Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wildlife Bytes 3/8/11


A plan to put possums on birth control may cost ratepayers of one city council $160,000. The brushtail possum population in Carlton North's Curtain Square is held responsible for damaging its trees. Culling the passel of about 60 possums would cost $60,000 less, but Yarra Council says it would be controversial and upset wildlife lovers. The council plans a two-year hormone implant trial to stop possums breeding in the square. Greens Mayor Alison Clarke said yesterday the square's trees were in poor condition because of possum numbers, but culling was not the answer. "We could potentially cull the possums, but that would mean a lot of people would be very upset," she said."We don't want to just kill all the possums. We want to have wildlife in the city and we have to learn to co-exist with it." Public comment will be sought on the plan, with the council to make a final decision in September. A law to ban possum feeding will also be considered.

Animal Active campaign director Rheya Linden said a cull would be misdirected and counterproductive. "Other possums will move in within three weeks and that will be after nightly fighting for control of the territory," she said. Ms Linden said possums did not damage trees. She blamed years of neglect and drought. Wildlife Victoria spokeswoman Amy Amato called for other options to be considered, such as indigenous plantings to provide adequate food. "Introducing practices that promote a healthy ecosystem, is a more sustainable, humane and long-term solution," she said. Lord Mayor Robert Doyle last year described city-dwelling possums as vermin and suggested attracting powerful owls to parks was one way of dealing with the problem. *Herald Sun


Editorial...... The Killing Fields

Queensland bureacrats demand a family pet dog be killed because it has Hendra virus; a habituated red kangaroo that injured a lady while looking for something to eat, killed by other Queensland bureacrats; 650 kangaroos and pademelons needlessly killed on Tasmania's Maria Island, because the Government won't look at nonlethal population control methods; nearly one hundred kangaroos killed in a Perth suburb to accomodate housing expansion; former Fed. Env. Minister Peter Garrett spends over $200,000 of taxpayers dollars to aerial shoot camels; the Queensland Government aerial shoots hundreds of wild horses in the Carnnarvon National Park, providing plentiful food for wild dogs, which will later be poisoned by adjacent farmers; wild pigs aerial shot on Cape York; strident calls for flying foxes to be exterminated, while politicians draw the line at killing them but are going to attempt to relocate, even though there is no evidence some flying foxes wont die of stress; thousands of taxpayer dollars spent by the Feds and the Queensland governments trying to promote and restart the export of kangaroo meat to Russia and China, so more kangaroos can be killed.

Supported by the ACT Greens, hundreds of kangaroos and their babies are killed in Canberra Parks for no good reason; thousands of native birds are shot at airports around Australia so they wont hit an aircraft; hundreds of koalas killed by the logging Industry and on the roads; permits handed out to Victorian and SA farmers to kill wombats; thousands of small native species killed by landclearing for development across Australia; rare turtles and dugong killed by indigenous hunters; the Fraser Isand dingoes killed because they might look sideways at a tourist, hundreds of corellas shot and poisoned in South Australia..........where and when does the killing stop? How do we get through to the politicians that can't or won't control the bureacrats they employ? Do we have to wait until its too late for those species? Like Climate Change, do we have to wait until it's irreversible before governments will take any realistic action? Why can't they take some action now on protecting our native and other wild species before its too late? Take the wild camels...some bureacrat decides there are over a million wild camels in outback Australia, but doesnt tell us how he counted them. So they spend over $200,000 and cruelly kill a few hundred...what difference does that make? Does it all stop when there are no wild animals left? WPAA


Boxing Kangaroos

UFC welterweight boxing champion Thiago Alves has joined PETA in pressuring the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to close shows that force kangaroos to box. PETA has sent a complaint to the Florida State Boxing Commission and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation urging officials to intervene to stop the "Rocky Show Circus," which is currently traveling through Florida. In the show, exhibitor Javier Martinez dresses up a kangaroo named Rocky and taunts him into fighting back. At least two kangaroos used in Martinez's boxing act have died while touring with a circus, including one who died from complications of a deadly bacterial disease called "lumpy jaw" while traveling with UniverSoul Circus. Lumpy jaw can result from severe crowding, poor hygiene, poor diet, and stressful conditions. *Network Item

Early Bird?

