Monday, July 2, 2012

Wildlife Bytes 3/7/12


In a story below, UNESCO has handed the State and Australian Governments an ultimatum, "Do more to protect the Great Barrier Reef or risk it being listed as in danger". Surely that should be a wakeup call to the Queensland and Federal Governments. In 30 years of diving and boating on the Gt Barrier Reef, I have personally seen the damage that has already occured. I have snorkelled over huge areas of coral dead from coral bleaching, I've seen the siltation of coral and seagrass beds after floods, and the damage caused by millions of litres of cow manure laden floodwaters to the littoral zones.........and to the rest of the reef.  I've watched the prawn trawlers scrap the shallow sandy edges of the marine rivers in search of product to sell....although collectively the commercial fishing Industry damage is minimal compared to other Industrial damage. And as for Gladstone Harbor, along with other conservation groups I fought hard to reduce the damage that was occuring, but years of deliberate and gross mis-management by succesive Queensland and Federal Goverments has completely destroyed the extensive marine ecosystems that used to be there. Chemical factories producing chemicals for the mining Industry were allowed to do whatever they liked. Now the Government is dredging up all the chemical gunk from the harbor bottom, and dumping it further out on to sea to be distributed by the tides onto the rest of the reef.....just to deepen the harbor for the huge ships that will be coming here to load up coal seam gas and coal. *

Wombat Workshops SA.

Southern hairy-nosed wombat community workshops 2012. All invited to attend - open discussion! Nundroo Roadhouse: Tuesday 17th July 2012 Penong Football Club: Wednesday 18th July 2012 Tooligie Hall: Sunday 22nd July 2012 Elliston Football Club: Monday 23rd July 2012 Wudinna Information Centre: Wednesday 25th July 2012 All workshops are 5pm – 8pm
Includes dinner! Please RSVP to Elisa for catering purposes For more information contact Dr Elisa Sparrow: or (08) 8230 1321 * Network Item


The Kangaroo is the national emblem of Australia but, as Carolyn Drew tells us, the Kangaroo is far from being revered. In fact quite the opposite seems to be the case. Have a listen as Carolyn tells us all about the proposed and sometimes already happening cullings/killings of Kangaroos in their native Australia.

Lonesome George

Lonesome George, the last remaining tortoise of his kind and a conservation icon, has died of unknown causes in Ecuador's Galapagos Islands. The giant tortoise was found in 1972, and was thought to be about 100 years old. Lonesome George was a symbol of Ecuador's Galapagos Islands, which attracted 180,000 visitors last year. The head of the Galapagos National Park, Edwin Naula, says "his life cycle came to an end" on Sunday (local time). "This morning the park ranger in charge of looking after the tortoises found Lonesome George, his body was motionless," he said. Lonesome George was the last member of a species of giant tortoise from La Pinta, one of the smallest islands in the Galapagos. The giant Galapagos tortoises, which can live up to 200 years old, were among the species that helped Charles Darwin formulate his theory of evolution in the 19th Century. Mr Naula says the Galapagos National Park is considering embalming George's body so that it can be displayed in the park. The park plans to carry out a necropsy to determine what may have killed the tortoise. Scientists had been trying to get George to mate since 1993, when they introduced two female tortoises of a different subspecies into his pen. They laid eggs twice, but they were infertile. The pen where George lived was visited by thousands of tourists every year, who often had to scramble with each other to take pictures of one of the rarest creatures on Earth. Tortoises were hunted for their meat by sailors and fishermen to the point of extinction, while their habitat has been eaten away by goats introduced from the mainland. Some 20,000 giant tortoises still live on the Galapagos. * Reuters

An annual aerial wildlife survey by the Environment Department has been expanded to include goats, camels and emus. A plane will cross South Australia's pastoral and agricultural regions for about two weeks from Monday to also record the number of kangaroos. The operations manager for kangaroos, Tom Gerschwitz, says the results will provide important data for land management. "There may be a requirement to manage kangaroos and at the end of the day we need to know as a department the numbers so we can successfully manage kangaroo numbers across the landscape," he said. "From the data collected we can then develop our population estimates from there and I guess at the end of the day that's enabled the department to manage kangaroos so that kangaroos are present across the landscape." *ABC

