Monday, May 21, 2012

Wildife Bytes 22/5/12

ACT Kangaroo Kill

The ACT Government, arguably the most disfunctional Government in Australia, has again decided to kill 2000 kangaroos in the Parks around Canberra. This Government is a mix of psuedo Greens, Liberals, and Labor  incompetants, all of whom support the kill.  Local activists have found the burial pit, and will do their best to disrupt the shooting. Animal Liberation ACT will be holding a demonstration outside the Legislative Assembly at 5.15pm this Friday 25 May to protest the annual killing of kangaroos in the Territory.   The 2000 kangaroos to be killed  does not include the large number of joeys that will also be killed by starvation after their mothers are shot (or by decapitation if they are caught by shooters).  Having large populations of kangaroos killed in Nature Parks repeatedly is of grave ethical and ecological concern for the future conservation of kangaroos in these Reserves.  To send a strong message to the ACT Government ACT ALib need as many people to attend as possible, so if you can spare half an hour this Friday evening please go along!  You can read the Canberra Times story, and vote here against the kill. The poll closes in three days.

It's hard to comprehend in this day and age, that such Government approved brutality could still occur, and in our Capital City of all places.


Biosecurity experts say the Dog Fence should be torn down and dingoes left to roam free and thrive for the good of native animals and the environment.  But farmers south of the Dog Fence, which has large sections of its 2225km length in SA in disrepair, are fighting off animals as large as german shepherds as experts prepare a "defence for the dingo". Dingoes have reportedly been sighted as far south as Laura and Cambrai. They have mauled and killed sheep on stations around the Flinders Ranges and farmers want more effort made to retain the 1880s-built structure as a defence against the dingoes. *AdelaideNow
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Wild dogs will roam the city parklands and eat suburban pets if the Dog Fence in SA's Far North is torn down, a farmer representative claims. The warning follows an article in The Advertiser  on Saturday in which Professor Corey Bradshaw, from Adelaide University's Environment Institute, suggests it is time to tear down the fence and let dingo populations thrive. South Australian Farmers Federation Livestock Committee member Geoff Power wants to debate those scientists who believe the Dog Fence should be dismantled. The fence stretches from Yalata in the state's west to NSW and on to  Queensland. * AdelaideNow
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Ed comment; Its interesting that most people call the dingo a dingo, but some farmers call them wild create fear in the community about the dingoes.....

AZWH Patient of the Week

The latest Patient of the Week from the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital is Jewel the Noisy Pitta, a very pretty bird who was found being attacked by butcher birds at Caloundra. After some pain relief and a night in the ICU at the AZWH, Jewel was released the next day back into the wild. *AZWH

Australia Ranked Seventh Worst Polluter on Earth

Conservation group World Wildlife Fund (WWF)  has compiled the latest report how countries balance economic growth with ecological conservation and Australia is in the top 10, closely behind the United States and the Arab nations Qatar, Kuwait, and the UAE.  Countries with very high standards of living are actually the ones that bring forth more ecological destruction. However, Australia was able to score low and has been able to reduce the impact of environmental destruction while maintaining economic development. WWF chief executive Dermot O'Gorman told ABC News "interestingly other countries which have similar or higher living standards than Australia also rank lower. It shows that we can reduce the impact that we have on the planet while still maintaining the level of development." The results of the survey were calculated by comparing renewable resources consumed against the Earth's regenerative capacity, the report said. *


