Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wildlife Bytes 9/12/11

Coal Seam Gas

The scale and speed of its growth has been nothing short of astonishing: billions of dollars have poured into regional areas; new jobs have been created; state and national coffers have swelled; export contracts have been signed and sealed; massive liquefied natural gas facilities have been approved for construction at regional ports. Farmers fear they are losing control of their land. Miners and some politicians say coal seam gas offers a much greener energy choice. Environmentalists and other politicians have cast doubt on those claims. The ABC's data journalism project has pulled together information from dozens of sources to provide an insight into the promise and the dangers inherent in the coal seam gas rush.
It is estimated there will be 40,000 coal seam gas wells in Australia, and it is believed the Industry will have a huge and devastating impact on wildlife habitat.....for many reasons.
See the map, and get more info........

Some of the issues surrounding CSG are most alarming, as the major political parties throw their support unconditionally behind it. Breaches of conditions are ignored; protestor Drew Hutton, calmly sitting on the ground during a"lock-the-gate" campaign, is arrested and taken away in handcuffs; the arresting officer taken to the site in a mining company vehicle; Fed. Environment Minister Tony Broke (sorry, Tony Burke) sets up an environmental "oversight" advisory committee consisting of mining experts; Gladestone Harbor destroyed, and Curtis Island, which should have been National Park, targeted for more CSG loading facilities. Chinese, American, and British multinationals are buying up farms to convert to coal and CSG mines. Huge areas of Queensland and NSW are to be moonscaped, and the ground water polluted. A coal seam gas site in north-central New South Wales is already discharging water with high levels of ammonia into the Murray-Darling river system. The major political Parties all without reserve support the CSG Industry because of the money. It was interesting that at Drew Huttons trial in Dalby Court (not coverd by the media) supporters present included Larissa Waters and Bob Brown, from the Greens, Bob Katter, and someone from the Queensland party. Noone from the major Parties turned up. We should all be very worried. * WPAA


Japan's whaling fleet has left its home port for another turbulent season in the Southern Ocean, this year courtesy of extra money from the nation's earthquake recovery fund. Three vessels have set sail from the port of Ishinomaki, in western Japan, with a mission to catch 900 whales over the next three months. The Japanese fleet will have beefed-up security this year after its last season was cut short by the Sea Shepherd anti-whaling group. The fleet did not get anywhere near its target last season and Sea Shepherd is hoping for a repeat performance. But there is anger in Japan and elsewhere this year about the source of new funds for the trip. The Japan Fisheries Agency says the trip's use of $28 million from the earthquake recovery fund is legitimate, because one of the towns devastated by the March earthquake and tsunami was a whaling port. Greenpeace Japan executive director Junichi Sato says it is a massive stretch to link whaling to the earthquake. "It's not related to the recovery at all," he said. "It is used to cover the deaths of the whaling program because the whaling program itself has been suffering from big financial problems." Three Sea Shepherd vessels are preparing to depart from Albany and Hobart in the next 10 days to disrupt the whaling. The group's founder, Paul Watson, says a lot of people should be angry that recovery money is going to whaling. "I know there's a lot of angry people who said 'look, I didn't send my money to help the victims of the tsunami only to have you use it to go down and kill some whales'," he said. *ABC
Read more


A giant carnivorous albino snail has been found living in New Zealand bushland. A group of trampers stumbled across the white Powelliphanta - only the second recorded - during a trip though the Kahurangi National Park at the tip of the South Island. "Our group had seen three or four snails already that morning as it had rained and they'd come out in the wet conditions," said hiker Bill Brough, of Motueka. "Then I saw the white snail and went wow! We were excited to see it, knowing how extraordinary it was." Powelliphanta snails are found only in New Zealand and are the giants of the snail world. They are carnivores, with their favourite prey being earthworms. They also eat slugs. Photos taken by the Waimea Tramping Club show the Powelliphanta hochstetteri hochstetteri had a characteristic golden brown-spiralled shell but a body that was glowing white rather than the usual deep black colour. Department of Conservation Powelliphanta expert Kath Walker says in more than 30 years studying the native snails it is only the second albino she has seen. *Age
Read more, see photoes:

