Monday, September 10, 2012

Wildlife Bytes 11/9/12

Editorial.....Wildlife Trafficking

Conservation groups report that for many endangered species, internet wildlife trading is now the principal threat to their survival. For several years now, animal welfare groups have known that illegal wildlife trading would proliferate across the internet. Now, several groups are claiming that illegal trafficking is by far the number one threat to the survival of endangered species. Back in 2005, the UK branch of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), released a report called Caught in the Web: Wildlife Trade on the Internet; in it, the conservation group revealed that they had found more than 9,000 wild animals and animal products for sale in just one week on eBay.
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There are no precise figures on the scale of the wildlife trafficking problem, but Global Financial Integrity, a Washington-based lobby group, last year estimated the global illegal wildlife trade to be worth at least £5bn or $6.5 billion Aussie dollars! Various reporting systems and investigations suggest commercial exploitation of many 'at risk species' has reached – or is close to – all-time high.

Meanwhile, the Guardian newspaper rsays that "a report is due to be published later this year, concludes that a growing proportion of wildlife crime is using "deep web" tools more commonly associated with serious financial criminals, drug traffickers and child pornographers." "The internet has without a doubt facilitated the huge expansion of illegal international wildlife trading over the last decade," said Crawford Allan, of the wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic. "Rare jewels of the forest can now be caught, boxed and shipped almost overnight just like any other express commodity."  This week we at WPAA attended a presentation  by TRAFFIC about the escalation of wildlife trading in (mostly) Indonesia and Malaysia. The photos we saw were horrific, and while landclearing and development is a major wildlife threat in Australia, there is no doubt the huge trade in wildlife for medicines and food in Asia is pushing many of their rare species closer to the brink of extinction. In Austalia we hear reports of turtle and dugong meat being taken to Asia on fishing boats, but the main illegal exports from Australia are believed to be for pet wildlife..birds and reptiles. Although the Australian illegal wildlife trade is believed to be huge, noone really knows for sure just how huge.......

More than 80 per cent of our mammals, reptiles and frogs, most of our freshwater fish and almost half of our birds can be found nowhere else in the World. But our unusual fauna is fast disappearing. Australia has 782 threatened animals on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature red list, second only to the USA.  Twenty per cent of Australian mammals are threatened and 18 Australian mammal species have become extinct in the last two centuries – almost half of all mammal extinctions worldwide over the past 200 years. * WPAA

Flying Foxes

On Threatened Species Day 2012, in a totally politically motivated decision, the Queensland  government announced that farmers would be allowed to shoot flying foxes! More details below.....


The NSW O'Farrell government has backed down on their proposal to allow children as young as twelve to hunt unsupervised on public land.  The proposal that children be allowed to hunt on public land unsupervised, with packs of dogs, bows and arrows, and bowie knives, was a result of the unholy alliance Barry O'Farrell has struck in the NSW Upper House with the Shooters Party and Fred Nile's Christian Democratic Party. Through collective action, wildlife and  animal welfare groups, and members of the community working together, have forced the government's hand.  With over 300 individual submissions, hundreds of petitions and continued pressure on government MPs, this awful proposal was stpped in its tracks. *WPAA

Keppel Island Development

Just to clarify what we want: We support the re-development of the resort on the existing 38 hectare site. We oppose the development of Lot 21 (875 ha) for villas and a golf course. We support the state government’s assessment that Lot 21 be reserved for conservation purposes. The current lease of Lot 21 is for recreation and public access, not real estate.
We oppose the building of a marina at Putney Beach due to the damage that will be caused to the sensitive marine environment in the vicinity including fringing coral reefs.    ALSO The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) responses to the state government are due at the end of next week (7th September) and the Federal response to the EIS is due on the 22nd of October. I will be emailing out a template for you to add comments and email to the respective parties early next week. If you could take the time to send in a submission that would really help support the island. Thanks for your help and support, regards, The Saving GKI Team PO box 666 Yeppoon, QLD, 4703 *Network Item