Chinese officials added an extra 50,000 carp to the waters of Poyang Lake this week to help feed the endangered Yangtze finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides asiaeorientalis) that live there, according to a report from the Xinhua news agency. Around 300 to 500 porpoises live in Poyang Lake in northern Jiangxi Province, representing between one third and one half of the subspecies’s global population. The porpoises have experienced a dramatic population crash in recent years, falling from 2,700 individuals in 1991 to around 1,000 in 2011.
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A commercial kangaroo harvesting trial could be undertaken in the Tatiara, (South of Adelaide) if the community supports it. The Tatiara District Council has agreed to allow the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to undertake consultation with local landholders. A similar motion was defeated recently by the Naracoorte Lucindale Council, as it believed there were not enough kangaroos in its area. Tatiara Mayor Richard Vickery says the consultation will determine if council supports the trial. "Some of our areas are surrounded by substantial areas of national parks and conservation parks, so the issue varies significantly," he said. "Certainly the northern areas of the Tatiara and some sections of the southern and western areas do have reasonable numbers of kangaroos but that's obviously one of the things to be worked out." He says if the trial goes ahead, it could prove positive for the local economy. "One could argue that at the moment the controlling of excessive kangaroo numbers is wasteful and if there can be some economic return from it that option should potentially be considered," he said. *ABC

Meawnwhile....The Kangaroo Industry Association wants State and Federal authorities to lobby the Russian Government to lift its ban on kangaroo meat imports. The ban was introduced nearly three years ago because of concerns about food safety standards. At the time, Russia was responsible for 70 per cent of exports. The Association says the processing of kangaroo meat in Australia has halved since the ban was introduced. John Kelly from the association says new regulations have been phased in but trade is yet to resume. He says kangaroo shooters are leaving the industry. "I think we are starting to have to seriously consider the end of the kangaroo industry nationally if the Federal Government of State Governments can't very swiftly get a resolution to Russian access or resolution to Chinese access then we may seriously not have a kangaroo industry in another year's time," he said. "For many, many people in the industry it's got very close to becoming a deal-breaking issue. There are significant portions of the industry questioning why they're bothering anymore." *ABC

Ed comment; Wonderful news, and no thanks to the Governments of Australia who have all closed their eyes to the horrors of this disgusting Industry....

Turtle and Dugong Recipes

A group of Indigenous women in far north Queensland are hoping to help close the health gap by teaching locals how to cook with traditional ingredients and techniques. The Bama Recipe Book will be launched today in Mossman, north of Cairns, and features recipes like stingray curry and coconut damper. Mossman Community Health spokeswoman Sylvia Green says Indigenous people need to get back to their cultural roots to curb high rates of disease like diabetes. "Live off the land again, go hunting, get fresh fish, get fresh food off the land," she said. "It's very important that we start to educate our people and stop eating processed foods because that's what's killing us. "That's why people are getting diagnosed with all kinds of cancers every minute of the day." Ms Green says it is not your average recipe book and they are not your average recipes. "You can have stingray curry - you can cook it in tea-tree bark underground," she said. "Then of course you've got the turtle recipes - steamed turtle, dugong, fish, coconut dampers, cooked in the oven or cooked underground in the earth. "Salads, entrees like periwinkles ... you can make it into a kebab on a stick." *ABC


Feral cats, rabbits and foxes are causing problems across many parts of Australia, but there are hopes of new baiting methods soon. In the arid area around Roxby Downs in the far north of South Australia, local organisation Arid Recovery is a non-profit group which runs a reserve where cats, foxes and rabbits are kept out with fencing. When the sanctuary was created 15 years ago, the number of small mice and possums were about the same inside and outside its fences. A survey back in February made clear the effects of creating the reserve and keeping it free of feral pests. "During that trapping, we now catch six times more small mammals, so your little cute hopping mice and your plains rats and all those little natives ... inside the reserve than we do outside," said group member Hannah Spronk. The group recently posted a photo of a dead feral cat on the internet to illustrate the damage just one animal can cause, as it shows the animal's stomach contents. Hannah Spronk says the group is keen to highlight the harm feral cats can cause native wildlife. "In one cat, it's got 24 painted dragons, three bearded dragons, three skinks, two earless dragons, a mouse and a zebra finch in there," she said. "Cats have the same sort of digestive system as humans, so you know that anything you find in their stomach is something they have eaten in the last 24 hours is in there, so that one meal, one cat, and an estimated 15 million feral cats out there, so a big impact." Foxes and rabbits are not prevalent in all areas of Australia, but feral cats are a problem from the Great Dividing Range in eastern Australia to the deserts further west. *ABC