Archaeopteryx, the famous icon of evolution and supposedly the planet's oldest, most primitive bird, might not have been a bird after all. The controversial claim, if confirmed, is something of a bombshell for researchers, who have viewed the evolution of birds and feathered flight through the lens of the species since it was discovered 150 years ago. The finding leaves palaeontologists in the awkward position of having to identify another creature as the oldest and original avian on which to base the story of birdlife. Archaeopteryx was discovered in 1861, just two years after Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species. The spectacular fossils of an animal with the feathered wings of a bird, but the teeth and tail of a dinosaur, caused an immediate sensation in Victorian England.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/world/science/reputation-as-earliest-bird-may-not-have-the-feathers-to-fly-20110728-1i2am.html#ixzz1TRGuhCc6


The Japanese Government is formally weighing up its whaling fleet's Antarctic future - including for the first time an option to not return south. A Fisheries Agency of Japan review committee has taken evidence on all options, with most wanting to continue despite conservationist harassment, the well-informed newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun said. It said a minority opinion of the committee acknowledged that, after 25 years, Japan had failed to gain international support for the research, and proposed that it be scaled down or halted. The review committee was set up in April to take expert opinion on whether Japan should continue whaling in the Antarctic, Yomiuri said. For the first time last season, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's three ships were able to outlast the whalers. With the key factory ship Nisshin Maru unable to break free of pursuit, the whalers managed to catch only 172 whales from a self-awarded quota of up to 985. *Brisbane Times
Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/environment/whale-watch/japan-weighs-whalers-future-20110728-1i1bp.html#ixzz1TRIHvVwf

Rock Wallabies

Six rare rock wallabies taken from the far north-west of South Australia as joeys have returned home to the APY Lands. A project aimed at saving the endangered species has brought together Anangu people with government agencies, zoos staff and university students. They transferred more than 20 black-flanked rock wallaby joeys, or warru, into the pouches of surrogate yellow-footed rock wallabies. Monarto Zoo staff kept them safe until adulthood and six of the wallabies have now been returned to the APY Lands and released into a 100-hectare predator-proof enclosure. Matt Ward from the Environment Department said there was more to the project than saving the warru. "It's also very much about employing Anangu in land management work here on the APY Lands and traditional owners of the land," he said. One of five captive-bred warru released in March died, with experts blaming stress it faced. It is thought there are now fewer than 200 of the marsupials left in South Australia, due to predators such as feral cats and foxes. *ABC

Rare Possums Found

Scientists have found the only known population of scaly tailed possums in the east Kimberley almost 100 years since the last reported sighting in the area. Researchers led by Monash University ecologist Sean Doody were using infrared cameras to look for northern quolls as part of cane toad research when they snapped the possums at Emma Gorge, near Kununurra. The small marsupials, which live on steep rocky escarpments, were previously thought to be found only in pockets of the north-west Kimberley. The find extends their range several hundred kilometres. Dr Doody said the last reported sighting in the east Kimberley was in 1919 near Warmun. The find was exciting, especially with mammal populations declining across tropical Australia. *WA news

Paypal Okay Now

Because we collected a considerable amount of online funding for flood-affected wildlife carers in Febuary and March, and thinking in paranoia that we were bad guys, Paypal decided to freeze our Paypal account. After much difficulty, and after sending them dozens of documents to prove who we are, they have re-opened our Paypal account. We are very sorry for the inconvenience, so please feel free to make a donation or join WPAA from our website at http://www.wildlifeprotectaust.org.au All donations to WPAA hit the ground running, unlike many groups, no administration or salary costs etc. are deducted from donations, all our donations go to campaigns to protect our diminishing wildlife. *WPAA

Fish Kill

Thousands of dead fish have washed up along 8km of SA's Lake Alexandrina's shore. With the health of the River Murray and Lower Lake system at its best in years, the mass "fish kill" is a mystery. Point Sturt resident Dot Ratcliffe said she was alarmed to find the problem when she went kayaking on the lake yesterday morning. "I saw them (extending) about 400m out in to the lake," she said. "It's terribly upsetting, very distressing. There are thousands of fish washed up, something you do not want to see. I have been living here for 10 years and never seen anything like this." Bio-security aquatic pest manager Vic Neverauskas said Primary Industries would investigate the circumstances of the fish deaths as soon as possible. Most of the fish appear to be bony bream. "There was a "fish kill" in Milang two weeks ago associated with cold nights," he said. "It is a natural phenomenon for bony bream. It's normal for this to happen in July and August. Until we can get someone on the ground to verify the species, which will be as soon as practical, we are unable to make further comment." Ms Ratcliffe said friends told her they had walked from their yacht to the shoreline and were "literally walking on dead fish on the sand". "The smell is terrible. It's a tragedy," she said. Lower Lakes fisherman Henry Jones said it might be a natural occurrence that kills mainly bony bream after a long flood. "There is a fungus that grows in their gills and around the body," he said. * Adelaide Now