The sea off Townsville has been found to be a death zone for the endangered dugong. A James Cook University survey undertaken last year to determine dugong numbers along the Queensland coast found Townsville's waters were as lethal as Gladstone's polluted harbour when it came to dugong habitat and survival. The report's negative findings on Townsville and Gladstone were based on the degradation of seagrass beds in waters adjacent to both port cities.  James Cook University Professor Helene Marsh said no dugong calves were seen in southern reef waters during the survey. She said the survey team could only conclude that dugong numbers were the lowest since the mid-1980s. "The results show a reduction in fertility in response to the extreme weather conditions of 2011," she said. Prof Marsh said category 5 Cyclone Yasi in February last year hastened what was already a deterioration of the dugong's seagrass feeding grounds. She said the aerial survey estimates of dugong numbers in Moreton Bay and Hervey Bay were t "about 3000". The figures for the Great Barrier Reef waters were not so encouraging. "It was a different story for the southern Great Barrier Reef region where the estimated size of the dugong population was put at 500 to 600. This is the lowest figure since surveys began in 1986," she said. Prof Marsh said the numbers of calves seen in Moreton and Hervey bays were proportionate to adult herd numbers and seasonal conditions. This was not the case for the reef waters. "No calves were seen in the southern Great Barrier Reef waters during the 2011 survey.  "This indicates a reduction in fertility in response to the extreme weather in 2011 which accelerated the decline in their seagrass beds," she said. Prof Marsh said dugong mortalities in 2011 were the highest on record. * Townsville Buletin

First part of campaign to save dugongs and sea turtles done.

Watch Video

Giant Catfish

Giant catfish are becoming an increasing problem in German rivers and lakes, with one monstrous 2.5-metre specimen even said to be eating swans in a river it has emptied of all other fish. Some are even becoming cannibals. Ducks and even swans on the Isen River in Upper Bavaria have to fear for their lives, Die Welt newspaper reported on Saturday, because they are being targeted by the giant fish.  Fishermen have been alarmed by the increasing number – and size – of the catfish, which have no natural predators and grow their entire lives, the paper reported.  “The fish are not actually known to eat members of their own species, but by now they are also doing this,” Manfred Holzner, head of the local fisherman’s association told the newspaper tz. Controlling their population is difficult - the fish themselves are notoriously tricky to catch, and nets are generally outlawed in the affected waters, Die Welt said.
 *German Local News

Rock Wallabies

A survey of endangered Proserpine rock wallabies on Gloucester Island National Park in the Whitsundays has found their numbers are strong but limited by the amount of rainforest on the rugged island. Rock wallabies are thought to be a remnant species from an ancient time when much of Australia was covered in rainforest. The north Queensland island colony was found in 1988 and the species is known in just a handful of other sites, including an introduced population on nearby Hayman Island and on the mainland. It's thought fewer than 1000 survive. The survey led by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service senior ranger Barry Nolan trapped 60 wallabies and found they are thriving. National Parks Minister Steve Dickson said the survey conducted with resource management group Reef Catchments and Wild Mob conservationists included taking blood and DNA samples. These would be compared with the mainland population and as a baseline for other studies. "Of the 39 males and 21 females captured, 17 were of breeding size with pouch-young ranging from newly born to fully furred joeys," Mr Dickson said. Gloucester has rocky outcrops and rock piles covered with dry vine scrub which appears critical to the survival of the species which is the only rock wallaby that lives exclusively in rainforests. "The isolated nature of Gloucester ... means there is none of the threats that the mainland populations faced, such as land clearing, habitat fragmentation, feral dogs and cats and vehicles," Mr Dickson said. *Courier Mail

Sustainable Farming
More than ever, Australian farmers are under pressure to produce more food, and to do it in a way that doesn't damage the environment. How this can be achieved is being discussed at the National Landcare conference on in Sydney this week. Andrew Stewart from the Otway Agroforestry Network in south west Victoria says farmers involved his network are proving that conservation and profit are not mutually exclusive. The network is a Landcare group with over 200 members, focussed on supporting landholders to establish and manage trees and shrubs on their property. The Stewart family has revegetated 17 per cent of its 230 hectare grazing property near Colac with a mix of native and exotic trees. The result has been an increase in bird species, development of a new income stream from tree products and no loss of agricultural productivity. Meanwhile in south east South Australia, farmers are revegetating the landscape, to help preserve 70 nationally listed threatened species, including the Red-tailed Black Cockatoo. This cockatoo depends almost entirely on the seeds of Brown and Desert Stringybark and Buloke trees. Clearance of these trees across south east South Australia and south west Victoria are the main threat to the bird's survival. *ABC Rural

AZWH Patient of the Week ... Oliver the Koala Joey
Age: 5 months Weight: 280g Sex: Male Found: At the base of a tree at Amity Point, Stradbroke Island, with his mother in the tree above. Koalas are still pouch-bound at 5 months, so he may have fallen or mum might have accidentally kicked him out. Transported to: The Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital for specialised care. Veterinary Assessment: Dr Robyn assessed little Oliver on arrival, and found he was dehydrated and suffering from a chest infection. Treatment: Oliver was administered fluids and antibiotics, and is now being kept warm in a humidicrib in the Nursery ICU. Future: Oliver will remain in care at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital for at least the next couple of days. He will be transferred to a registered wildlife carer once his infection clears up. AZWH Statistic: We are about to enter our busiest time of year with the start of koala breeding season. Please keep an eye out for sick or injured koalas and any babies that may be around. If you do find an orphaned koala, please give us a call! *AZWH