Development and Wildlife

Endangered animals would be moved from boom housing suburbs to a safe haven, under a plan to keep more land for housing. Property developers say that "frog and bandicoot nirvana" could be created for the species while ensuring that enough land was available to build homes, schools and playgrounds. The Herald Sun revealed last week that draft measures to protect the growling grass frog could stop up to 66,000 houses being built and prevent about $2.6 billion in development. Special no-go zones in growth corridors would be set aside for habitats used by the frog and for other species like the southern brown bandicoot. But Property Council of Australia state CEO Jennifer Cunich said yesterday the State Government plans would see 4400 ha of potential housing land locked up, based largely on questionable science and preconceived outcomes. Ms Cunich said that in the case of the frog, a better option was to keep only high-value habitats in growth areas and to set up alternative locations for frogs outside the urban growth boundary. "Why are we restricting opportunities for our future communities when we could be creating frog and bandicoot nirvana outside the boundary," she said. *Herald Sun
Read more;

Wildlife Trafficking

Officials have seized nearly 50 native reptiles being held at a remote property in south-western New South Wales. A tip-off led police and investigators from the state's Office of Environment and heritage to the house at Oxley, near Hay. In a bedroom of the house they found 34 shingleback lizards, five blue-tongue lizards, five eastern bearded dragons and two geckos. National Parks and Wildlife western region director Mark Peacock says the animals were in poor heath. "The animals were found with no food or water and no cages to protect them from each other," Mr Peacock said. "Many had been defecated on by other reptiles in the room." The animals were assessed and treated by a vet at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo. Officials also recovered a sand goanna lizard and lace monitor lizard from a home at nearby Maude. Mr Peacock says it is possible charges will be laid over the haul. "Intelligence received by investigators is that Australian native reptiles are highly sought after by overseas traders," he said. *ABC

Elephant Death

A 25-year-old Australian woman has died after being mauled by a pygmy elephant in a remote wildlife park on Borneo island in Malaysia. The woman, who has been identified as Sydney-based veterinarian Jenna O'Grady Donley by Malaysian newspaper The Star, was trekking with a friend and a local guide in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Sabah state when the group were attacked by the rare pygmy elephant yesterday. While the guide and the other woman managed to get away, the elephant's tusk pierced Ms Donley's body and she died instantly, the state wildlife department director Laurentius Ambu told AFP. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) confirmed that a 25-year-old from NSW had died in Malaysia and that her death was believed to be the result of an elephant attack. *The Australian

No Wildlife Care Facility for Fraser Island

The Queensland Environment Minister Vicky Darling has refused a request by SFID to establish a Wildlife Care Facility on Fraser Island, saying the Rangers on the Island are welltrained and capable of handling any wildlife issues. * Network Item

GoldenBacked Rats

It was once so common it was considered a pest, found running through the rooftops of many houses in Broome. But in a narrow, rainforest-filled gorge, 350 kilometres from the West Australian pearling capital, ecologist Katherine Tuft has had no luck catching a golden-backed tree rat. And then, as she inspects the fifth cage she placed out the night before, Dr Tuft finds what she is looking for. ''These guys used to be across much of northern Australia but they've really contracted back and now the north-west Kimberley is the only place they are,'' Dr Tuft, from the non-profit conservation group the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, said. The unfortunate case of the native rodent is representative of the plight of more than half of northern Australia's small mammals, such as the northern quoll and golden bandicoot, whose ranges have contracted and whose populations have plummeted in the past 20 years. For these species, the north-west Kimberley is the last stand. *Age
Read more:


Nearly 140 greater flamingos were killed in a wildlife sanctuary in western India when they were startled and flew into a string of high tension power lines, a forest official said on Friday. Tens of thousands of flamingos turn the flat, warm marshes of the Khadir region of Gujarat state into a sea of pink every year when they fly in from Siberia to breed. This year, their numbers were unusually high, with about 500,000 birds making the migratory flight from Siberia, district chief conservator of forests DK Sharma said. Sharma said the mass electrocution took place some 12 days ago, when a large flock of flamingos was startled at night by the noise of a vehicle. "The entire flock took off. Many of them flew straight into the electric wires and 139 were killed instantly," he said.
Read more:

