Loss of habitat

I am in total despair as I watch so much habitat around the Sunshine Coast being cleared. What a sense of loss this brings, and not only for the wildlife. It is heartbreaking, especially when there is often little or no plant life left standing. To see tree hollows among the piles of bulldozed trees is even more distressing as it is a well-known fact that tree hollows are a very long time in the making, and there is already a housing crisis in the wildlife world.

There is always some explanations – “the decision was made by a previous government”, “our hands are tied”, “the developers are following procedure”. If that’s the best the authorities can do, then it is time they made some effective changes to legislation to prevent this devastation of our country.

It would be interesting to see a published list of the animals that were relocated from some of these sites. How many wildlife species were actually relocated, to where and what was the outcome? Is there a recording of the dead after the trees have been felled? Last year I had two little lorikeet chicks brought to me the day after major highway clearing. Their nests had not been noted the previous day, either in the tree or after they crashed on the ground. Fortunately for them, a site worker (who also happens to be a WILVOS carer) stumbled over them the following day and they were rehabilitated. There is no way this is an isolated incident. There is no happy ending for wildlife when habitat is cleared. Put a bulldozer down my street and see how many distraught people there are. Oh, but of course, animals don’t have feelings!

When we have so called ‘experts’ in the field saying that wildlife doesn’t experience a sense of loss or mourn their friends, then what hope is there? I think most people have seen animals, whether it be a bird, horse, kangaroo or dog, mourn over the death of one of their own. Many saw the footage of the male kangaroo trying to lift the dead female. I did wonder that if it was a female distressed over the death of another female kangaroo (and yes I have seen this happen) would the question of sexual orientation have been up for discussion? Just when there is a nice animal story out there, experts have to destroy the vision. Wouldn’t it have been better to just shut up and have people across the world picture our wildlife in a compassionate way, and portray Australians as actually caring!

Let’s hope 2016 sees an improvement in our laws and in our general perception of all animals.

Feeding

After the recent inclement weather, we can always expect plenty of calls on the WILVOS Hotline. Often the same scenarios arise. Birds come in sick and emaciated after eating grain which has become damp and toxic.

This is another reason for not feeding wild birds. The strongest argument is that when birds congregate in large numbers, such as at feeding stations in our back yards, it means that disease can be transferred very easily from one sick bird to the rest of the flock.

In the case of putting grain out, as soon as this grain becomes damp it begins to ferment and ends up not being nutritious, but pure poison! It is not unusual to have half a dozen galahs come into care soon after hot and wet weather.

A daily fresh water supply is the best we can do for our birds, with a little fresh cut up fruit if weather is wet for weeks.

Someone also asked me about the Water Dragons along Petrie Creek near the Woolworths Plaza. Apparently people throw bread and other food over the railing for them. It really is not a good idea as the reptiles do contract health issues, especially from continual ingestion of bread. Hey everyone there are no bread trees out there, as one of our veterinarian trainers always tells us! It is not a natural food!

Sadly, two exquisite young Rainbow Bee-eaters came into my care after being found on the side of the road by a couple of lads who had the common sense to ring up immediately they arrived home. These birds, though so delicate in appearance, dig a tunnel in the flat ground or into an embankment. This is about a metre long with an egg shaped ‘nest’ at the end. Where these two birds were found, the road was being widened so they had been ‘dug up’. Due to severe fractures in both birds, they had to be euthanized at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital. Not a pleasant task for them also. It was a very sad outcome, but they were saved from a slow death on the road by being picked up. The lads also advised exactly where they were found so they could be returned if they had been able to be rehabilitated.

Welcoming in 2016

WILVOS Hotline has provided a great service 24 hours a day over the holiday period and it has been extremely busy. I must admit I thought my phone wasn’t working on Boxing Day when I didn’t receive one call for wildlife in distress.

It has been a time for quite a variety of native animals to come my care. A tiny four-gram feather tail glider tests my eyesight as I feed her, while the little Pale-headed Rosella chicks noisily await their next crop feeding.

They are in stark contrast to the Kookaburra chick that looks so big in comparison but is such a baby. Looking at me with those beautiful big eyes over that sturdy beak just melts my heart! Found on the ground, with no parents in sight, he was pitifully weak and thin but has an appetite which is soon correcting that problem.

Pipsqueak, the little Red-necked Pademelon, is still pondering on whether she is a macropod or a Guinea Pig! My two guinea pigs free-range in my yard and I call them my little ferals! A new friend has joined them. An agile wallaby was brought down from up north by travellers who found him on the side of the road, but eventually he will be returned to his home territory.
One of our release officers released my largest Brushtail Possum back home to the beautiful forest where he and his Mum had been hit by a car. Hopefully Wappa has learned some road sense and will not venture near the traffic. His departure made way for one of the other possums to move into the larger aviary and Meg, the new resident Brushtail Possum in that aviary, is sulking because she is now on only one milk formula drink a day.

I was sorry to say good-bye also to four Squirrel Gliders, but they had outgrown their aviary, and were moved on to another wildlife carer. I will miss their antics and gurgling protests when disturbed. These animals were all saved by wonderful members of the public who took the time to make a phone call when they saw either an injured or orphaned native animal.

Our sincere thanks, and I hope 2016 is the very best year for everyone.