Tag Archives: wildlife

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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A place to call home

There are numerous native animals that are dependent on naturally hollowed out sections of trees.

These cavities can occur within both living and dead trees, with an entrance to the outside environment where the animals can enter and exit from.

Natural hollows range in size from small cracks to large vertical hollowed out cavities similar to a chimney.

These hollows can occur in the trunk or horizontal limbs with the hollows and entrances at any height.   

Bush fire, lightning strikes or breaking branches can expose the trees to the elements and the cavities are then largely created by termites, beetle larvae and moth larvae which feed on the internal dead wood of the tree (heartwood).   

Fungus can also assist with rotting the timber and fire can further influence the enlargement of the cavities.

These cavities allow the animals to shelter and breed.

Most native trees in Greater Warrandyte are around one hundred years old and are regrowth from the last large scale mining ventures that ended around the beginning of WWI, in 1914.

Some of Warrandyte’s native animals such as gliders, phascogales, possums, parrots, ducks and owls are unable to create their own hollows.

Different animals have different nesting requirements, mainly due to their size.

Nest boxes provide an important supplement to the lack of naturally occurring hollows, in particular the larger ones.

Increasing in popularity is the creation of artificial hollows cut into the trunks of dead trees.

Throughout Melbourne I have seen a growing trend of large dead trees being trimmed of branches and cavities being cut into the upper trunk.

Most of these animals use multiple hollows and regularly change hollows.

This helps keep their hollows clean and free of parasites or disease.

It also helps them avoid predators such as owls which quickly learn which hollows are in use.

Because they rotate homes we need to provide multiple nest boxes to support each individual animal.

I aim to provide two to three nest boxes for each target animal.

Natural tree hollows provide excellent insulation against the cold/heat and last for a very long time.

It is very important to use thick timber or materials that are strong, rot/rust proof and have adequate insulation properties for animal comfort.

I use treated pine that is at least 25mm in thickness as this will begin to provide enough thermal insulation for wildlife.

I also use screws and hinges that are corrosion free and paint the interior and exterior for aesthetics and longevity.

I fasten internal ladders for both marsupials and birds.

They will also provide grip for the young animals that might struggle with climbing.

I also cut external grooves entirely around the entrances for possums to grip on.

I have studied possums exiting the nests at night and they tend to immediately climb upwards so it is important to have grip around the entirety of the entrance.

When installing the nest box I will select a location away from general disturbance and bright lights.

I like to orient the nest box on the side of larger trees and on the south side of the trunks away from the hot afternoon sun.

As most animals will use boxes at about four metres high I usually install the box using a large ladder such as an extension ladder.

Ensure the ladder is tied to the tree for safety and remember that you will want to access your box to inspect it later.

The higher the installation the further away from disturbance the animals will be.

I usually fasten the boxes using plastic coated wire.

As the growing tree trunk expands this may require adjustment over time as it gets tighter.

Spring-wire can assist with allowing the attachments to expand and require fewer adjustments over time.

Generally, you do not need to clean your box.

I will deposit fine mulch in the base for comfort and further insulation.

Most wildlife keep their nests clean.

A few species, such as the phascogale, will soil the inside of their boxes.

That is their normal behaviour.

Cleaning your boxes may stress the animal and cause the animals to temporarily desert the box.

A few small holes or gaps in the base of the box can help drain any water and keep it dry.

It may only take days or weeks before animals such as possums move in whereas others that are seasonal, such as birds, you may have results during the breeding seasons, usually in spring.

Also remember that wildlife move between hollows (and nest boxes) on a regular basis so some of the boxes will be vacant at any given time.

You will often find signs that your box has been used (feathers, scats or nest material including bark or leaves) even though the animal is not at home.

I usually incorporate folding lids that are the easiest way to check inside boxes.

Increasingly popular is the installation of cameras either inside the box or by installing an automated wildlife camera on a nearby tree.

This will monitor what comes in and out of the box.

These pictures are a sample of some of the recent success I have had with providing homes to our local animals in Warrandyte.

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Wild about our animals

THE towering Black Saturday bushfires in 2009 killed 173 people and led to an outpouring of grief among Australians.

But for Wonga Park firefighter Adrian Trigt, they had special meaning that added to the tragedy.

“I visited Kinglake after Black Saturday and the place looked like a warzone,” Mr Trigt said. “I opened an email from Wildlife Victoria and I saw that they needed more wildlife rescuers and so I jumped on board because saving wildlife is important: it does make a difference.”

Mr Trigt has since devoted his time to rescuing and transporting injured kangaroos to wildlife shelters for rehabilitation.

His work is highly specialised, with few people trained in how to rescue kangaroos.

It’s difficult to find volunteers who are willing to regularly spend several hours attempting to save an injured kangaroo, let alone buy the expensive equipment needed to rescue such large and speedy animals.

Car accidents are one of the leading causes of death for native animals such as kangaroos and much of Adrian’s work involves removing dead roos from roads and marking them with a white “X” so passersby know a rescuer has already attended.

“Unfortunately, most animals don’t usually survive car accidents,” Mr Trigt said. “If a kangaroo is lying there with two broken legs and it’s dying, I want to help put the animal out of its misery. You can’t just leave an animal there to suffer.”

Unfortunately, that’s how the overwhelming majority of wildlife injuries end.

Wildlife Victoria, a non-profit emergency response service for wildlife, sent volunteers to help injured animals on about 40,000 call outs last year.

The organisation’s relationship manager, Amy Amato, estimates 80 to 90 per cent of cases resulted in the animal being put down or dying before volunteers arrived at the scene.

“It’s pretty hard on our volunteers and sometimes they go weeks without being able to rescue a single animal,” Ms Amato says. “That’s when our job becomes about ending the animal’s suffering. Nearly every wildlife death or injury is directly or indirectly human-related, whether it’s a road accident, a kangaroo caught on a fence, a pet attack or a bird that has ingested plastic and needs surgery.”

