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Stories


A Happy Ending - Successful story of a release of 6 ducklings

For 3 years now my son has cared for orphaned baby ducklings and enjoyed them. However, we need to release them a significant distance from our house as there is no suitable place nearby. Hence releasing them back into the wild has been both triumphant and sad as we don't get to see them again.

The 6 ducks we released this year were from 3 different families. The first was a single black duckling which we picked up from a family with a toddler near the ABC building. They were quite interested in it's progress so we decided to involve them in it's release, if possible, when the time came. It became like a "parent" duck at the age of about 3 weeks when the next 5 ducklings arrived. 2 black and 3 wood ducklings. They seemed to look to the bigger duckling for leadership and nestled under and around it most of the time.

It was a bit tricky knowing when to release them as we wanted them to be together, but knew if we waited too long the oldest may fly from our place alone, during their "daily exercise time" in our backyard. As the October Monday holiday was a beautiful day, we decided to release them then - a little concerned for the younger ones, but we figured they were nearly there and faced the same risks as all young wild ducks. Also the first duckling's rescuers were available to come down to the Torrens to enjoy the event. We lingered and watched them settle into their new home, amused to see a passing family offer them some bread in the first 15 minutes of their freedom. Naturally, they weren't very interested - we prefer chick starter thank you!!!!!

The following weekend I took our children back there in the hope of seeing them - 11 year old carer armed with left over chick starter!! To our delight they were all together, sunning themselves on rocks near the bridge, about 20 metres from where we released them!

They happily came up to our kids for chick starter and there was a joyful reunion.

A couple of weeks later I was in the area and popped down for a look. I couldn't recognise the black ducks, but the three wood ducks were still there together. If you go for a stroll along Linear Park, take a handful of chick starter and you may see them near a bridge close to the ABC.

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Jimmy's Story - A story about a grey kangaroo with an attitude for rebellion

I had been looking after possums of all sizes for a few years and enjoying it but never feeling quite confident enough to take on a kangaroo joey. Sue talked me into taking my first joey, giving me lots of support. How my life changed! It was just like going back to when my children were babies. Three to four hourly feeds, up in the night for 2 am feed, dirty pouches, lots of washing and having him with me all the time. There was also a good side - lots of cuddles, bonding together, being mum to a delightful little joey who had a very strong personality and loved being the centre of attention and helping a little orphan gain confidence and preparing him for the big step back to the wild.

Jimmy, who was a grey kangaroo, was a survivor and was lucky to be alive.A big, tough looking truck driver saw a dead kangaroo on the side of the road and noticed movement in the pouch. He took off his shirt and wrapped the little joey in it, put his cab heating on full and when he got to the outskirts of Adelaide rang Fauna Rescue. It was quite late when he delivered him to me, so I had been able to prepare for the new arrival. He said the mother had obviously been dead for what looked like a couple of days, and was surprised the little one was still alive.

Jimmy was dehydrated at first but recovered quite quickly with lots of extra fluids.He was prone to bladder infections and had a few bouts of cystitis and had crystals in the urine which meant many trips to the vet. One bout was so bad that he had a prolapse which happened on a Saturday morning when the vet was at his busiest (why do emergencies always happen on the weekend?!)He said it was his afternoon off but if I went back at the end of surgery he would treat him.The swelling round the cloaca (the area where the genitals are) was so bad that we had to pack it with icing sugar, which the vet nurse had to pop out to the local deli to buy as this wasn’t standard treatment. It soaks up the moisture and reduces the swelling. This is an old remedy but extremely effective. After a couple of hours the swelling had reduced enough for the vet to insert a catheter and put in a stitch to hold it in place. Jimmy was under light sedation for a couple of hours and the catheter remained in place for four days until the antibiotics kicked in and he was back to normal. The vet was very caring and said he didn’t mind giving up his time off as it was the first time he had ever spent his afternoon off holding the penis of a kangaroo!

After this episode Jimmy progressed by leaps and bounds. He put on weight and his condition improved rapidly. He found my husband’s dictionary and crossword puzzles very tasty and at every opportunity ate the spines off my best books on the shelf. He came with me to many talks and displays and seemed to really enjoy the attention, once when we were in a department store with him in his bag, a man saw his long ears and wanted to know if he was a rabbit, Jimmy was quite offended! As he became bigger and more adventurous, he graduated to the garden where we had an enclosed area with a kangaroo shed, and when he was older he was allowed access to the main garden. He was not very impressed the first few nights outside and spent a lot of time hopping past our bedroom window. He could only see over the sill by jumping high as he passed by and it looked really comical to see his head keep appearing as he hopped by.

