in warning signs being erected in part of the estuary from Fremantle to Bicton to deter swimmers. "Ongoing monitoring throughout the dredging program has confirmed that there are no ecosystem or public health threats," a statement from Fremantle Ports said. Dredging should finish within weeks. WA News


Wildlife Websites of Interest

Rocky Creek Wildlife Refuge is based in the Upper Hunter Valley NSW Australia. It is owned and run by Sandra Stewart and Jeremy Nunn who have a general wildlife carers licence. The property was purchased to enable the rehabilitation and release into safety for orphaned and injured wildlife.


The purpose of the Koala Diaries website is to educate and engage the community in koala conservation. It is a hub for community participation in saving Australia's iconic koala, under threat of extinction from urban development, loss of habitat and disease. Our online koala sighting survey uses leading edge GIS software from ESRI Australia to capture data of koala sightings Australia-wide, helping to drive awareness and generate new learning about koalas. With a single national database of koala sightings, we seek to bring together researchers, government agencies and the community to collaborate on more informed policies to save the koala. Sign up as a member today, it is free.


All the animals that come into care are treated and rehabilitated. Our aim is to return every animal that is capable of surviving back into its natural environment.



Kangaroos - Faces in the Mob!
(We recently ran out of stock of this very popular magical DVD, but now have new supplies in! Buy Now! Buy Now!....before we run out again!)

On the east coast of Australia lies a valley of magical beauty, surrounded by mountains and shrouded in mists during winter. In these idyllic surroundings live a mob of wild Eastern Grey Kangaroos whose society is rich and complex. Faces in the mob is an engaging true story of life within this one mob of Australian wild Eastern Grey Kangaroos.

For two years, award-winning Australian filmmakers Dr. Jan Aldenhoven and Glen Carruthers lived with this mob. Hear their compelling account of the world of these captivating marsupials where each animal has its own personality. Buy the DVD now with Paypal...$29.95 Au includes free postage in Australia.

Faces in the Mob!

Follow the destinies of two lovable joeys - a female named Sunshade whose mother is conscientious and successful, and Jaffa, a little male full of pluck and courage whose mother is absent-minded. And witness everything from birth to the dramatic and sometimes deadly battles between adult males.

Never before has the richness and complexity of the kangaroo society and the daily drama of their family life been revealed in such stunning detail. Superbly photographed, this beautiful story of Australia's most famous animal will captivate you from beginning to end. This is the best documentary about our beloved kangaroos that has ever been produced. Profits from sales of the DVD go to help the Kangaroo Protection Coalition to campaign for the protection of our beautiful kangaroos.

Buy the DVD now for $29.95 in Australia, or $34.95 Au Paypal for International postage delivery.

Buy Faces in the Mob now!


This DVD would make a great "All Year Round" present!


Thinking about Wildlife?

Who’s going to watch over our wildlife when you no longer share their World? Well, we are! The Wildlife Protection Association of Australia Inc. will continue to forcefully lobby governments to do better with wildlife management, and by taking them to Court if necessary. We are currently working on developing eLearning projects, so students can become aware of the importance of our wildlife living in a safe and secure natural environment. After you have looked after your family and friends in your Will, think about wildlife.

A bequest to the Wildlife Protection Association of Australia Inc. will ensure that we can continue to take a leading role in protecting and conserving our precious wildlife. None of the donations we receive are diverted to "administration". Every dollar we get through bequests or donations for wildlife hits the ground running!

Talk to your solicitor, or if writing your own Will, add the words "I bequeath to The Wildlife Protection Association of Australia Inc. for the purpose of protecting wildlife in Australia (a specified sum), or (specified items including land or vehicle), or (the residue of my estate) or (percentage of my estate) free of all duties, and the receipt of the President, Secretary or other authorised WPAA officer for the time being shall be a complete and sufficient discharge for the executor(s)." You can also phone me for a confidential chat, as to how a bequest can help us work to protect our wildlife, when you are no longer able to. * Pat O’Brien, WPAA 07 54941890


Welcome to all our new members, readers, and supporters. Wildlife Bytes (Qld BN 18253945) is a free weekly email update provided by the Wildlife Protection Association of Australia Inc. PO Box 309, Beerwah, Qld, 4519, and Wildlife Bytes Pty Ltd. It is read by thousands of people worldwide. To receive Wildlife Bytes, and other wildlife information, subscribe online at http://www.wildlifeprotectaust.org.auYour email address is safe with us and is kept confidential.

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