New Crab Found

A species of crab found a thousand feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean near Costa Rica lives off the bacteria on its claws – bacteria that it fertilizes by waving them in methane and sulfide released from the seafloor. This "farming" behavior was described for the first time in detail by the scientists this week in the journal PLoS One. This new species of the Yeti crab, called Kiwa puravida, was first discovered in 2006, according to Andrew Thurber, a post-doctoral researcher at Oregon State University and lead author of the study. It is only the second member of the Yeti family of crabs – first discovered in 2005 – and illustrates how little scientists know about the deep ocean environment, the researchers say. * BBC
read More;

Turtles Speared

The Queensland Government has ordered an investigation into reports Indigenous hunters are spearing turtles at Green Island, off Cairns in the far north, while tourists are swimming nearby. The Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators (AMPTO) says it has been sent photographs of the hunters in waters off the island last Friday morning. Traditional owners are allowed to hunt the protected animals under the Native Title Act but many local Aboriginal groups have imposed a moratorium on taking turtles because of their dwindling numbers. AMPTO spokesman Col McKenzie says he is outraged by the photos taken at Green Island. "They were taken at nine o'clock in the morning as boats were arriving with hundreds of tourists on board," he said. "This is not the message that we want to sell to the world about tourism and protection of the Great Barrier Reef. Queensland Environment Minister Vicky Darling says she is concerned by the reports and will ask her department to investigate. "I really believe most traditional owners are very sensitive to this and wouldn't be doing this sort of hunting in front of people," she said. "It's just a matter of finding out who these people are and talking to them about the appropriateness of it. "If it's a poaching case, then that's certainly something that the State Government can investigate. "In this case, having seen these images, I'll be asking my department to investigate this particular instance and see what's going on." *ABC

Kangaroos Killed and Dumped

A scene of six kangaroo carcases skinned, disembowelled and dumped on the side of a Kabra dirt road had wildlife and animal authorities in shock yesterday. Rockhampton region RSPCA inspector Laurie Stageman said it was a barbaric act if done for fun. "Even if it wasn't for fun, they've still breached the Native Conservation Act," Mr Stageman said. However, given the state the carcases were left in, a commercial roo shooter may have been responsible for the killings. Department of Environment and Resource Management spokesman Clive Cook said yesterday that as a native species, kangaroos were protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. "It is an offence to deliberately kill or injure a protected animal unless authorised to do so," he said. "The maximum penalty for deliberately killing a kangaroo without authority is $10,000. "In Queensland, there are currently 44 damage mitigation permits for the take of kangaroos and 1447 commercial wildlife harvesting licences for macropods (kangaroos)." Australian Society for Kangaroos president Nikki Sutterby said she wasn't surprised as the government condoned their killing due to the kangaroo meat industry. "The kangaroo is the largest land-based wildlife slaughter in the world because of the commercial kangaroo industry pet meat which is for profit." *Morning Bulletin

The kangaroo think tank have a really good webpage about the health risks of eating kangaroo meat here

Children in Ballarat East have discovered the remains of a dismembered kangaroo. The four children were riding bikes in bushland in Richards Street when they made the discovery on Sunday morning. The children’s father Glen Strange said a mob of 15 kangaroos were often seen around the area – known to locals as Sandy Banks – and he was shocked to see one had been treated with such brutality. Photos obtained by The Courier show the kangaroo with its legs and tail severed. Mr Strange said it was unclear how to the animal died, but he believed the limbs and tail had been cut with a saw. “I just hope the poor animal was dead before it happened,” Mr Strange said. “Whoever did it needs to be brought to justice or needs some help.” He said his four children, who range between 10 and 15 years old, weren’t too badly affected by the discovery. “They’re okay about it, they’ve grown up with nature and understand these things. It’s a bit perplexing why anybody would mutilate the body like that,” he said. RSPCA Victoria chief inspector Greg Boland said it was not uncommon for foxes to create a misleading picture that limbs had been sawn off. “Across the state we do get the odd similar case and most of the time it’s usually foxes. Of course, I don’t know how the animal actually died, whether it was sick or attacked or what the situation is,” he said. Police are appealing for witnesses or anyone with information to contact them on 5336 6000. *Courier

