Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wildlfie Bytes 9/9/11

Editorial; No Wildlife Bytes next week as we will be away.

Magpie to be Shot by Police

Police have been directed to shoot a magpie responsible for an attack on a schoolgirl. The magpie struck the girl on her head last week when she was in a nature corridor at Tweed Heads about 100km south of Brisbane. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services confirmed they gave the direction to police on Friday - a decision that satisifed the girl's father. Murwillumbah-based ranger Lance Tarvey said the father provided the department with enough evidence to warrant the magpie being destroyed. "The bird actually struck his daughter, but most birds don't actually strike. We try and work our way through and with most birds you can manage. There's many more aggressive magpies that we deal with that don't get to this point,'' he said. Magpies are protected, meaning it is illegal to kill them unless condoned by authorities. *SMH
Ed comment; Another native animal bites the dust, because its easier to kill them than live with them. And Micheal Beatty from the QRSPCA supported the kill, saying "sometimes these things are necessary......" However, public outrage has caused the Police to say they are not about shooting magpies, and Qld DERM have placed signs in the Park saying "beware of swooping birds". So far the magpie is safe.


A giant saltwater crocodile weighing more than a tonne has been captured in a remote southern Philippine village following a series of attacks on humans and animals, officials said. Measuring 6.4m (21ft) and weighing 1,075kg (2,370lb), it is the biggest to be caught alive in the Philippines in recent years. It may also be the biggest specimen ever captured, officials said. Saltwater crocodiles can live for more than 100 years and grow to 23ft (7m). Josefina de Leon, wildlife division chief of the environment ministry's protected areas and wildlife bureau, said it was likely to be the biggest crocodile ever captured. "Based on existing records, the largest that had been captured previously was 5.48m (18ft) long," she told AFP. "This is the biggest animal that I've handled in 20 years of trapping." The hunt for the crocodile in the village of Bunawan began in mid-August and it took dozens of local men to secure its capture on Saturday. But crocodile hunter Rollie Sumiller, who led the hunt, said this reptile may not be the killer they have been looking for after at least one attack on a human was reported in the area. "We're not really sure if this is the man-eater, because there have been other sightings of other crocodiles in the area," he told AFP. The captured croc will now become the main attraction at a planned nature park in the area.
Saltwater crocodiles; Also known as the estuarine crocodile, it is the world's largest living croc It is capable of killing any animal or human that strays into its territory. Body length: usually 4.2m-4.8m (13.8ft-15.8ft), although specimens of over 7m (23ft) have been recorded. Weight: Male generally 408-520kg (900lb-1,140lb), but have been known to exceed 1,000kg (2,204lb). Life expectancy: They can live for more than 100 years. *BBC News

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

Africa in Queensland

Crikey! It's as wild as life gets at Australia Zoo's new open-range exhibit - Africa! Opening these school holidays (17 September) you can see the only African multi species exhibit in Queensland. Step on board the FREE* African Safari Shuttle and explore the wide open plains of the African savannah and see exotic animals such as Giraffe, Rhino and Zebra interacting together - and marvel at our gorgeous Cheetah as they walk by. Taking visitors on a journey to the African Savannah, we will showcase the only active breeding group of Rhinos in Queensland - our first Rhino calf, Savannah, was born at Australia Zoo in April. Cheeky Savannah is no doubt the star attraction of Africa as she loves to run, jump and play with some of our other adult Southern White Rhinos and is well known for frolicking with her mum and running at top speed around the new exhibit!
Africa is right here in your own back yard. So come on - go WILD with us! Check out

Fraser Island

Jennifer Parkhurst has put together the following youtube presentations which we are sure you will find very informative.