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Investigations into the illegal killing of the state's faunal symbol, the southern hairy-nosed wombat, have not led to any prosecutions.  New figures given to Parliament show that between January, 2000, and December last year, the Environment Department received nine reports specifically relating to illegal killing of the protected species. And in the same period, there were eight reports of  alleged illegal killings  investigated. Agriculture Minister Gail Gago, in a written reply to a question from Greens MP Tammy Franks, said one of those reports of killing was under investigation. "Between January, 2000, and December, 2011, no investigation reached prosecution," Ms Gago said. *Adelaide Now


Conservation group leader Paul Watson says he was surprised by his detention in Germany, and has pointed to "powerful enemies" of Sea Shepherd's campaigns. In responses to Fairfax Media's questions relayed to him in a Frankfurt Airport holding cell overnight, Mr Watson expressed fears for his life in Costa Rica if extradition was granted by Germany. But he said that, whatever the outcome of the case, Sea Shepherd's anti-whaling campaign in the Southern Ocean would not be deterred.
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Researchers at the University of Sydney have found some of Australia's platypus colonies are at risk of being wiped out by disease, because of their lack of genetic diversity. The study found that while mainland platypuses have genetically diverse immune systems, those in isolated populations don't and that leaves them vulnerable to outbreaks of disease. Particularly poor genetic diversity was found in platypus colonies on Kangaroo Island and King Island. *ABC


The speckled warblers arrived first. Then came the red-capped robins, followed by the rufous whistlers and the grey fantails. For the past 10 years, ecologist Damian Michael has watched, and listened, as native woodland birds, including many rare and vulnerable species, returned to farms across the eastern states. His observations were part of a decade-long survey of 193 sites on farms throughout NSW, southern Queensland and northern Victoria which found a significant increase in bird biodiversity in areas where property owners had replanted native woodland vegetation or reduced livestock grazing and encouraged regrowth. The program leader, David Lindenmayer, said the study's results suggested the fate of many endangered birds could be reversed with the right management. ''It is a really positive result. It shows us how we can make a difference,'' said Professor Lindenmayer from the Australian National University.
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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 *

Cockatoo Kill Proposed

White cockatoos - not bats - are in plague proportions in Atherton and locals want the State Government to consider a kill permit.  The far north rural hub is under siege from thousands of protected sulphur-crested white cockatoos and locals want some shot or poisoned. Huge flocks roost in the trees next to the Atherton Hospital directly in the flight path of the rescue helicopter, make a racket, strip and kill old gum trees, and ravage corn and peanut crops. Council staff have started blasting the air with special blank cartridges called Bird Frite to try to scare away the birds. Environment Minister Andrew Powell said the kill permit for bats, revealed by The Courier-Mail last week, was only a last-resort option for farmers, with no intent to deploy it in urban areas. "The intent is to still look at relocating bats," Mr Powell said. He said there was no plan to extend it to the cockatoos.

Tablelands Mayor Rosa Lee Long said she hoped Bird Frite would not shift the problem to another part of town. "They are lovely birds, very pretty to look at, but they are a noisy nuisance and make a terrible mess," she said. "The only other option is a cull. "It is a bit like the bats, if they are in plague proportions, they may need a cull to bring back a balance." She urged the Government to consider extending lethal Damage Mitigation Permits to bats, dingoes, wild dogs, crocodiles and parrots. "Like bats, dingoes, and crocodiles, the cockatoos are protected species. No one likes to kill anything, but our priority must be to protect the health, life and limb of people over wild creatures."

