Tag Archives: Wildlife rescue

Recognising a selfless occupation

VOLUNTEERING is part of the fabric of Warrandyte.
In October the community voted on who they think should be the next recipient of the Community Spirit Award, an award sponsored by the Warrandyte Community Bank Branch in honour of outstanding volunteer work in the community.
Achieving 90 per cent of the vote, Maxine Rosewall, who runs a wildlife shelter out of her North Warrandyte home for Help for Wildlife (HFW), was presented with her award at Warrandyte Community Bank’s AGM.
Sue Kirwan, HFW manager and friend, had these words to say in her nomination for Maxine.
“Maxine has been a wildlife carer for more than 20 years.
“This is a voluntary role with no government funding.
“She rescues and rehabilitates wildlife with a special passion for birds of prey.
“All expenses come from her own pocket and she is on call 24/7.
“She is also an active member of Help for Wildlife a state-wide volunteer organisation and charity.
“Maxine has a strong sense of community and has also been a volunteer at other local charity groups.”
When asked to list three words to describe Maxine, Sue chose dedicated, ethical and compassionate.
After meeting Maxine, it is hard to disagree with Sue’s words.
When I first asked Maxine her  thoughts about winning the award, she seemed perplexed.
“Because it was two volunteers being voted on, I thought that was a bit odd because volunteers do what they do for a different thing.”
But, as Lance Ward, Managing Director of Warrandyte Community Bank, told me — it is because of this that Maxine is the ideal recipient for this award.
“Working in and for the community, our directors see first-hand the good work being undertaken by volunteers and as such our Board decided to acknowledge and celebrate those wonderful folk who demonstrate the values of Community Spirit.
“There are many unsung volunteers working quietly from their homes and within community groups and clubs, the Community Spirit Award was created to put a spotlight on those working behind the scenes.
“Maxine is a shining example of a volunteer who has worked tirelessly ‘above and beyond’ for many, many, years.”
Maxine has had a passion for wildlife since she was a little girl in Eltham, where she used to visit a local wildlife carer and artist who looked after wild birds.
“There was a lady there and birds would fly through her windows… I was always finding an excuse to go up that street to be invited in to have a look.
“I think my fascination with birds started there.”
In 1998, Maxine moved to North Warrandyte and, under the guidance of renowned wildlife carer Ninon Phillips, learnt how to look after wild birds and other wildlife.
Maxine joined Help for Wildlife after receiving her wildlife shelter permit and has an aviary set up on her North Warrandyte property where she rehabilitates birds.
But Maxine’s compassion for birds does not just come from a childhood passion.
Maxine had a career in aviation but had to give it up for medical reasons and said “because I was winged, I can help them get their wings back.”
But work as a wildlife rescuer is emotionally taxing and there are, unfortunately, more bad news stories than good.
Maxine recounted several experiences where the animals had been involved in road accidents, animal attacks (from domestic pets) and of birds who end up tangled in barbed wire fences.
“There are rules of what gets saved, they have to be viable – the eyes have to be open, the ears have to be up and it is really hard to tell someone ‘I know it is alive but the chances that they will not make it are very high’.
“So we have to deeply think about that and how it will affect the public, but all of this is because of the public,” she said.
She said that nature and society living in close proximity is a large part of why these animals come off second best.
Bushfire can also inflict extended suffering on Australia’s indigenous species.
“Two months after the Bunyip fires we were getting called by farmers to come down and assess some of the larger roos — they had obviously been burned two months before, but it takes that long for the infection to get up their legs and then they just can’t move, and then it goes to organ failure and it is quite a long, torturous death actually.
“So we would go down there every weekend for a few months there and that will never leave me.
“And they weren’t all big old ones, they were little ones too — but it’s the kindest thing to do.
“There is a lot of that in what you do.”
While there is some support for wildlife shelters, carers and rescuers — Maxine spoke about a compassion fatigue session she attended, run by Help for Wildlife, which allowed Maxine and her peers to “get some things off their chest”.
The job is often distressing for both the carers and the wildlife and the opportunities to vent are limited.
Which makes Maxine’s recognition even more significant.
She also spoke about the recent bushfires in New South Wales and Queensland and the devastating impact that has had on the koala population.
“The politics involved in the koalas getting all that money has put a lot of other groups out, but that money can set the reseeding of that area with the koalas for the next 25 years and that is a wonderful thing.
“If I lived up there and looked after another species there is no way I would be jealous or anything like that – it’s all in.”
She says she tries to avoid the politics.
“It’s also an area that has a lot of politics in it, but working on my own I never got to see that side — really — so much time and effort goes into [politicking], you could be doing something else that is beneficial.”
While Maxine’s work and attitude is inspiring, she recounts how she is also inspired by some of the random acts of human kindness she has witnessed.
From donations by locals to Help for Wildlife to the community of Doreen who rallied together, with help from the Doreen Produce shop who bought vital food and equipment to help farmers affected by the Bunyip bushfires.
Maxine dedicates her life to helping injured wildlife and making sure the other Help for Wildlife shelters around the State are OK.
She liaises with Sue Kirwan during the summer, keeping her informed on the fire danger rating and weather conditions.
Maxine offered her congratulations to co-finalist Louise Callaghan on her  nomination and wished her the best for her community projects, and gave thanks to the Warrandyte Community Bank and to Sue for her nomination.
Maxine does not expect recognition for her passion which is why she is fully deserving of this award.