Police will use sickening footage from a mobile phone to prosecute three men who filmed themselves torturing and killing a young kangaroo. Sources say police officers and wildlife carers are disgusted and appalled at the violence inflicted. The men, aged 22, 21 and 18, are alleged to have thrown the joey in the boot of a car after it was caught by a dog and then drove it to the Seymour area. It was there that it was allegedly bashed to death, the episode recorded as video on a mobile phone. Police media liaison has confirmed a mobile phone has been confiscated and three men are facing charges of animal cruelty. It is understood police were tipped off to the existence of the violent video footage by witnesses who saw the incident and realised it was being recorded.  Anyone with any information on the attack is urged to contact Seymour police on (03) 5735 0200 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Note; Wildlife groups need as many people as possible to attend Seymour Magistrates' Court this Thursday as possible. The Hearing type is a Mention for each of these 3 "people"  this Thursday June 5th: "In the Magistrates' Court, all summary matters begin as a Mention Hearing. This is the first date on which the matter is listed before the court. If the accused pleads guilty the matter can be heard and determined at the mention hearing". The Courthouse is at Tallarook Street  Seymour  Victoria.

Turtles and Dugong

The second hearing of the changes to teh Humane Act is recorded here.


Initial results from a week-long monitoring program of brushtail possum numbers in Central Australia indicate they're near extinction in the area. Volunteers from around the country travelled to the West MacDonnell Ranges near Alice Springs to survey 22 remote sites for possum scat. Northern Territory Government technician Peter McDonald says scats were found at just five of the sites. "Most areas where possum sign has been found, as recently as ten years ago, we didn't find a single scat," he said. "If they disappear from the kinds of sites we're at now, then they're in real trouble, and I would say there's very little doubt that they're on their way to being extinct in Central Australia, which is pretty sad." *ABC

Did you know?

90 dingoes are known to have been destroyed since QPWS took control of Fraser Island. *

Gt Barrier Reef
Queensland is one wet season away from an environmental disaster with the potential to destroy sections of the Great Barrier Reef.  State Environment Minister Andrew Powell and his federal counterpart Tony Burke yesterday confirmed a serious environmental threat is developing at Townsville's Yabulu Nickel Refinery. Tailing ponds at the refinery owned by Queensland's richest man Clive Palmer are filled with contaminated water and in danger of collapse. "What we have is a potential for an environmental disaster," Mr Powell said yesterday. Mr Powell said his department had been on the front foot in recent weeks working with Queensland Nickel to resolve the problem.

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New Petition

A Petition to lower speeds on our roads to protect wildlife. You can view this petition at:

And another Petition here to save circus elephants

Shooting in National Parks

The Premier, Barry O'Farrell, has poured cold water on the aspirations of the Shooters and Fishers Party, which wants to expand recreational hunting to cover most of the state's national parks. In an online video, shot at a gun expo, Shooters and Fishers MP Robert Borsak said hunting would ''eventually'' be declared in 751 of the 799 national parks in NSW. He later told the Herald he only hoped this would be the case if the existing plan to allow hunting of feral animals in 79 parks is deemed a success. But Mr O'Farrell effectively ruled out Mr Borsak's hope yesterday. ''I can't envisage any circumstance in which more parks will be added,'' Mr O'Farrell said. ''Mr Borsak is clearly expressing a hope. I have a hope, which is one that they won't have control of the upper house and [I] won't have to do the sorts of deals that was able to free up asset value of generators in exchange for introducing this program into NSW.''
 The decision to allow shooting in 40 parks was passed on Thursday, in exchange for the support of the Shooters and Fishers in passing government legislation to sell power stations.

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AZWH Patients

Luka the Koala found stuck on the roof of a tin shed in a suburban backyard at Bray Park, with two large dogs barking at him from below. Transported to the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital for specialised treatment and care by a local rescuer. Veterinary Assessment: Dr Claude assessed Luka, with test results showing he was positive for Chlamydia. He was also quite nervous from his ordeal on the roof, though otherwise uninjured. Treatment: Dr Claude prescribed Luka with antibiotics, and set him up in a leafy and quiet outdoor enclosure.
Future: Once recovered, Luka will be released back into the wild. As koalas have distinct home ranges, Queensland laws require they be returned within 5km of where they were found.
AZWH Statistic: Almost 300 koalas have been admitted to the wildlife hospital so far in 2012, many of them as a result of dog attacks. Please be a responsible pet owner and keep an eye on them!