Dingo slideshow:

Video made by Max:

Marine debris:

Marine debris:

Kangaroo Trade

Federal Trade Minister Craig Emerson says a deal to reopen the kangaroo meat trade to Russia is on the table. Russia banned kangaroo meat imports in mid-2009, saying it was concerned about contamination. During the Cairns Group meeting in Canada this week, Dr Emerson will meet the Russian Agriculture minister to discuss issues including the roo meat trade and Russia's impending membership of the World Trade Organisation. Dr Emerson says Russia has asked Australia to grant it 'market economy status' before it joins the WTO, which Australia will consider if Russia opens up its markets to kangaroo meat. "I have had discussions with the minister from Russia, we'll have further discussions this week," Dr Emerson said. "We've kind of agreed in principle and we've just got to make sure that we keep driving that through together." The Cairns Group includes 19 agricultural exporting countries committed to free trade, including Brazil, Malaysia, Chile, Argentina and Australia. *ABC


A South African game reserve has developed a treatment for rhino horns that is safe for the animals but causes convulsions and headaches to people who consume them, a wildlife group says. The potion is a mixture of drugs used to kill parasites on the rhinos, and includes a dye that turns even finely ground horns neon pink when seen by airport scanners, Rhino and Lion Reserve spokeswoman Lorinda Hern told national news agency SAPA. "The chemicals have the dual threat of keeping away both natural and human parasites ... and last for three to four years," she said. The treatment has been tested on rhinos at the park outside Johannesburg, she said. "A permanent solution would be to eliminate the demand for rhino horn altogether," Ms Hern said. Since the beginning of the year 279 rhinos had been killed for their horns at parks across the country, according to the national parks agency. Last month, the ministry of environmental affairs said it was investigating dehorning rhinos and stopping legal trophy hunts to fight poaching, which has seen the army being deployed to the Kruger National Park. Poaching has soared from just 13 cases in 2007, an increase powered by demand for rhino horns in Asian traditional medicine. "Education would go a long way towards teaching consumers that rhino horn contains no nutritional or medicinal value," she said. * AFP

Threatened Species

Stronger measures to protect endangered flora and fauna were called for yesterday on the anniversary of the demise of one of Tasmania's most recognisable species. It was National Threatened Species Day, first held in 1996 to commemorate the death of the last known thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger. Thylacines were hunted to extinction in the 1930s by farmers and bounty hunters but it was in captivity that the last known specimen died 75 years ago yesterday. The tiger, known commonly as Benjamin, died at Hobart's old Beaumaris Zoo. The anniversary of Benjamin's death prompted warnings from experts and advocates about how Tasmania dealt with threatened species. And it was on the site of Beaumaris Zoo where Benjamin died that hundreds of Tasmanians gathered yesterday to commemorate the extinct species. Naturalist and author John Dengate said more than 54 native Australian species had been wiped off the map, with more than 500 still endangered today. "Orange-bellied parrots are Tasmania's most endangered species and there are fewer than 200 left," he said. Landsdowne Crescent Primary School student Lousie Gillies, 11, said Tasmanians needed to meet the responsibility head on. She read a passionate poem she wrote about the demise of the thylacine, which she had researched heavily in school and in her own time. "We have already lost enough of our wildlife and it is so important that Tasmanians accept the responsibility of protecting all our surviving species," she said. Hobart City Council Alderman Jeff Briscoe, who organised yesterday's event, said the Beaumaris Zoo site was perfect for an education and protection centre, which could be called Thylacine Park. *Mercury

Unsustainable Fishing

A team of leading marine scientists from around the world is recommending an end to most commercial fishing in the deep sea, the Earth's largest ecosystem. Instead, they recommend fishing in more productive waters nearer to consumers. In a comprehensive analysis published online this week in the journal Marine Policy, marine ecologists, fisheries biologists, economists, mathematicians and international policy experts show that, with rare exceptions, deep-sea fisheries are unsustainable. The "Sustainability of deep-sea fisheries" study, funded mainly by the Lenfest Ocean Program, comes just before the UN decides whether to continue allowing deep-sea fishing in international waters, which the UN calls "high seas." *Read more;

Flyinf Foxes

The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) says tree branches in Gayndah's CBD, south-west of Bundaberg in the state's south, will start being lopped to try to move a large colony of flying foxes. Clive Cook from the Conservation Strategy Plan says they will start work with the North Burnett Regional Council from today to remove thousands of bats from the township. He says numbers have halved with many bats flying north for the summer. "If they've moved out of the tree and there's no flying foxes present, there's no reason why lopping or trimming of the trees couldn't take place," he said. "We are working with council to determine which trees they can get a start on." *ABC