Climate Change

Pacific islands can expect more extremely hot and wet days, saltier oceans killing off coral reefs and rising sea levels, a new report on climate change reveals. Climate Change Minister Greg Combet released the report while attending the United Nations climate summit in Durban, South Africa. Regional warming is expected to be greatest near the equator, the report says. "Large increases in the incidence of extremely hot days and warm nights are also projected. "A widespread increase in the number of heavy and extreme rain days is projected." The report adds that conditions for coral reefs will become "increasingly marginal" due to further ocean acidification. It also warns Pacific islands of rising sea levels of around 18 centimetres by 2040 and 80 centimetres by 2100 in a worst-case scenario for emissions growth and ice cap melting, and around 30 centimetres by 2100 under the best case of emissions growth slowing.
Read more:

A Defining Moment

Four deer were pulled from the icy waters of Stephens Passage, Alaska , by a group of locals on Tom Satre's 62-foot charter vessel. Four juvenile Sitka black-tailed deer swam directly toward the boat. Once the deer reached the boat, the four began to circle the boat, looking directly at the humans on board. Clearly, the bucks were distressed. With help, the typically skittish and absolutely wild animals came willingly onto the boat. Once onboard, they collapsed with exhaustion, shivering. All four deer were transported to Taku Harbour . Once the group reached the dock, the first buck that had been pulled from the water hopped onto the dock, looked back, then leapt into the Harbour, swam to shore, and disappeared into the forest. After a bit of prodding and assistance from the humans, two others followed suit, but one deer needed more help. She was wheeled down the jetty in wheelbarrow. They did not know how long the deer had been in the icy waters or if there had been others who did not survive. The good Samaritans (humans) describe their experience as "one of those defining moments in life." I'm sure it was for the deer, as well. *Network Item


Byron locals and Australians generally are outraged that Japan used 28 million dollars from the Tsunami relief funds to go towards supporting the whaling fleet currently on its way to the antarctic to kill 900 whales. Byron whale activist Dean Jefferys who was involved in 2 local fundraisers that raised over $20000 for the tsunami relief fund said "I am outraged that money we raised in good faith to help the Japanese people recover from the devistating effects of the Tsunami would be used to help kill whales. I believe the people in the Tsunami effected areas would also be outraged that relief funds are being directed to supporting a dieing industry that the global community condemns instead of funding there recovery. This is a double betrayal to all those who gave money or time to the fund and to the Japanese people in need and I believe is the straw on the camels back that will be the down fall of corrupt elements the government controlled by the Japan Fisheries Agency and also the whaling industry. The Japan Fisheries Agency says the trip's use of $28 million from the earthquake recovery fund is legitimate, because one of the towns devastated by the March earthquake and tsunami was a whaling port.

To discuss this and other critical marine issues, whale activists, Howie Cooke, Madi Pip and Dean Jefferys will come together this week in Mullumimby and Byron to share stories, videos, information and music to support and celebrate the wonders of the ocean and its creatures. Highlights of the recent inspiring Byron presentation by the founder of Sea Shepherd, Paul Watson, will also be screened. Howie Cooke, recently returned from Transparent Seavoyage 2, down the coast of California with the Surfers for Cetaceans crew and will show photos and videos from the trip. The S4C crew sailed 5 double seater Hobie sailing kayak from the Gaviota coast north of Santa Barbara through to Mission Bay, San Diego meeting with coastal communities, hearing about local marine issues which were highlighted at events held in all four counties. Howie painted many whale murals on route and video clips show encounters with sea lions, dolphins and on one occasion, two Blue Whales. See Howie will also show some clips and share some stories from his earlier trip to the Antarctic with Sea Shepherd.

Madi Pip will show some of her amazing footage swimming with tiger sharks and talk about the urgent action that is needed to protect sharks in Australia and worldwide. Dean Jefferys will show some footage of his sailing adventures in Migaloo 2 including the last two months in Hervey Bay with the whales and talk about his “2012 and Beyond” vision, sailing a fleet of boats along the east coast of OZ with the whales. Sea Shepherd stall will be there providing presents that help conserve and not cost the earth. Kevin James and Howie Cooke will sing some whale inspired songs. The events will be held at Byron Community Center Wednesday, 14th Dec at 5-30 pm and in Mullumbimby out the back of Santos, Thursday 15th Dec 7-30. $10 entry The Wednesday night event will be live streamed free on the internet at 5-30 pm on To interview Howie Cooke 0422641664 and Dean Jefferys is 0467485903 or 02 66840246 reference see *Media Release

What Price Posterity ?