Pensioner Gaye Webster, in her 80s, lives under some of the favoured roosting trees of the vast flocks. She wants a cull. "Shoot them," Mrs Webster said. "Kill off a few cockys. The mess they make is absolutely disgusting. "Bushies reckon it only takes a couple of dead cockatoos to scare the whole lot off. "It is like these bats and the Hendra virus. Give me the poison, I'll dish it up to them. "People against a cull are the ones who don't have to live with them." Alex Adoberg, who owns the Atherton Hinterland Motel, said he was opposed to killing the parrots. But the Bird Frite program, trialled last year, did not seem very effective, he said. "They seem to lift off and then come back and land again. I'd prefer to keep trying to scare them off, I don't like the idea of a cull." He said the biggest threat - other than farmers losing entire crops in a day - was the risk posed to incoming helicopter pilots. "They lift off out of the trees straight into the helicopter flight path. That is the scariest part." *Courier Mail

Kangoroo Scrotums

The globe is going ga-ga for John Kreuger's gonads.  The Alice River taxidermist is set to become the first man in the world to build a fortune based on bollocks - quite literally.  John, 71, expects to become a millionaire next year, after receiving overwhelming orders from around the world for his homemade kangaroo scrotum bottle openers. In a ballsy move, he is now looking to start manufacturing the crown jewels collectables offshore. The Dutch expat, who introduced stuffed cane toads to the world in the early 1980s, has since sold his toad business and branched out into other animals' body parts. He started experimenting with roo genitalia about five years ago, creating an innovative double-ball opener filled with plaster. WIth the help of an assistant, he was able to produce about 40 an hour by hand. He soon upgraded to a machine similar to an old-fashioned laundry roller - which John has dubbed his "de-nutter" - which allowed him to streamline the process, churning out about 500 hollowed scrotums an hour.

The finished, tanned and stuffed products are sold wholesale directly through John, or through his distributors in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. About 40,000 units were sold last year in Canada, the US, Japan and Europe. John said he had attracted many buyers through gun shops, exporting a major order to Canada earlier this week. He and his wife will be flying to the world's largest gun show in Las Vegas next March, to find an overseas distributor for his product. "All my life I've geared my products through the souvenir market," he said. "These guys want to put kangaroo balls in their den. I'm told it's a fantastic talking piece." John said he has had so much success selling kangaroo scrotum bottle-openers that he expected to break the $1 million profit mark next year. He has rented a small property in Singapore, where he will start manufacturing the product for overseas export. "I've got six people, and we're renting a small ex-butcher's shop, so we're going to set the whole thing up over there," he said.

John is quick to point out that he is merely making use of a waste product that would have otherwise made its way to the garbage heap. The testicles are obtained through a kangaroo meat processing plant in Brisbane, with a majority of the macropods sourced from western Queensland, where they have been reported to be in plague proportions. "There's a concern now because so many people have left the industry to work in mines," he said. "Ten years ago we had 3000 shooters in Queensland. We're up to about 500 now and they can't maintain the status quo of the kangaroos." *Townsville Bulletin

 Wildife in Decline

Earth is a planet in crisis with wildlife populations declining by more than 30% in the past four decades, conservationists claim. A new report examined how more than 9,000 populations of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians and fish are faring. It comes in the face of record over-consumption of natural resources with serious implications for human health, wealth and well-being. Freshwater creatures in the tropics have seen the worst declines, of around 70%, while tropical species as a whole have seen populations tumble by 60% since 1970. In Asia, tiger numbers have fallen 70% in just 30 years. Wildlife is under pressure from ever-growing human demand for resources, the study by WWF, the latest Living Planet report from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the Global Footprint Network said. And research into demand for water revealed 2.7bn people live in areas that suffer severe water shortages for at least one month of the year.

Tiger numbers have fallen 70% in just 30 years People are exploiting resources such as water, forests and fisheries and putting greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere at a much higher rate than they can be replenished and pollution absorbed. The "ecological footprint" of human activity was 50% higher than the capacity of the Earth's land and oceans in 2008, the most recent year for which figures are available, with people living as though we have a planet and a half to sustain us. Rising population and consumption means that by 2030, two planets will not be enough to meet human demand, threatening the resources including food, freshwater and a stable climate that people need to survive, the report said. WWF-UK's chief executive David Nussbaum said the underlying cause of declines in nature was the rate of human consumption.