Those animals with a chance of survival end up in the care of one of the organisation’s 500 active wildlife carers, such as Wonga Park’s Adriana Simmonds, who is a biologist and environmental educator from Columbia.

She has nursed around 2000 native Australian animals back to health and released them into the wild over the past 15 years.

Her immense love for Australia’s wildlife is evident to those around her, who haven’t seen her take a proper holiday in 15 years because her shelter always has animals needing her care.

Hello possum: Adriana Simmonds is passionate about her animal rescue work.

Running her wildlife shelter from her home is a 24-hour job, with baby animals requiring feeding throughout the night. It can also be heartbreaking work – sometimes all she can do is ease their suffering as they die from horrific injuries.

Yet Mrs Simmonds says she wouldn’t have her life any other way.

“You sacrifice yourself and at the end of the day you let them go and it’s like you’re letting go of your own child. It’s pure love,” she said.

“When they’re babies I’m a mum to them – I’m affectionate, I kiss them and hug them but as they start growing up I start the process of detachment. When I release them into the wild they are completely dehumanised so they don’t remember me. They need to be completely wild to survive on their own.”

During spring and summer, carers face an influx of orphaned babies, whose mothers have often been hit by cars as they migrate or they’re often attacked by cats whose owners don’t keep them indoors at night.

Mrs Simmonds says global warming is also making natural events such as bushfires more extreme and deadly for wildlife. But she says cutting down forests to make way for developments such as roads and houses have the greatest impact on wildlife, affecting the entire ecosystem.

“You’re limiting their source of food and shelter and the rate at which we destroy is never the same as the rate at which we restore habitat,” Mrs Simmonds said.

“Then animals can die trying to find other shelter. People often view possums in their roofs as pests and yet those possums are there because the trees they would usually live in have been cut down, but people don’t often make the connection.”

Wildlife advocates say many wildlife deaths could be prevented if the Victorian government established more wildlife corridors so native animals could migrate safely through Melbourne’s outer-suburbs such as Warrandyte and Wonga Park.

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning spokesman Ewan Cook says a guide for wildlife corridors is being developed, which will be followed by a plan.

Meanwhile, Mrs Simmonds is busy looking after the animals in her care and visiting schools and community groups with her business Human Seeds, which educates people on wildlife issues while helping her fund the costs of running her shelter.

“I truly believe education is the only hope we have for the future and I teach people how to incorporate simple changes into their daily lives, which make a big difference to our wildlife,” she said.

“Probably the best thing people can do is plant native vegetation in their backyards – that way people are creating their own wildlife corridors.”

To report injured wildlife, call Wildlife Victoria on 1300 094 535 or visit www.wildlifevictoria.org.au

Wildlife slaughter: Roo killers could face up to two years in jail

WARRANDYTE car wash workers hope CCTV footage will help police catch the person or group of people who dumped 11 dead kangaroos outside their workplace last month.

Six kangaroos were mysteriously dumped in an industrial bin outside the carwash near Goldfields Plaza in late February.

George Vattakuzhy discovered another five dead kangaroos in the same spot while working just one week later.

The carwash’s manager, Samantha O’Brien, said the business had never encountered such “worrying” behaviour before.

“They dumped the kangaroos in an area where it’s built up – there’s a shopping centre next door and there are always kids and families around. It’s frightening,” Samantha said.

“People live in Warrandyte because they like native wildlife and the environment but even if somebody does view kangaroos as pests it doesn’t give them the right to basically slaughter them.”

Workers say warm weather caused the bin to develop a strong, disgusting odour, which was unsettling for those who were left to remove the kangaroos and clean the bin after the shocking discovery.

“You just don’t go to work expect- ing to see and deal with something so horrible,” Samantha said.

“It’s a slow process but we’re reviewing the footage carefully with the hope that police will be able to identify whoever did this.”

Warrandyte Police senior constable Daniel Logan said the carcasses were so badly decomposed that police couldn’t determine how the kangaroos had been killed.

He said half of the kangaroos found were juveniles.

“This is a really nice area, this sort of activity is very disturbing and we’re very anxious to catch the people or the person doing this,” he said.

“We have to assume that it’s someone around this area, because you wouldn’t really travel long distances in a car with several dead kangaroos.”

Just one day after the five kangaroos were dumped in the industrial bin at the carwash, a council worker discovered the headless body of an adult female kangaroo on Brysons Rd, Wonga Park.

“The council worker who saw the kangaroo said it wasn’t an animal – animals tear and rip,” senior constable Logan said.

“A clean and sharp object had removed the kangaroo’s head.”

These recent incidents come after two kangaroos were shot in the head and neck with arrows in Templestowe in recent times.

Police are investigating whether the deaths are connected, with senior constable Logan saying it’s possible someone chopped off the kangaroo’s head to disguise the fact that it had been injured with an arrow.

Kangaroos are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975.

Anyone found guilty of killing or seriously disabling protected wildlife faces a possible jail sentence of up to two years.

News of the dumped bodies has spread on social media, with Diary readers labelling the incidents as “disgusting” and “horrible”.

Wildlife Victoria CEO Karen Masson was “sickened” to hear the reports about the kangaroos.

“We have an amazing team of volunteers who work extremely hard to assist sick and injured kangaroos reported to our Emergency Response Service every day, so it’s heartbreaking to hear that someone in the community would treat native wildlife in such an horrific manner,” Ms Masson said.

“We sincerely hope the culprits are found and held accountable.”

Police have urged residents to be aware of suspicious activity around Warrandyte and the state parks.

Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1300 333 000.

The Warrandyte Diary will keep readers updated through our website.