Saving Georgia

UPDATED (17.7.2018)

Kangaroo shot with an arrow returns home

GEORGIA the kangaroo, who was rescued last month after being shot by an arrow, has now been reunited with to her family in North Warrandyte.

Wildlife carer, Manfred Zabinskas oversaw Georgia’s rehabilitation for almost a month before returning her and her joey to their Bradleys Lane home range.

“She has other young ones here and her joey will be able to join its siblings, this is home for her, this is where she belongs,” he said.

Manfred said she coped very well during her month-long convalescence and is pleased she has made a 100 per cent recovery.

“Seeing her recover so calmly and to start eating grass and hop with reasonable composure was just a massive relief.

“It is always great to save an animal that needs care, but it seems so much more important when they have been victims of abuse and cruelty like that,” he said.

Police are still keen to hear from anyone with information that can lead to the arrest of the perpetrator.

“Someone knows how this has happened, and you will be shocked to see how often this does occur on our wildlife,” said Manfred.

Please call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 if you can assist.

To learn more about Manfred’s work with wildlife to donate to his wildlife shelter: fivefreedoms.com.au

Saving Georgia

A HORRIFYING thing happened in North Warrandyte in mid-May.

A young kangaroo with a joey in her pouch was cruelly shot by an arrow, left to wander the riverbank with a target-shooting arrow lodged in her back.

The community rallied to rescue the injured roo when she was spotted in a Bradleys Lane backyard sporting her unwanted accessory.

Residents alerted local wildlife carers, and the rescue effort, coordinated by Libby Annand and Liz McNeil began.

Liz and Libby arranged for a specialist volunteer wildlife carer, Manfred Zabinskas to capture the injured animal.

After a two-hour drive from Trentham, two attempts and several hours of patient waiting, Manfred was able to administer a tranquiliser dart and take the kangaroo to the vet for surgery.

Dr James Taylor, assisted by Robyn Ireland, performed the life-saving procedure at the Box Hill Veterinary Hospital, with the vets giving their services free of charge for native animals.

“She ended up having a worse injury than we had thought, at first we thought that the arrow had just gone in under the skin,” Manfred told the Diary.

After they removed the arrow they discovered she had a deep infection and necrotic tissue and realised the arrow had been in there more than a week.

“She had to have quite substantial surgery, and the vet had to do some serious stitching work, so the wound site is quite substantial now — there is quite a bit to heal — but it will heal a lot better now that the vet has removed all of the affected tissue,” he said.

“It is almost impossible to get on top of an infection with antibiotics but if you get rid of all of the infected tissue and just prevent further infection it is a lot more successful.”

What they also discovered was that she had a little joey in her pouch.

“A little pinkie around two months old, that is very small, its eyes aren’t open and its ears aren’t up or anything yet.

“The joey couldn’t survive out of mum’s pouch, so if something happened and she didn’t make it then the joey would be lost as well,” said Manfred.

The veterinary team were also pleased the arrow did not hit anything vital, missing the spinal column and organs.

“It is good that we got her when we did so that we could save her — in many of the arrow attacks, they do die after surgery because of the nature of the wound — it would be wonderful to save her after she has gone through such a horrible experience,” Manfred said.

The kangaroo, given the name Georgia, settled in well to Manfred’s wildlife shelter, Five Freedoms Animal Rescue, spending the next two weeks receiving care and medication from Manfred and his wife, Helen.

The shelter is a labour of love for the pair.

Like all wildlife rescuers, the care of the animals is paid for out of their own pockets, including medication, tranquilisers, food, and not to mention the extensive hours that go into rehabilitation.

“I’ve been a shelter owner and operator for 30 years, we are volunteer rescuers, so I make myself available around the clock to respond to animals hit by cars.

“I used to be an engineer, but I also now operate my own commercial animal business which is my entire source of income — getting possums out of buildings, snake catching… all of the work I do is related to animal rescue work,” he said.

Helen Zabinskas added: “there is no government funding, there is no department that does it — it is all the work of volunteers”.