Freshwater Fish Going

A third of the world's freshwater fish species are at risk of being wiped out, scientists have revealed. Over-fishing, pollution and construction have pushed many to the brink of extinction. About 36 per cent of 5,685 species studied by the International Union for Conservation of Nature are said to be critically endangered Among them are types of sturgeon that produce the world's most expensive caviar. Dr William Darwall of IUCN said: "Freshwater ecosystems are among the world's most threatened. "Sadly, it is not going to get better, as human need for fresh water, power and food continues to grow." Species in Britain at risk of extinction include the European eel, Shetland charr and the salmon-like gwyniad - found in just one Welsh lake. *Sun


An environmental group wants to set up a turtle rehabilitation centre in Gladstone in central Queensland due to a high number of deaths in the past few months. Sea Turtle Foundation director Tim Harvey says he is planning to approach liquefied natural gas (LNG) companies to fund a centre in the city because none exists. There have been about 60 reported turtle deaths near Gladstone since January this year. Mr Harvey says he believes the facility would go some way in saving the marine species. "At the moment anybody who finds a turtle and needs to get it to a rehab centre would have to take it down to Brisbane or the Gold Coast to actually get that done and that's a long way away," he said. "If we could get a rehab centre going here in Gladstone, it would be a fantastic thing for the area because it's a huge area for turtles. "Turtles would be brought in and they'd be kept in big tanks and then monitored by vets, checked over by vets. "Turtles that are too poor, or too malnourished or too diseased to recover would be euthanased. "But the rest would actually be kept in tanks, fed squid, lettuce or whatever to keep them going and then released back into the water - sometimes it can take six months." *ABC

Meanwhile a rare Pacific Black Green Sea Turtle has been admitted to Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, only the second black green sea turtle ever to be treated at the Hospital. Named Lefty, because she is missing a flipper, she is a rare subspecies of the more common green sea turtle. The rare turtle was found floating in Pumicestone Passage at Bribie Island. A build up of internal gases caused her to float, and she may have some infections in her blood. No further complications have been found as yet. Over 70 marine turtles have been admitted to Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital so far this year. *Network Item


A Victorian population of koalas is being threatened by logging, a Senate inquiry has heard. Friends of the Earth is calling for the Strzelecki koala to be recognised as a threatened species because its natural food source is being eroded. Land use researcher Anthony Amis from Friends of the Earth says mountain ash trees felled in the Strzelecki Ranges in South Gippsland are being replaced by shining gums in plantation areas after harvest. "Mountain ash is a koala feed source, shining gum is not," Mr Amis told the hearing today. A significant number of koalas in the region also died in the Black Saturday bushfires and many of the animals continued to suffer stress-related conditions from the fires, the inquiry heard. "It is probably beyond the ability of our environment groups to pull together the best science in Australia to save this animal," Friends of the Earth said in its submission to the inquiry. "It would probably require several hundred thousand dollars and a dedicated team to properly understand what is happening on the ground with this animal." The Senate Standing Committees on Environment and Communications is examining the status, health and sustainability of Australia's koala population.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/environment/conservation/koalas-suffering-from-logging-inquiry-20110801-1i7xb.html#ixzz1ToWn4h6L

Become a Wildlife Warrior

By making a one-off donation or joining our monthly giving program you can become part of a global wildlife force that is working hard to preserve our natural environment. Monthly Giving Program; Sign up to become a regular giver for wildlife conservation! Donations start from as little as $2.50 a week and can go to helping our native wildlife at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital. Nearly 100 wildlife emergency calls are received every day at the Hospital, Up to 30 different species are admitted to the hospital every day, Currently around 80 koalas undergoing treatment, Approximately 70% of patients are victims of car accidents or domestic pet attacks, The cost to treat one animal ranges from $100 to thousands of dollars To sign up or find out more please visit http://www.wildlifewarriors.org.au