Aboriginal Elders to Challenge Kangaroo Meat Industry

Last month, an alliance of Aboriginal elders announced their intention to bring a constitutional law challenge against Australia’s kangaroo industry. The announcement follows efforts by the Federal Government to export kangaroo meat to China and Russia. If eating kangaroos is good for Australia, why oppose it? The Australian Alliance for Native Animals Survival (AAFNAS) has written letters to the Chinese and Russian governments expressing their strong opposition to the proposed export of kangaroo meat to those countries. So why would Aboriginal elders oppose the kangaroo industry and the export of kangaroo meat? After all, Aboriginal Australians have been eating kangaroos for thousands of years. Moreover, the introduction of cattle and sheep for meat has caused irreparable damage to the Australian landscape. Wouldn’t it would be a good thing if we all started eating kangaroos? The AAFNAS sees things differently.

Uncle Eric Craigie, president of the AAFNAS, was quoted in the Fairfax media saying: “We have harvested animals but we have only ever taken what we needed. We are not into mass slaughter.” Uncle Eric – whose personal totem is the kangaroo – has pointed out that until now Aboriginal people have always focused on land rights. But Aboriginal people “have never ever spoken up for the animals in this country”. AAFNAS is changing that. It has established itself as “a group of First Peoples with representatives from all over Australia”. AAFNAS is “an independent community-based educational association that … advocates for animals and cares for country”. Too many, and too much cruelty. So what’s the big deal over the kangaroo industry?

The industry represents the largest commercial slaughter of land-based wildlife in the world, with around 3 million adult kangaroos and 855,000 joeys killed every year. By contrast, Aboriginal people only killed kangaroos on a subsistence basis for their family and tribe. The kangaroos are wild (not farmed) and are hunted at night by professional, licensed shooters in remote parts of Australia’s rangelands. The industry is regulated by a National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos (Commercial Purposes) – known as the “Code”. Yet there is virtually no monitoring of killing in the field. Given the field conditions of the killing – it happens in extremely remote locations – it would be virtually impossible to do so. The Code itself legalises cruelty to kangaroos, particularly with regard to joeys. The Code treats them as a waste product of the industry. If a female kangaroo is killed, the shooter is required to kill any dependent young. This may include pouch young and young “at foot”. Both are dependent on their mother for survival.

The Code’s recommended method for killing furred pouch young is euthanasia by a single “forceful blow to the base of the skull sufficient to destroy the functional capacity of the brain”. Shooters are legally able to crush the heads of joeys with a steel water pipe or even the towbar of a vehicle. Such practices would be considered clear breaches of anti-cruelty laws if committed against a range of other animals. The Australian Wildlife Protection Council has compared the cruelty suffered by these joeys to that experienced by Canadian harp seals and by whales. Australia has condemned the cruelty inflicted upon whales by the whaling industry, yet has failed to critically examine the cruelty inflicted by its own kangaroo industry.

Concerns about cleanliness In spite of this cruelty, Australia is trying to export kangaroo meat into Russia and China, lured by the attraction of growing markets and, of course, profits. Russia previously bought 70% of all kangaroo meat exported from Australia yet suspended imports in August 2009. Russia cited dangerous levels of salmonella and E. coli in kangaroo meat. Former NSW chief food inspector, Desmond Sibraa, blamed a lack of industry care in adhering to Australian standards: “There is a big difference between animals slaughtered in an abattoir with an inspector present, and a kangaroo shot in the bush with dust and blowflies.” The industry itself has shrunk considerably over the past few years. In 2005, the kangaroo industry estimated its worth to the Australian economy at $200 million, providing approximately 4000 jobs. However, recent, low revenues of $50 million for 2008/2009 (for meat, pet food and skins) suggest that this estimate is currently over-valued. It is not yet clear on what grounds the AAFNAS will challenge the kangaroo industry. However they are likely to draw upon the fact that Australian governments have failed to consult Aboriginal people about what happens to kangaroos. * Keely Boom, The Conversation