Found, a trio of Feathertail Gliders In the electrical switchboard of a local residence at Eudlo. Transported to: The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital for a veterinary check-over to ensure their good health. Veterinary Assessment: Dr Amber assessed the trio and found they were lively and thankfully uninjured. The little siblings are likely to have decided the switchboard was a nice warm spot to spend the cool winter nights! Treatment: As Dr Amber could detect no abnormalities with the gliders no treatment was required, and they were transferred to a local wildlife carer for overnight observation. Outcome: The little family was released back into the wild the very next day, and placed into a suitable glider box in the same area in which they were found. Conservation Tip: Install a glider or possum box in your backyard trees to provide a safe place for them to rest, away from dangers like pet cats. *AZWH

Mary River

The Mary River's fragile ecosystem is set to receive further protection as the Federal Government develops a recovery plan to save the river's threatened species. The Mary River Threatened Species Recovery Plan was the first of its kind in Australia to focus on a river. It would protect the Mary River turtle, cod and lung fish and the giant bard frog. The freshwater mullet would also be studied as it was a species in decline. Tiaro Landcare's Marilyn Connell said it was great to hear a plan had been proposed that would help continue the work her organisation had been doing for the past decade. She said the recognition from the government would also boost the funding available to protect the river system. A series of public forums had been held, with Gympie, Maryborough. Kenilworth and Maleny all having public consultations. Tanzi Smith from the Mary River Catchment Coordination Committee said the public's involvement was an important part of forming the plan. She said that aspect was being emphasised because the community would make vital contributions to how the river was used going forward. That included terms of increased access to river and opportunities for local businesses and tourism. The contributions from the public would be incorporated into the draft plan which would then go to the State and Federal Governments to be reviewed. Then, when it went through that process, it would become a recovery plan under the Environment Protection and the Biodiversity and Conservation Act. * Fraser Coast Chronicle

Roaming dogs have annihilated a blue penguin colony that took years to build up at Cape Foulwind on New Zealand's west coast. Reuben Lane, a ranger for the West Coast Blue Penguin Trust, said 15 dead penguins had been found since June 21 near the lighthouse end of the coastal track. A veterinarian confirmed dogs killed the first five, which had bite wounds to the head, neck and upper body. Autopsies would be conducted to confirm the cause of death. After hearing about six deaths last week, Mr Lane visited the colony on Tuesday and found eight more victims. One more was found yesterday. ''There's something pathetic and tragic about these little birds lying there just dead. These penguins have a charismatic innocence about them. It's really sad,'' he said.
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A Sydney fashion mogul fined for destroying hundreds of trees on his property told a court he had moved any koalas on first - by banging on their trees with a hammer. Running Bare founder Brian Clifford Powell told the Land and Environment Court that the day before he bulldozed a tree that was home to a koala, he would "tap the tree with a hammer, causing the koala to move to another tree". Any koalas that didn't move were picked up in hessian bags and relocated. The 67-year-old from Rose Bay told the court only seven or eight koalas were affected on his property Carraman, which adjoins a koala sanctuary at Narrandera Nature Reserve in the state's southwest. Office of Environment and Heritage conservation officer and ecologist Peter Erwin said some of the trees were home to koalas and other endangered species, including the barking owl, superb parrot and possibly the squirrel glider. "The clearing caused significant consequences to the conservation values of the site and maintenance habitats surrounding the site and for the survival of the flora and fauna species that use these habitats," Mr Erwin told the court.
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Guinness World Records has declared that a huge crocodile blamed for deadly attacks in the southern Philippines is the largest in captivity in the world. The giant reptile has brought pride, fear, tourism revenues and attention to the previously little-known town where it was captured last year. Guinness spokeswoman Anne-Lise Rouse says the saltwater crocodile nicknamed "Lolong" measured 6.17 metres and weighed more than a ton.  It was captured last November in Bunawan town in Agusan del Sur province, and nicknamed "Lolong", the saltwater crocodile measured 6.17 metres and weighed more than a ton. Bunawan Mayor Edwin Cox Elorde told The Associated Press on Sunday that he was notified by Guinness of the giant reptile's new distinction last month. The news sparked celebrations in his town of 37,000 people and concerns that more giant crocodiles might be lurking nearby. * AP