Expert opinions are like Biblical quotations, you can easily find one to contradict another. Mention conservation and opinions sprout like weeds in a veggie patch. So let’s apply common sense and the evidence of our own eyes instead. When land is developed for human use native bush and habitat are destroyed. Wildlife will be affected to a greater or lesser degree, this is a fact of life. To enjoy the convenience and comfort of the high tech existence we are used to we must accept such compromises.
However there are some places which we want to protect and preserve intact for posterity. The World Heritage Convention describes them as “Places important to and belonging to everyone” having “universal value that transcends the value they hold for a particular nation”.

Therefore the approach here must be very different. Expert opinion will vary, but there is also the wisdom of people living on the spot. These are descendants of white settlers, ‘incomers’ who enjoy a modern lifestyle yet are attuned and sensitive to the needs of their special environment. Also Aboriginal elders whose instinctive affinity with the natural world has evolved over thousands of years. They understand persecution and dispossession too. Ask them what works. When dealing with places which have looked after themselves pretty well for hundreds of thousands of years surely going Softly Softly is indicated? Minimum interference. Upset the balance of nature at your peril, remember rabbits and cane toads? Inhibiting predators and prey, chopping down habitat, imposing human demands, a recipe for disaster. Common sense.

Take World Heritage Listed Fraser Island with 700,000 years of recorded evolution. What goes on? 400,000 visitors and rising; all manner of group and individual outdoor pursuits, 8 campgrounds, 2 resort complexes and another planned, all with bars, restaurants, night clubs, every sports facility etc. “Eco friendly” maybe but still needing infrastructure and servicing. 80,000 hectares of destruction from an out of hand ‘controlled‘ burn. And all this won’t impact on the fragile environment? There’s more, the iconic dingoes facing extinction after 5,000 years, harried and abused, excluded from their hunting grounds and brutally cleared from the beaches. Meanwhile anyone can hire a 4WD and hammer off along the sand. The limit was reduced, repeat reduced to, not from, 80k because people were killing themselves! Recently a resident displayed 38 cardboard cutouts of dingoes, a telling symbol of the present and a warning for the future. Protecting the environment? Protecting the profit from the Tourist Dollar more likely. Do we want intact World Heritage Sites where it’s environment first and people second, or sterile but profitable Adventure Parks and Playgrounds? Can’t have both together. Common sense, but no doubt some expert will disagree. *Lin Sargent, letter to the Australian*

"Prescribed Burnoffs"

Former Federal police chief Mick Keelty will conduct his second WA fire inquiry in less than a year. Appointed yesterday to determine how a Department of Environment and Conservation controlled burn resulted in 40 homes and chalets being destroyed, Mr Keelty will meet those affected by the tragedy on Sunday. But the terms of reference Mr Keelty has been asked to work to exclude a separate DEC prescribed burn that wiped out almost 40,000ha of bush and threatened to destroy homes on Molloy Island and in Augusta. Colin Barnett said prescribed burning, for better or worse, was here to stay. "This is not a broad study or overview into the benefits or otherwise of prescribed burning," the Premier said. "Prescribed burning is absolutely essential to minimise the risk of catastrophic fire." Mr Keelty, who earlier this year came up with a damning assessment of the management of a fire in Perth Hills which destroyed 71 homes in February, has been asked to complete "short", "sharp" and "detailed" inquiry by the end of January.

He will examine: The causes of the November Margaret River fire, The basis for and circumstances leading up to the DEC prescribed burn BS520 within the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park. The extent to which this prescribed burn was consistent with departmental policy and standard operating procedures.