Stoned Wallabies

Some people believe space aliens are responsible for those bizarre patterns found in farmland known as crop circles. Others are now saying the culprits are actually spaced-out critters. Australia grows 50 percent of the world's legal opium, and you might be a bit shocked to learn what it does to the local wildlife. Wallabies have been eating the crops and essentially getting "high as a kite," according to an Australian official who talked to the BBC. The marsupials are eating the poppies that grow on the plants, which are used to make painkillers like morphine. But what they do next is even more bizarre. The hopped-up creatures often walk around in the fields, creating crop circles that initially confused farmers, The Global Post reported. It's not just the wallabies having a good time inflicting damage on the medical crops -- sheep have also been seen tramping on the crops, The Post reported.

In other places, crop circles are hard to explain phenomenon, and some people believe that they're evidence that aliens have visited Earth. The addled behavior of wild wallabies became a topic of discussion during a hearing on poppy field security in the Tasmania state parliament. It turns out the animal kingdom is crawling with its fair share of stoners. Reindeer are said to seek out "magic" mushrooms to escape the reality of long, harsh winters, according to one researcher. The hallucinatory fungi apparently have the same effect on them as they do on humans. In fact, whole books have been written on the subject of animals' drug use. David Linden's book, The Compass of Pleasure recently took a closer look at how animals consume whatever they can get their paws and beaks on in order to get high. *Huffpost Green

Ed Comment; Gotta love the American media!


Kangaroo Industry

Rural lobby group AgForce says the Queensland Government must intervene to save the kangaroo processing industry from collapse. Kangaroo numbers are booming in western Queensland due to the exceptional wet season and the closure of the Russian export market. AgForce spokesman Stephen Tully says the State Government needs to review commercial harvesting to ensure it remains viable. "There's never been a full review or a full, open and accountable review into the industry - it's sort of been an emotional industry," he said. "We think it's time to get over that, put the science on the table. "All the stakeholders have input and that's environmental stakeholders as well and let's sort the industry out." Mr Tully says the processing industry is on the verge of collapse and something needs to change. "The way things are heading, it's not going to be good for graziers and it's not going to be good for kangaroos," he said. "There will not be a kangaroo industry unless things improve dramatically. "We need to look at all parts of it, whether it's the actual official count or how the count goes, how the management occurs." *ABC

Ed Comment; Well, above, that's good news for kangaroos that the Industry may collapse, but meanwhile a recent Moyne Council (Victoria) meeting also decided to support a call from Southern Grampians Council asking for the processing of Kangaroo meat from culled Kangaroos to be given the go ahead. Southern Grampians Mayor Bob Penny has spoken out over the past couple of days about the waste occuring from not being able to use the meat from culled Kangaroos which instead, he claims, is causing all kinds of problems. Well, the culling of kangaroos just to accomodate a few subsistence farmers in Victoria is wrong anyway, they shouldnt be killing them to start with. And claims by the AgForce that this years due to the exceptional wet season has created "booming" numbers of kangaroos is nonsense anyway. A kangaroo joey stays with its Mum for 14 to 15 months, so it's hard to see how kangaroo numbers could "boom" in only a year?

In Australia at present, all eyes remain fixed on the Northern cattle export industry, which is slowly exiting its government imposed limbo. Meanwhile, another of Australia’s unique export industries is languishing – perilously close to permanent demise it would seem, but largely under the radar. Kangaroos after all, are not yet a naturalised part of the Australian diet (although gradually becoming so), and there is no ‘wholesome farming’ image to give a face to those who stand to lose their livelihoods as the trade falters. But it is thousands of professional kangaroo shooters and meat processors across the nation who are watching an industry with a long history, and much promise, slip away. Forces have conspired against the industry it seems, and it is a shame for the people it employs, for the environment, and for farming, that a greater spotlight is not being shone upon it and its plight.
Read more and make comment; http://sl.farmonline.com.au/blogs/paddock-to-planet/roo-trade-hangs-in-balance/2245427.aspx?storypage=0