"If you're relying on your annual account and you overspend, you eat into your savings until there's nothing left," he said. "At the moment we are in danger of doing that with our life support system, Planet Earth." He said the UK was living in the eye of the storm, without yet feeling the impacts of its over-consumption, but warned the "whirlwind of consumerism is whipping up and causing all sorts of damage". The UK is 27th in the global rankings for how the ecological footprint of how each person in the country consumes, a five-place rise from the last report two years ago. And while wildlife populations in temperate regions such as Europe have risen by around 31% since 1970, WWF warned this only showed habitats and species bouncing back from previous lows when they had been degraded and damaged. ZSL's Professor Tim Blackburn said: "We are living in a planet in crisis, and the Living Planet Index is one window into how bad that crisis is." WWF called on governments and businesses, who are meeting in Rio de Janeiro next month to discuss sustainable development, to address the situation with the same urgency and determination that they put into dealing with the financial crisis. * SkyNews

Another Near Reef Disaster

The Great Barrier Reef was just metres from a major oil spill when an out-of-control 26,070 tonne bulk sugar carrier was blown over Shark Reef, northeast of Cooktown.  Crew frantically dumped ballast from the ID Integrity, which draws 7.1m, to reduce its draft as much as possible as it drifted across the reef on Saturday night. Shark Reef depths range from 15m to 8m. By sheer luck, the 186m Hong Kong ship with its broken-down engine managed to miss the outstanding Osprey Reef only 15km north, which is a high-end tourist destination for wealthy sightseers and divers. The near miss occurred after the ship's engine failed on Friday and has prompted calls for a major review of Reef shipping regulations and for Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke to place a moratorium on port development. Three tugs raced to the Integrity, with the first getting a line aboard just before noon yesterday.

Tugs were last night coaxing the ship southeast and away from a collision with the World Heritage-listed Reef. A decision is yet to be taken as to where it will go for repairs. An Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokeswoman said it was not known how much heavy bunker oil was on board but the ship could carry 720t. As a comparison, the Pacific Adventurer, holed off Brisbane in 2009, lost about 270t of oil, causing substantial damage to about 60km of beaches on Moreton and Bribie islands and the Sunshine Coast. The ship's location, known as the Coral Sea Islands Territory, is notorious for its powerful trade winds and gusts of 55km/hr were recorded during the emergency. WWF-Australia spokesman and marine scientist Richard Leck, who has worked at Osprey and Shark reefs, said the ship's hull should be inspected in case it brushed the reef. He said it was obvious Australia avoided a disaster by metres and called for an independent probe into shipping to includes issues such as the best routes, pilotage, deployment of pollution gear and tugs and, particularly, what Australia could do to ensure the seaworthiness of offshore-flagged ships and the ability of their crews. *Courier Mail


The most vulnerable frogs in NSW are being ravaged by a deadly parasite. Two strains of the myxosporean parasite were linked last year to rapidly declining frog numbers. Now, research from Taronga Zoo and the University of Sydney has revealed the disease hits endangered frogs hardest, but frogs raised in the zoo do not develop the parasites. The parasites infect frogs' livers and brains, especially at the tadpole stage, and can make them less mobile and vulnerable to predators, or stop them metamorphosing into adults. This can have a devastating impact, says Dr Karrie Rose, the head of the Australian Registry of Wildlife Health at Taronga Zoo. The single-celled parasites, found only in NSW and Queensland, have a link with jellyfish, and are a rare example of an organism becoming less complex as it evolves.

Research shows frogs most affected include some of NSW's most endangered species, such as the green and golden bell frog. But researchers found frogs reared at the zoo do not develop the parasites. 'Even if you have adults with the parasite, if you take the eggs away from them you don't get the transmission,'' said Dr David Phalen, director of the Wildlife and Conservation Centre at the University of Sydney. The discovery could be used to help replenish endangered species. Researchers will now map how and where the parasite spreads and develop ways to contain it. *Age