Male blue tits lose interest when their mates' beauty starts fading, staying out longer and neglecting their offspring, a new study has found. Scientists who dulled the bright blue head tinge that crowns the female of the species, subsequently noticed the males skulking off for more alone time and making fewer trips to feed their chicks. "It seems that they stay around, but not in the nest," says study co-author Matteo Griggio of Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology in Vienna. "Probably they take a rest ... It is not a joke, probably they keep some energy, maybe for the next breeding season?" Both male and female blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus), which usually have several mating partners in a lifetime, have feathers on the tops of their heads that reflect UV light. For the purposes of the experiment, the team waited for chicks to hatch before smearing an oil containing UV-blocking chemicals on the crowns of the females. To confirm that it would not be the smell that put off the males, they applied the same oil, without UV-blockers, to a separate test group of females. The scientists say they took care not to render the partners unrecognisable to each other. "The UV reflectance of the crown plumage of female blue tits significantly affected male investment in feeding nestlings," the team write in a study to be published in the BioMed Central journal Frontiers in Zoology. "Males made less frequent feeding trips when paired with UV-reduced females." While much has been written about male posturing and strutting to compete for female attention, this was a rare study to measure male response to female attractiveness in the animal kingdom. The results showed that female blue tits must invest a lot of time in preening to remain attractive as sexual partners. In nature, those birds with poorer personal hygiene risk losing their blue lustre under a coating of dust, pollution or parasites. * AFP

Climate Change

Sea ice in the Arctic melted at a record pace last month, according to the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre. Measurements taken on June 18 showed the area containing sea ice had shrunk to 10.62 million square kilometres, about 31,000 square kilometres lower than the previous record for that day, set in in 2010. The rate of melt slowed slightly later in the month, so it is not yet clear whether this year's melt will challenge 2007, the year in which sea ice reached its lowest extent since instrumental records began. 'Early melt onset, and clear skies near the solstice are favourable conditions for more rapid melting, and warming of the ocean in open water areas,'' the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre said in its report. ''The persistence of this type of pressure pattern throughout summer 2007 was a major factor towards causing the record low September extent that year.'' An update issued on the weekend showed the ice extent tracking below the 2007 figure, but the agency cautioned that it was much too early to say if 2012 would break the record for melting ice.
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Melbourne's expanding urban growth boundary is forecast to hit remnant populations of one of the state's most endangered frogs, just as new figures show an almost 30 per cent drop in growling grass frog populations over the past decade. Results of a Melbourne University survey released to The Age found the growling grass frog suffered ''significant and unsustainable population decline'' around Melbourne, due largely to a loss of habitat, drought and disease. The survey compared population data recorded at 152 sites across Melbourne's north in 2001-02 and in 2011-12.Read more:


The team from Angas Downs Station are working hard to increase red kangaroo numbers on the former pastoral property. Rangers are reinstalling water points, undertaking aerial surveying and developing the facilities to become a release site for recovering roos who have fallen on some back luck. And while the first kangaroos have just arrived, Dr George Wilson says they're still building a proper enclosure. "Just a few days ago we were given four kangaroos that had been hand-reared in Alice Springs. "But they arrived unexpectedly, so it will be a few weeks before they have a proper enclosure. "So they're in the chook pen for now." Once completed, Dr Wilson says the enclosure will became an educational tool and tourist attraction. "It's amazing, there's very few places in Australia where tourists can reliably see red kangaroos in the wild yet it's our national emblem." But the display is only part of a broader land management strategy to increase numbers on the property. "Eventually, with the support of the local Indigenous community, we'll develop a sustainable hunting regime. "This property is here to blend their continuing traditional needs with science." *ABC

Ed Comment; This is probably illegal. Wilson is collecting injured and orphaned kangaroos to build up breeding stocks because they have shot out the kangaroos on this property. Wilson has long claimed that this is a kangaroo farm, where kangaroos are shot in "sustainable manner". Obviously it is not sustainable, and the fact that he is raising kangaroos to be eventually commercially killed will be abhorant to many wildlife it is to us at WPAA. *

ACT kangaroos

The ACT government has fallen well below its targets for culling kangaroos in the territory's grasslands for two years running, official documents reveal. But the documents released under freedom of information laws show the government believes that kangaroo populations continue to climb at a rate of up to 30 per cent in ''post-drought'' conditions. The documents show that last year's winter cull killed about 2440 animals from a planned 3427 while this year, government shooters hoped to kill more than 2000 kangaroos but only about 1100 were shot. The annual cat-and-mouse game between the shooters, hired by the Territory and Municipal Service (TAMS) Directorate, and animal rights protesters went on as usual with protesters claiming some success in disrupting the shooting. TAMS reported more than $5000 worth of property damage, including about 30 holes to the predator-proof fence at Mulligans Flat Sanctuary, blamed on the activists.

A briefing note in the bundle of documents released by the government insists that the animals are not being treated as pests and that there is no intention to destroy local populations in their entirety. The science underpinning the annual cull has been questioned recently by the ACT Greens, but the undated briefing note, believed to have been drafted late last year or early this year, makes it clear that the government remains committed to the annual cull as the main method of controlling kangaroo numbers. ''Most of the culling is no longer reacting to existing damage,'' the note reads. ''As much as possible the culling is being managed as a preventative program. By culling a small population annually, rather than delaying for years, or reacting to damage, fewer animals are shot over the long term, and environmental damage can be avoided.''