Diamond Valley residents are calling for private kangaroo culling to be scrapped until an investigation into how permits are distributed is complete. The Department of Sustainability and Environment is conducting a review into its Authority to Control Wildlife permit system, which is expected to take up to a year. Panton Hill Residents Group member Janice Crosswhite said a 599-signature petition was sent to Environment Minister Ryan Smith asking for a moratorium on killing kangaroos until the inquiry finished its work. Ms Crosswhite said the group had concerns after a permit was given to a Panton Hill resident last year to cull kangaroos next to a wildlife haven. “We think it is appropriate to stop any permits being issued while the review takes place,” Ms Crosswhite said. “There will be more applications but we have had 10 years of drought, and the bushfires, so we need kangaroos to restock, not to wipe them out.” Nillumbik spokeswoman Joanne Hammond said the council had expressed concern to the State Government about how kangaroo culling permits were handed out. Mr Ryan’s spokeswoman Lauren Bradley said kangaroo numbers had increased in the area. Ms Bradley said the permit system was regularly reviewed and remained a necessary tool to control wildlife numbers. She said animals, including kangaroos, could damage crops, fences and other property or pose a direct threat to public health. *Diamond Valley Leader

Moyne councillors have backed the Southern Grampians Shire's push to lift a ban on processing legally-culled kangaroos. The state government allows for limited lethal control of kangaroos and other animals through the issuing of "authority to control wildlife" (ATCW) permits. More than 1500 ATCW licences are issued by the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) specifically for kangaroo control across regional Victoria. The permits has a cull cap of 20 kangaroos in any one slaughter session and state legislation prohibits the use of the animals for food processing or being manufactured into leather goods. Southern Grampians Shire mayor Bob Penny said he was pleased Moyne councillors had supported the move the process kangaroo carcasses. He was clear to point out the shire was not advocating a larger cull quota but said the carcasses of slaughtered animals should be put to good use. "It's legal for shooters to cull kangaroos but once they are destroyed, it's against the law to process them," Cr Penny said.

"The shire came to the conclusion that this practice was a waste of a natural resource when the carcasses could be processed for human or animal consumption as well as leather goods. "It's just a waste to leave dead kangaroos rotting in paddocks and bushland." Moyne Shire sustainable development director Oliver Moles said the Southern Grampians Shire had identified an inconsistency in wildlife control which had been seen as nonsensical by landholders. He said the shire were not encouraging more culls but promoting useful processing of kangaroo carcasses. "It seems illogical that kangaroo carcasses are just left to rot in paddocks when the carcasses can be put to some form of use," Mr Moles. "Rotting kangaroos are seen by many as being offensive both aesthetically and the odour can be repellant. "There might be a market for human consumption and there seems to be a lot of sense in using something that is otherwise wasted." Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh's office was contacted by The Standard for comment but did not return calls. *Warnabool Leader


Small Birds

Australia’s small birds need our help. The Wildlife Preservation Society of Australia and the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife want you to know that you can help small birds to breed and flourish in Narromine. All you have to do is plant the right plants on National Tree Day on Sunday. “This National Tree Day we’re urging people to provide a haven for small birds by planting shrubs,” Ms Suzanne Medway, President of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Australia said. “Small birds need dense foliage to hide amongst to stay safe from cats, dogs and larger, more aggressive birds. If the right conditions are provided, small birds like Willie wagtails, fairy wrens and yellow robins will come to visit.” According to Ms Medway small birds are lovely to watch and wonderful to have around the garden as they keep insects in check. “Many homeowners and councils have planted trees such as bottlebrush and melaleucas in recent years. Rainbow lorikeets, noisy miners and wattlebirds have all flourished in response to these tree plantings,” Ms Medway said. “Now it’s time to do our bit to help the small birds.”

You too can enjoy wonderful wrens, fancy finches and ravishing robins flittering and fluttering in your backyard. How to attract small birds to your garden: Ask your local nursery for advice on locally native shrubs. Plant shrubs that will grow into dense foliage and give small birds somewhere to hide. Plant shrubs close together in clumps. Provide some water in your garden for birds to drink and bathe in. Invite your neighbours or friends to get involved in shrub planting, and make it a community effort. The more habitat there is around your area for small birds, the more of them you’ll see. Good shrubs for small birds include grevilleas, such as grevillea rosemarinafolia, and hakeas. Prune your shrubs to form dense hedges as small birds love to dart in and out of them. The Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife also supports the planting of shrubs for the benefit of small birds and runs a program called Backyard Buddies. *Narramine News

For more info about making your backyard wildlife friendly visit .. http://www.australian-backyard-wildlife.com