Mr Barnett said Mr Keelty also needed to determine if the DEC had high enough regard for the risks associated with weather conditions over the period of the burn. But conservation and forest protection groups described the terms of reference as a "script for a cover-up". "Looking at the Margaret River fire in isolation is a mistake," WA Forest Alliance spokeswoman Jess Beckerling said. "In the days leading up to the disaster, DEC lit fires near Margaret River, Denmark, Manjimup and Walpole. "This split the State's fire-fighting resources with disastrous consequences and showed up the systemic failure to prepare appropriately for extreme weather conditions." Conservation Council WA chief Piers Verstegen said that Mr Barnett had missed an opportunity to stop "the reckless burning practices currently employed by the DEC". *TheWest


A new research project Conserving Koala Country has been established by Earthwatch Australia to look into the deteriorating habitat and tree condition in the Otway Ranges, Victoria.
Dr Desley Whisson a Wildlife and Conservation Biologist from Deakin University says, “so far we’ve been tracking the movement of 15 koalas (8 females/7 males) at Cape Otway and observed a high density of koalas in the area of up to 16 koalas per hectare”. In many parts of Australia Koala’s are in decline and at risk of extinction due to disease, land clearing and drought, however the high density of Koalas is posing a potential issue in The Otways. Historically Koalas were hunted for their fur and were driven to near extinction. To secure the species in Victoria, koalas were relocated to islands. The resulting populations were then used to restock mainland habitat. This has lead to low genetic diversity of the species in Victoria and has resulted in some high density populations where there are preferred food trees. At Cape Otway, these high density populations are overbrowsing Manna Gum and many trees are dying.

“It’s not unusual to see multiple koalas in the one tree in this area, and this is very unusual behaviour for koalas. The manna gum is like chocolate for the koalas”, says Dr Whisson.
Although there are a range of different trees in the area including blue gums, the research has so far assessed over 304 trees in total and found significant damage to the manna gum, the preferred browsing tree for Koala’s in this area. During the recent research trip during mating season the research team made up of Earthwatch volunteers recorded vocalisation of the koalas using a songmeter; a device set to record bellows for 5 minutes every hour. Volunteers recorded the number of bellows and whether it’s a male or female.
“We found a high number of koalas with young so it looks like a successful breeding year. The koalas are occupying very small home ranges where trees are still in good condition. They obviously don’t need to move far to find food or mates. A 3 legged female adult koala was also found, something very unusual to see and particularly for her to have survived to adulthood, ” says Dr Whisson.

Volunteers also ventured out at night with a spotlight to search for possums that could also be causing defoliation of trees. They saw lots of koalas but only found possums in one blue gum site. Richard Gilmore Earthwatch Executive Director says “It’s great to be able to be able to support research aimed at protecting the habitat of the iconic koala, and at the same time involve the general public in such a hands-on and interesting way.” The next team of Earthwatch volunteers will be heading out to do further research on the 18 April.
For more information or to sign up for an Earthwatch expedition call 03 9682 6828, email or visit *Network Item

Xmas Shopping to Help Wildlife

Wildwood Wildlife Shelter have their amazing wildlife calendars on sale again! The shelter for injured and orphaned wildlife recieves no other funding, and rather than thinking of just purchasing a calendar, they would like purchasers to think of it as a 'donation' to wildlife. These rescued Wildlife Calendars are beautiful. You can order now from Pam Turner at Wildwood Wildlife Shelter, PO Box 64, Glenthomson, Victoria, 3293, or phone 03 55774343. They are $25 each, plus postage. Postage costs are 1 calendar $8, 2 to 3, $10, 4 to 6, $12, 10 calendars for $15.

A very nice Christmas present, the new book "Kangaroo Footprints". Fun puzzles and activities and fascinating facts about Australia’s remarkable kangaroos. 75 pages of information and activities for students age 7 to 12.Every double page has an information page and an activity page. All pages are photocopy masters for teachers to use with HSIE /SOSE units and include cross curriculum activities. Read about it here

Koala Foundation Gift Shop

Dont forget the Australia Zoo Gift Shop at

or buy "Kangaroos, Faces in the Mob" now!

or "Kangaroos, Myths and Realities" from

Bat Conservation and Rescue online shop here

Here is another Wildlife Group's web page with GREAT Christmas Gifts. The aim of the business is to provide an income and a mechanism to support wildlife welfare and education.

And Jennifer Parkhurst has kindly designed another beautiful dingo Christmas card.(copywrite Jennifer Parkhurst) If you would like to order please e-mail me on Cards are $12 for 10 or $1.50 each.

There are now many conservation group websites carrying gifts that put the profits back into wildlife protection, just do a Google search "gifts for wildlife lovers"