The government also believes that not only is the kangaroo population increasing, but the animals are also moving into new areas of the capital. ''It is easy to under-recognise population growth,'' the briefing note said. ''It surprises many people that the kangaroo population in Canberra has increased dramatically in recent decades. 'Kangaroos are continuing to reach new sites in the urban area, and subsequently to increase gradually within each site. 'The population growth rate typically observed during drought was 17-20 per cent annual increase.'' The note's authors argue that the cull has taken the place of large predator species, which have either been made extinct or removed from the environment, in controlling the number of kangaroos and the damage they do to the habitat of native birds, frogs and small marsupials.

''In some places, these include threatened species such as grassland earless dragons, striped legless lizards and hooded robins,'' the briefing says. ''In the absence of the top predators, in the temperate climatic zone, large native herbivores like deer and eastern grey kangaroos can increase in abundance to the point that they maintain the ground layer vegetation in an eaten down condition. ''To protect the populations of small animals and the health of the ecosystem, kangaroo grazing needs to be kept at moderate levels. ''In this sense the culling is filling the role of the missing predators.'' *Canberra Times

UNESCO has handed the State and Australian Governments an ultimatum. Do more to protect the Great Barrier Reef or risk it being listed as in danger. The warning came at a World Heritage Committee meeting in Russia on Thursday and follows the release of a UNESCO report, which provided a damning assessment of the mining industry's impact on the natural gem. The committee has requested a progress report on the conservation of the reef by next February to ascertain whether the Government has implemented any of UNESCO's recommendations. In the absence of any substantial progress, the committee will consider putting the reef on the list of world heritage in danger. The committee also requested Australia not permit any further developments outside existing major port areas. Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke said the committee's decision required careful consideration. "We will need to determine appropriate responses to the recommendations, keeping in mind that many of the recommendations reinforce processes that are already well underway," Mr Burke said.

In Queensland, Environment Minister Andrew Powell said the State Government would continue to address UNESCO's concerns. "This includes pursuing a strategic ports plan to ensure development occurs in a measured and responsible manner in the future," he said. Greenpeace senior climate campaigner John Hepburn said it was time for a moratorium on major developments with potential to impact the value of the reef. "It is not surprising that the World Heritage Committee is deeply concerned about Australia's lack of action to defend the Reef from the potential consequences of significant industrial development on the coast," he said. "Gladstone Harbour, which has been dramatically impacted by LNG developments, could set a precedent for what is ahead up and down the World Heritage Area if all the coal industry plans proceed." * Sunshine Coast Daily

Body Parts Found

A grizzly sight and a pungent smell greeted those who travelled the Mudgee end of Hill End Road this week, where a mound of dismembered deer, kangaroo and feral pig parts lay scattered by the side of the road for around two days. Mudgee High School adult literacy teacher and wildlife carer Holly Manwaring discovered the bloody scene about eight kilometres along the road on Tuesday at midday during a visit with a friend to Blacklea Vineyard. Graphic photos taken that day show a mess of beheaded deer carcasses, kangaroo legs and tails, animal skins and what appear to be some pig parts. The gruesome pile also included intestines and organs of the animals that had been spilled onto the ground. “The blood hadn’t oxidised when we found it, so it was clearly all still very fresh,” Ms Manwaring said.

“It was clear the animals had been deliberately hacked and cut up by someone and dumped there, as they had cut off the deer heads and skinned different parts, but I just don’t understand why. “My friend was visiting from Hawaii, and she obviously thought it was a pretty grim site too.” Ironically, on their return home, the duo spotted a large - and very much alive - buck kangaroo racing through a paddock and then across the road less than a kilometre from the site of the body parts.“Kangaroos usually travel with their family or in social groups, not by themselves, so it was really strange to see one out at that time moving that fast – almost in a panic, searching,” Ms Manwaring said. My concern is what kind of a society are we living in if we’re immune to mutilated animals dumped on the side of the road? She contacted the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Mudgee Police around 2pm, who in turn contacted Mid-Western Regional Council early Thursday morning after investigating the location.