Climate Change

The Florida Keys disappearing by the year 2100? That's the pronouncement from a national environmental group this week, warning that South Florida is among the most vulnerable areas of the country to climate change and sea level rise. The sea is rising, but it’s rising slowly enough so that too few people get alarmed, say climate scientists. It’s a slow march upward 5-10 feet, says all the science, that will happen over the next 100 years or so. "And so we would be utter fools not to attempt to arrest this while we have a fighting chance,” said University of Miami scientist John Van Leer, who has been researching climate change since the 1980’s, before almost all his colleagues. So this new warning from the Natural Resources Defense Council, which is a review of more than 75 scientific studies warning us about the future of South Florida, is the same warning he and his colleagues have been raising for years.

So what are the impacts that many scientists have found are already happening in South Florida, in part, because of climate change? - An increase in diseases like dengue fever is already underway - Seafood is becoming less plentiful - Our valuable coral reefs are already dying at alarming rates - Our drinking water supply is becoming infused with seawater intruding on the underground aquifer - We’re seeing more frequent extreme weather events, like heavy rains or wildfires caused by drought, consistent with climate change - Our coastline is eroding at a greater and greater pace especially during storms - Agriculture harvests are more challenged, often leading to increased prices - Stronger hurricanes In recent years, science has lurched toward finding ways to adapt to climate change. But does that mean less scientific research on how to slow climate change? Van Leer says we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as prepare for rising seas. "We have to do both things,” he said. “I mean, how will you live in a high rise condo when the feet of the high rise are in seawater?"

Van Leer says new buyers of coastal property will be able to complete their mortgage payoffs. But not long after that, re-selling may become more difficult as future buyers begin to hedge their bets fearing increasing difficulty in re-selling to others. The University of Miami’s own maps predicting future sea level rise show most of South Florida under water within 100 years, including the Florida Keys. Such predictions are incredibly difficult, Van Leer says, so there is a wide range between worst case scenario and best case scenario. However, as more science research is done around the world, the pace shows climate change worsening at an accelerated rate. So what will the next generation say about present day inaction? "Their reaction would be 'I can't believe you guys didn't take it seriously when you had the chance,’" Van Leer said. Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe Counties formed an innovative climate change alliance focusing on preparing for these challenges: moving flood gates and pumps, figuring out which roads will be inundated first, protecting drinking water wells for as long as possible, etc. The NRDC report and others like it say slowing climate change must come at all levels of government – especially local - as well as from companies and individuals. To see the report: http://www.nrdc.org/water/thirstyforanswers.asp.


New Wildlife Software

Ecologists monitoring the effects of climate change will soon be able to make use of new software to dramatically cut the time and cost spent identifying wildlife species. Australian ecologists seeking to establish the presence or absence of wildlife, such as birds, to take the temperature of the changing environment traditionally spend days in isolated regions watching and listening for species. A team at Queensland University of Technology has developed automated acoustic sensors placed in the bush to record environmental sounds, which are then transmitted to an online digital library. The researchers have developed software to filter the audio and isolate the sounds made by species amid the cacophony. Team member and PhD student Jason Wimmer said the aim was to give ecologists tools to monitor larger areas over longer periods of time. "So they can observe any changes that may be occurring in the environment or changes in species composition and that might be an early warning or raise alarm bells about some changes that are occurring," he said. "Birds and frogs, which are quite vocal species, are considered good indicators of the health of the environment."

The audio segments identified by the software are then posted online for bird-watching experts to help name. The approach has seen up to three times as many species detected than were found by traditional surveys with people in the field. Mr Wimmer said the "citizen science" approach meant the cost of analysing data could be significantly reduced. "It is extremely hard to totally automate the analysis of large volumes of data because the environment has all kinds of noise going on -- wind, rain, trucks and cars." But he said a fully automated approach was still some way off because of regional variation in bird calls. Mr Wimmer, from the faculty of science and technology, said the data was recorded using inexpensive MP3 recorders and could be uploaded via the 3G network. The MP3 recorder was in a watertight box out in the field and used a 32-gigabyte SD card, which equated to about 1.5 gig a day. The 3G device, which was powered by a solar panel, used a mobile phone as well as a pre-amplifier and an external microphone.