Sharks are very misunderstood animals and receive a largely undeserved reputation as vicious animals, although they have a unique "sixth sense" that allows them to locate their true, much smaller, prey. These are some of the findings from research conducted by the Sydney Aquarium into shark behaviour. There are more than 350 species of shark, but only four or five are considered to be dangerous to humans, the aquarium says.For most sharks something as big as a human would not be considered as prey as we are too large, it says. Instead they may think of us as a threat and prefer to stay as far away as possible. Attacks on humans in the wild are not as common as the media would indicate, and deaths are even rarer, the aquarium says. *SMH
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Conservation groups meeting in South Korea Tuesday urged governments to take steps to save sharks and rays from overfishing for international trade. The Wildlife Conservation Society and more than 35 government agency and NGO partners issued the call at the International Union for Conservation of Nature's World Conservation Congress in Jeju, a WCS release reported Tuesday. They say they want sharks and rays listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, the 175-member treaty that regulates international trade in animal and plant species. *   Read more  ..


A breeding pair of endangered osprey trying to nest on a Telstra telephone tower have been given a frosty reception.  The birds have perched on the tower in Streaky Bay's town centre  - but the giant telco wants them moved. "Telstra was approached by the local parks authority about this matter and we suggested the most  appropriate course of action  for consideration would be  to relocate the birds to a more  suitable location," a Telstra spokeswoman said. But Streaky Bay fisherman Jeff Schmucker said the endangered birds had "made up their mind". The birds would now be extremely reluctant to move from their fine vantage point, he said, adding: "Let's have a platform on the Telstra tower, right in the middle of town, and put a camera on it. "People can log in on the net and watch the eggs hatch. "Come on, Telstra. "These guys are catching fish right underneath the tower, right by the jetty at Streaky Bay." A spokeswoman for the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources said a 5m-high nesting platform has been installed on the shores of Streaky Bay, 5km from the tower. "Osprey typically nest near a body of water ... it is hoped the birds will decide to nest at this new location in coming weeks," she said. The species is on the endangered list in South Australia, but numbers have increased slightly thanks to human intervention. There are about 50 or 60 breeding pairs in SA. *Adelaide Now


It is the new delicacy of choice among Vietnam's high-rollers. When the young, fashionable and rich gather to party, they increasingly spice up their drink with a special ingredient: rhino horn powder. These status-conscious hedonists include men who believe it can enhance their sexual performance. They apparently care little that their obsession could drive a glorious animal to extinction. Between 1990 and 2005, poachers in South Africa killed an average of 14 rhinos a year. Since then the number has soared. In 2010, 333 rhinos were poached. Last year, it was 448. So far this year, 339 rhinos have been killed, putting 2012 on course to be the deadliest since records began.
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In 30 years of fighting poachers, Paul Onyango had never seen anything like this. Twenty-two dead elephants, including several very young ones, clumped together on the open savannah, many killed by a single bullet to the top of the head. Africa is in the midst of an epic elephant slaughter. Conservation groups say poachers are wiping out tens of thousands of elephants a year, more than at any time in the previous two decades, with the underground ivory trade becoming increasingly militarised. Like blood diamonds from Sierra Leone or plundered minerals from Congo, ivory, it seems, is the latest conflict resource in Africa, dragged out of remote battle zones, easily converted into cash and now fueling conflicts across the continent. Read more:

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 *


Sporting giant Adidas has agreed to end the use of kangaroo leather for the prestige boots worn by Premier League football stars following complaints of animal cruelty. Animal welfare groups have been calling for a boycott amid concerns over the culling of the kangaroos involved, which is known to involve shooting the adults and clubbing the young to death. In the past, all the major manufacturers have used kangaroo skin for boots worn by stars from David Beckham to Frank Lampard and John Terry. Beckham stopped wearing kangaroo leather boots in 2006 after he was given details of the controversial slaughter methods, but other stars and firms like Adidas refused to stop using the skins. Now Adidas, which is German owned, has revealed its famous Predator brand boots are now made without kangaroo skin and it will reduce its use of the material by 98per cent over the next 12 months. The move by Adidas followed pressure from ethical investors, specifically the British organisation Co-op Asset Management.