If the government get their way, the fate of any future injured eastern grey kangaroos could be very different.

A recent discussion paper from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) signalled  they are seeking to ban wildlife carers from rescuing eastern grey kangaroos, wombats, possums and cockatoos.

The recently released Authority to Control Wildlife (ATCW) system review Discussion Paper states:

“Wildlife shelters and foster carers invest significant time and resources rehabilitating sick, injured and orphaned eastern grey kangaroos.

Given that the species is overabundant in many areas and is the species that the majority of ATCWs are issued for, some members of the community have suggested that the species should not be able to be rehabilitated under the wildlife shelter system… it may also be appropriate to consider whether the rehabilitation of unprotected wildlife, such as wombats, cockatoos or possums, should be disallowed or restricted to areas where such wildlife is not over-abundant.”

Helen Zabinskas told the Diary, “It is absolutely shocking, it is going to lead to widespread animal suffering and human trauma.

“They say they want to free up shelter resource and money by stopping us rescuing and rehabilitating these animals which is pretty bloody cheeky when it is not their money.”

In a recent interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, Manfred said he would face legal consequences if necessary:

“I will go to jail before I stop looking after animals that need help, and I think you’ll find there are quite a few hundred people out there who will say exactly the same thing.”

The proposed ban would be in place, even for acts of human cruelty such as this arrow attack.

And sadly, these incidents are not uncommon, even in Warrandyte.

Sergeant Stewart Henderson, Officer in Charge of Warrandyte Police Station said that there have been quite a few incidents over the last few years.

“It is hard to say at this stage whether it is kids being kids or people actually coming out to hunt them, but unfortunately it seems to be popping up,” he said.

“About three years ago we had a whole bunch of slaughtered kangaroos dumped in the dumpster at the car wash and around that time we found a beheaded kangaroo on someone’s property… I can’t understand what possesses people to be so cruel.

“Had we not been able to find her, she would have just gone around getting sicker and sicker, the joey would have kept growing and eventually the pair of them would have died from infection in a slow miserable way,” he said.

“It is illegal to hunt them and if they were caught they would be charged with cruelty to animals,” Sgt Henderson said.

Sgt Henderson said Police are looking for information on anyone hunting illegally.

“If people do see people on their property, at the time phone 000 so we can come out and speak to people and identify them, but if they have other information, if they don’t need police attendance, call Crime Stoppers, you can do it online or anonymously with information such as registration numbers,” he said.

Manfred told the Diary, “People are always astounded at how many times I do go out to these sort of incidents, I don’t think a year goes by when I am not rescuing or knowing of some kangaroos that have been shot with bows and arrows or with crossbow bolts.

“It is quite regular,” he said.

Wildlife carers have been calling for a crackdown on illegal wildlife hunting.

“There has been no work whatsoever to try to address the situation, it is pretty serious.

“Aside from the fact it is an horrific thing, it is completely illegal and horribly cruel to the animals, this was in the middle of Warrandyte.

“These kangaroos don’t move far, they are a known little family of kangaroos, they pretty much live in the backyards along Bradleys Lane and down to the river.

“This has happened in a very populated area.

“There are people that are happy to fire off arrows at wildlife, not only doing the wrong thing by attacking protected animals, but killing them in an environment where people are around all the time,” Manfred said.

In true Warrandyte form, in an open letter sent to the Diary, a resident of Bradleys Lane has given a warning to the perpetrators of this incident:

“To the big brave hunter who took to the terrifying wilds of Bradleys Lane with your bow and arrow.
You must be so proud of your heroic endeavours injuring a mother kangaroo in what I’m sure was such an even fight.
If I ever see you in my backyard with your toy hunting gear, I’ll invite my resident big buck kangaroo to sneak up on your unsuspecting arse and see who wins that battle.”

President,
Bradleys Lane Chapter of North Warrandyte Residents against Meaningless Acts of Cowardice

Manfred plans to release Georgia back with her mob in Bradleys Lane.

“She has got family there.

“There is a large male that is part of her family group, there are some younger ones, may even be other joeys of hers that were nearby.

“She has her own definite family there that she lives with and they go from yard to yard, the neighbours all love having them there and cherish having the wildlife in their backyard.

“We certainly want to get her back there.”

If you have any information regarding this or other acts of animal cruelty, contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

If anyone would like to donate to Manfred’s Five Freedoms Animal Rescue Shelter, to help offset the cost of Georgia’s care, deposits can be made to:

Five Freedoms Animal Rescue
Bank: NAB
BSB: 083-515
Account No. 8133 33160
Cheques can be posted to:
Box 575 Woodend Vic 3442

Photos by Libby Annand & Manfred Zabinskas

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