"The advantage of these 3G sensors is that they can stay in the field long after the observer has packed up and gone home. "They are still there recording everything that is going on in the environment." Mr Wimmer said. He said the 3G sensors were being used by an indigenous community on Groote Eylandt, in the Gulf of Carpentaria in northeastern Australia, protect native species such as the quoll. "We have deployed a whole heap of these 3G sensors up there that act as a warning system so they are constantly turned on and scan the recordings for cane toads," Mr Wimmer said. He said the plan was to expand the technology in every regional ecosystem across the country. * Australian


Wildlife Trade

Last week, an Iranian man was stopped by customs officials trying to smuggle 50 live snakes on to a plane in Bangkok, hidden in rolled-up socks in his hand luggage. The "snakes on a plane" headlines have once again focused attention on Thailand as an international hub for the illegal trade in wildlife, a trade worth a staggering £6bn a year. The arrest is the latest in a number of high-profile detentions at the Thai airport. However, local environmental organisations have expressed frustration that police enforcement remains inadequate to tackle a trade that is decimating local ecosystems, hastening the extinction of scores of endangered animals and plundering the resources of developing countries for profits abroad. In May, a passenger bound for Dubai was found to have a gibbon, an Asiatic black bear cub, a marmoset and four baby leopards in his carry-on baggage. Having got through the security checks he was reportedly only stopped after one of the leopards made a "muffled cry" at the departure gate. Other recent seizures also include a drugged tiger cub hidden among stuffed toy animals and three suitcases full of 200 live animals – containing everything from endangered tortoises to pythons, boa constrictors and a parrot.

While superficially promising, these headline arrests actually reveal a deeper problem with law enforcement. The smugglers involved in these cases had not engaged in shadowy criminal networks to procure their animals, they had simply gone shopping in Bangkok's sprawling outdoor Chatuchak market. One local environmental organisation is so frustrated by this state of affairs that it has published an open letter questioning how "wildlife can be openly sold every weekend" just down the road from the offices of the Thai authorities who regulate the illegal trade. With rare native creatures, a large international airport and long land borders with its south-east Asian neighbours, Thailand is an attractive hub for both the import and export of rare animals. Live lizards, snakes and big mammals are increasingly in demand in the Middle East as exotic pets, while tiger bones and bear gall bladders are exported to China, Hong Kong and Singapore for use in Chinese medicine. Acres, which campaigns to stop the illegal wildlife trade, recently ran an undercover operation in Singapore which found tiger parts for sale at just under half of all jewellery and antiques shops visited. The organisation runs public awareness campaigns to challenge such cultural traditions – something that is essential in tackling the demand side of the trade.

Thailand has also become a major importer in the illegal ivory trade, mostly from Africa. Ivory from domestic Thai elephants can be sold legally – so illegal ivory is taken to Thailand to be "laundered" into the legal domestic market. Thai customs have seized over 8.5 tons of ivory since 2009 – equating to more than 1,000 elephant tusks. Traffic, the global wildlife trade monitoring network, explains that Thailand now hosts the world's largest unregulated domestic ivory market, and argues that "Thailand needs to close [this] domestic ivory loophole once and for all". Corruption and insufficient sentencing deterrents also create regulation difficulties. Freeland Foundation, an international conservation and human rights organisation based in Bangkok, has described official corruption as the biggest problem that it faces in tackling the trade. A recent example is the Dubai-bound passenger arrested with the four baby leopards. Immediately after his detention the police reported they had been politically pressured to not charge him. The smuggler's client was allegedly a Dubai prince with connections to influential Thai politicians. He was released on bail and promptly escaped the country. Freeland Foundation director Steven Galster remarked: "Over the past six years we've seen only one trafficker go to prison. And that was because the prosecutor [...] happened to be an animal lover." While police may make low-level arrests, those ultimately controlling the trade have repeatedly gone unpunished.

A draft law to increase trafficking sentences was proposed eight years ago – but has still not passed. The Thai politician and human rights and environment activist Kraisak Choonhavan admits that previously, with "so many urgent laws to consider, something like [a new] wildlife law just never saw the light of day". However, with the recent elections providing a large democratic mandate and signalling an end to the political instability of recent years, there is real potential for a new political emphasis on tackling the illegal trade in wildlife. Without this political will, Thailand and south-east Asia risk a massive and irreversible loss of biodiversity as natural resources continue to be plundered overseas. * Network Item


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"Create a Butterfly Haven in Your Own Backyard!"


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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


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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.au Your email address is safe with us and is kept confidential.
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