The firm said: ‘We engaged with Adidas in connection with their continued use of kangaroo leather. We noted positively the successful transition of the Predator range that no longer contains kangaroo leather and that within the next 12 months Adidas will have reduced their sourcing volume for kangaroo leather by 98 per cent.’ British animal welfare group Viva! has worked closely with the Australian Wildlife Protection Council(AWPC) in campaigns to prevent the sale of kangaroo products, including meat. Both yesterday issued a guarded joint congratulation to the German giant for its ethical decision to move away from the use of wildlife in its global business. They said the move will save thousands of these animals from being shot and spare their babies from being clubbed to death. Other boot manufacturers are also cutting their use of kangaroo skin following animal welfare group campaigns.

In many parts of Australia, kangaroo numbers are so large that they are regarded as pests. Millions of adults are shot each year for their meat and skin and it is estimated that around 885,000 baby kangaroos or joeys and dependent young are decapitated, shot or beaten to death every year, then discarded as ‘waste’. Viva!’s founder and director, Juliet Gellatley, who launched the ‘Save the Kangaroo’ in Britain in 1997, said: ‘The slaughter of kangaroos is the world’s biggest massacre of terrestrial wildlife, carried out by a country with the world’s worst record for species extinction. ‘We have harried and opposed the Australian killing industry for more than a decade with considerable success. This latest move away from kangaroo leather is because Viva! has tarnished Adidas’ image and therefore their profitability. You can’t be a ‘little bit’ pregnant and you can’t be a little bit immoral so we urge Adidas to drop kangaroo completely.’ Philip Woolley, EU Campaign Director of the AWPC and head of international operations, said: ‘Having worked tirelessly for over ten years to get sports companies like Adidas to stop using kangaroo skin, the news of Adidas dropping their use on ethical and animal welfare grounds, is just a fantastic result. * Daily Mail

Ed Comment; Wildlife and animal welfare groups have been lobbying Adidas for many years over its extensive use of kangaroo skins in their footware. Many protests by local groups were held outside the Adidas factory in Germany, even in the winter snow, and many letters have been sent to them, and the replies from Adidas have been condescending to say the least. Now they have 'bitten the bullet' and decided to stop using kangaroo skins. Congratulations to everyone who wrote to Adidas....your letters finally worked!  This will be another blow for a dead kangaroo Industry that keeps on twitching. We are also hearing that Coles and Woolworths have been doing their own health testing on kangaroo meat, and are considering wether they should continue to sell it.


In Australia, the question is not why did the emu cross the road, but how? Australian road officials have proposed building emu underpasses beneath the east coast Pacific Highway so a population of endangered flightless emu can safely cross one of Australia's busiest and most dangerous roads. But wildlife experts say the emu, the world's 3rd largest bird and one which can run as fast as 50 kph (30mph), is unlikely to use the underpasses. "Emus are big birds with little brains," said Gary Whale of Birdlife Australia. The New South Wales state roads authority said it was working on a plan to minimize the impact of a Pacific Highway upgrade on a small emu population on Australia's east coast. Between 20 and 40 people have died on the Pacific Highway each year over the last decade, prompting authorities to spend hundreds of millions of dollars upgrading the highway to get rid of accident prone "black spots". But Birdlife Australia said the suggested new route of the highway would bisect emu foraging and breeding areas and endanger the lives of the emus in Clarence Valley. "It could see the extinction of the coastal emu," said Whale.

Special pathways to "provide safe passage under bridges" were being considered as part of an environmental impact statement, said a spokesperson for the New South Wales Roads and Maritime Service. "There are also four dedicated underpass structures designed for the emus, three 5.5 meters (18 feet) high and the other four meters (13 feet) high," said the spokesperson. Emus can stand up to two meters (6.6 ft) tall. Animal highway tunnels already exist for koalas and reptiles and suspension rope bridges span the Pacific Highway for animals like possums. A final decision on the emu underpasses will be made later in the year, but Whale said he was pessimistic about the birds ever using them, given their lack of intelligence - a problem that can make it hard simply to shoo them out of fenced fields. "(Farmers) open their gate to try and encourage them to go out," Whale said. "Five meters away the emu is butting at a five-strand fence, but can't work out that there is an opening there that it can get through." *Rueters