A council operations team acted immediately to remove the parts, which had begun to rot by the roadside. Ms Manwaring was disturbed by the lack of concern shown by motorists who drove straight past the scene and by some local officials who to her knowledge did not file a report on the incident. “My concern is what kind of a society are we living in if we’re immune to mutilated animals dumped on the side of the road?” she said. “I have so many questions about it – was this the result of a few school-age guys going shooting, mutilating animals and having a laugh about it? “And what if children saw what I did and their parents treated the sight without care? What would that teach them? “Plus, when you think about it further, there’s statistics that show that people who do this to animals are capable of doing this to humans as well – and that’s very concerning.” Ms Manwaring urged Mudgee region residents to be on the alert for any further behaviour that might explain the incident, which she described as a case of cruelty to animals. A spokesperson for Mid-Western Regional Council said discoveries like Ms Manwaring’s unfortunately occurred quite regularly, and that council had spoken to police about it and understood they were aware of the issue. * Mudgee Guardian

Tassie Devils

Scientists say strong evidence is emerging that the catastrophic Tasmanian devil facial tumour disease should be regarded as a parasite. The disease, which has wiped out 80 per cent of the devil population in the wild, has been treated as a transmissible cancer. But immunologist Greg Woods from the Menzies Institute says it also shows many classic parasitical characteristics. "It's a cancer and a parasite," he told AAP before delivering his findings to the Australian Society for Parasitology's conference in Launceston. "It goes from host to host and using each host to survive, and it will damage its host and move on to the next host so it's behaving like what we classically regard as being a parasite." Also like a bona fide parasite, it uses the host's natural behaviour to spread itself, in this case the devil's insatiable appetite for violence. "You drink water so you pick up a parasite," Associate Professor Woods said. "With the devil, the tumour gets on the teeth and devils bite each other."

There is other evidence too - the disease avoids the immune response of the devil by covering itself in its host's proteins. The question remains, though, whether it can be considered a "perfect" parasite like malaria because it has not yet managed to survive in more than one species. But it is its parasitic behaviour that makes the tumour disease fundamentally different from the form of cancer that humans contract, Prof Woods said. "The question is: Are cancers parasites because they live off the host?" he said. "The thing about the cancer that us humans get is that once the human dies or recovers the cancer dies as well, whereas this tumour goes from host to host." The origin of the disease has been traced to a single cell in a single female devil in the 1990s but it is unknown how she contracted it. Scientists are in a race against the clock to find a cure, with some estimates suggesting devils in the wild could be extinct in 25 years, and there have been few breakthroughs. * NTNews

If creatures such as the Tasmanian devil become extinct, hundreds of other species may perish with them. Professor Ian Beverage, from the University of Melbourne, said nobody knew exactly how many species of internal parasites lived inside Tasmanian devils. Prof Beverage, speaking at the Australian Society for Parasitology conference in Launceston yesterday, said the 20cm-long tapeworm (Dasyurotaenia robusta) that lived in devils had been listed as endangered as the facial tumour disease cut through wild devil populations and could already be extinct. Androo Kelly, operator of the Trowanna Devil Park at Mole Creek, said large tapeworms were still alive and well in the Trowanna devils. Mr Kelly and Prof Beverage said the worms and other microscopic parasitic animals that lived in native wildlife were important. Prof Beverage said if the parasites were culled in devils when they were exiled or taken into zoos as insurance populations, those species would be lost. And devils, without such parasites, could be more vulnerable to diseases when they were released back into the wild.
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The death toll of vulnerable green sea turtles south of Townsville has shown no signs of slowing down, with more sick animals washing up on beaches today. Queensland authorities have carried out two helicopter surveys after more than 20 of the vulnerable species, mostly adult females, were discovered washed up on beaches around Upstart Bay last week. Two more were found today on Wunjunga Beach, about 100 kilometres south of Townsville, and their cause of death continue to baffle scientists. A total of 73 dead turtles have now been discovered. Marty McLaughlin, operations manager at Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services, says the turtles were nourished with no obvious signs of illness. "This is classified as an unusual event," Mr McLaughlin said.

"We now have better data about the number of turtles, but they are continuing to wash up. "We still can't rule out poisoning as toxicology reports have yet to be finalised." The department says the results from toxicology will be known over the next two weeks. The deaths have come just weeks after a damning UNESCO report criticising Australia's management of the Great Barrier Reef, an important feeding area for green sea turtles. The species is considered vulnerable under national legislation and a loss of just one breeding sized individual can have an impact on the population. Most of the green turtles found dead have been adult females, with some adult males and adolescents as well. Adults have a shell length of about one metre and average about 130 kg, although some nesting females can weigh more than 180 kg. * AAP