Flying Foxes

Day of shame: Threatened Species Day marks the start to shooting threatened flying-foxes in Queensland. Queensland will re-introduce the shooting of flying foxes today - ironically on Threatened Species Day.  Two of the species to be shot - grey headed and spectacled - are listed as vulnerable by the Federal Government. State Environment Minister Andrew Powell will allow farmers to shoot flying foxes despite the Government's Animal Welfare Advisory Committee finding it is inhumane. Outright kills are difficult and young left at camps by lactating mothers die slow deaths from dehydration. In an effort to make the process as humane as possible, only farmers can apply for permits, they must use 12-gauge shotguns with heavy shot and only on stationary animals rather than those in flight. An annual quota of 10,580 will be set for four species. The kill will be 4000 little reds, 3500 blacks, 1280 grey headed and 1800 spectacled flying foxes. Blacks and reds are common. Mr Powell said the numbers to be shot would be about the same as when shooting was last allowed four years ago and he was confident culling could be done humanely. Farmers could obtain a permit to shoot only if they had proved non-lethal methods had failed. Quotas would be set for individual orchards and farmers would identify species.

"Farmers are aware of which species are in their area and the department will keep an eye on this," Mr Powell said. Conservationist Carol Booth said the decision was in marked contrast to government regulations in June to reduce cruelty towards turtles and dugong during some indigenous hunts. Dr Booth said growers could protect crops more effectively with nets, which could cost as little as $8000 per hectare. Stanthorpe nectarine grower Ian Mungall said netting cost about $60,000 a hectare and was not viable unless subsidised by the Government. Growers did not want to shoot native animals but saw it as an economic necessity. The new code is available on the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection's website along with the necessary permit application forms, returns of operation and a fact sheet providing further information.

Dear Batty friends...Network Item

As you may or may not know the LNP passed a bill today to reintroduce the shooting of Flying foxes. This was banned in 2008 on the basis of animal cruelty as bats were left to die in agony in orchards and babies on board left to starve to death. Greys, Black and Reds are included in the quota which is 10,500 bats but of course this is un controlled estimate and babies on board are not counted. What is equally as despicable is the message that this sends out to all people who don't like bats and have the means to shoot a bat. They have now been told it is OK! The person responsible for getting this bill passed is the Environment Minister Andrew Powell - who administers that part of the Nature Conservation Act. It was done by amending a regulation so that the shooting bats bill didn't have to be passed by Parliament.  Just disgusting. Please rally all of your friends everywhere and ask them to go to this website and say what they think.

There is a section on the top right hand corner "A quick word with Andrew" you can use and there is another section where you can identify yourself and have your say.
Please do this. It will not cancel out the bill but our Bat friends needs us to all rally together and show them that we care and are not just sitting back and crying about this. I have sent this email without consulting the committee however I doubt if anyone would disapprove. Here is the website address for Andrew Powell.     Thanks and regards, Network Item


Firearms are flowing into Australia at more than double the rate of five years ago, triggering fears about public safety. The weapons are being legally imported but gun-control advocates are warning of a marked increase in the risk of shootings and other gun crime. Customs figures show 85,035 handguns, rifles, shotguns, military firearms and air firearms were legally imported into Australia last year, up from 39,389 in 2006.  The popularity of handguns has exploded, from 5876 to 19,561, while imported air guns have increased from 106 to 8452. During that time, detections of illegal firearms at Australia's borders has decreased 66 per cent from 17,635 to 5922. Gun Control Australia spokesman and Tasmanian lawyer Roland Browne said Tasmania already had the nation's highest rate of licenced shooters and that the population of about 510,000 had about 35,000 licenced shooters and more than 126,500 registered guns. Mr Browne said in Tasmania between 100 and 150 firearms were stolen each year and the state had this year suffered a spate of shootings and gun thefts.

Gun Control Australia president John Crook said current licence testing was abysmal. "Everyone who sits in some areas passes, imagine that being the same for a doctor examination -- all they have to do is prove they won't shoot themselves in the foot and they get a licence," he said. "The public can expect the further weakening of gun laws, and it looks like the increase in gun numbers within Australia will continue." Mr Crook said the concern was not just that legal handguns were being poorly locked up, then stolen and put onto the black market, but the majority of gun massacres in Australia were carried out by legal gun owners. "Nearly all gun massacres were not done by criminals, they were done by people who legally owned guns," he said. Sporting Shooters Association of Australia executive director Tim Bannister said it was rare for legal firearms to be used in violent crimes. "Criminals are not the ones asking for police checks and applying for gun licences," he said. "Gun owners are actually the most law-abiding people in the country they have to be, with the continued scrutiny they are under," he said. He said member numbers had grown to 144,000 nationally, triggered by increased animal numbers because of the drought and the association's ability to attract people aged under 40. Police sources agreed with Mr Bannister, saying their main worry was the hundreds of thousands of illegal firearms in Australia rather than registered firearms falling into the wrong hands * Mercury