We had a pool which in winter was covered by a pool blanket which was attached to the sides of the pool. Jimmy soon found if he hopped to the middle of the blanket he could cause a bit of a wave and would stand there enjoying the sensation, a bit like jumping up and down on a waterbed! Unfortunately the first time we took off the blanket, Jimmy went to do his wave riding bit and fell in the deep end. He realised he could swim and swam to the steps where he got out and gave us a dirty look as if to say “You might have warned me”! He fell in a couple more times and always swam to the steps to get out but now pretended he had meant to go for a swim anyway.

We felt he needed company, as kangaroos are social animals and joeys are usually raised in the wild in a mob situation. He used to go up to small bushes in the garden and kick them, sometimes if they sprang back at him he would go all out trying to win the fight. He also tried his kicking skills on me. In the wild the poor kangaroo mum has to put up with a lot of this as it is a safe way to practice without being attacked back. A member at Mannum had a similar sized joey in her pre-release compound and it seemed a good idea to team them up. Feeling sad at having to move him on but glad that he was embarking on the next step in his road to freedom we took him to his new carer on a beautiful summer day.

He was a bit of a bossy boots towards the other kangaroo, so we spent the morning building a second shelter so they didn’t have to initially share one. Then we went to have a bite of lunch in the house overlooking the compound before doing a final check to see he had settled down.

While we were having lunch the new carer said she saw something flash by the window so we went to the compound with hearts pounding and found Jimmy was missing. There had been a good run up to the high fence at one end and he must have made an enormous leap to clear it. We searched the surrounding paddocks for hours, calling him and inciting him to come and have his bottle. The grass was very high and there were many large shrubs, ideal for wild kangaroos but making it impossible to find Jimmy. As it got dark we had to give up the search and return home, a two hour trip, feeling very upset and worried. Our much loved joey out on his own, and there was a busy country road just across the paddock, we were devastated. For the next two days we returned and scoured a wider and wider area with no success. There were other kangaroos in the area but we didn’t see any, so didn’t think he would have joined them. The carer had asked all the neighbours to keep a look out and the local radio station had put out an appeal.

On the third day we got a call from the carer saying “Guess what I’ve found”. Jimmy had been found at a house on the other side of the road a couple of paddocks away. The man had heard the appeal and got in touch for Jimmy to be collected. We were so relieved to see him, he was covered in burrs and dirt and very tired. He spent the next two days laying in our lounge covered with a blanket. He only stirred to have a bottle, a few nibbles of feed, a quick pit stop in the garden, then back to sleep. I think he was a bit of an actor because he would look very sorry for himself when we were around but seemed more alert when he thought we couldn’t see him!

We were back to the problem of him being alone again, another carer had a female grey about the same size so after she had brought Misty to my house a few times to familiarise her with our garden and Jimmy, she came to stay full time. Jimmy wasn’t much of a gentleman, and at first didn’t like sharing the attention but after a while they settled down together and Misty was following him about. By now they were about 16 kilos each and we wanted to try again to get them to a pre release compound. They were moved to another compound in the hills and the night before, while I was sitting in the garden, Jimmy insisted on laying on my lap even though all ends hung over and he didn’t fit, he seemed to know that was moving on.

Jimmy didn’t settle at the beginning and the first night there they had to take him and Misty indoors for a while, I visited them for the next couple of days. Their new carer spent a lot of time in the compound with them until they started to accept her and after a few days they didn’t even look up when I visited. It was a bit like taking your child for their first day at school and they disappear off without a backward glance leaving you feeling lost. When they were about two years old the compound was opened and they went to join the other kangaroos on the property. Jimmy and Misty kept coming back for years and Jimmy gradually made his way up the kangaroo hierarchy until he was second in line to the dominant kangaroo on the property.Misty still comes back to the house quite a lot, and last year when she was injured came back to the compound of her own accord and stayed until she recovered. Jimmy is only seen occasionally now.

When he was younger everyone said Jimmy was a kangaroo with attitude, that was probably a polite way of saying he was a spoilt brat! We thought he was perfect, but then we were biased and he was our first kangaroo!

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Wally The Red Wattlebird - The successful release of a Wattlebird

Wally a Red Wattle Bird came to us via another wildlife carer. Someone had handed him in to her after he flew in and landed on the ladies shoulder while she was hanging out her washing one morning.

Wally was only a juvenile and it was obvious from his feathers coated in sticky goo that someone had been handraising him. He was also very tame and sooky. Wether he escaped and flew away or was released too prematurely we will never know.

We bathed Wally washing off all the food on his feathers until he was looking like a normal bird again.

At this point in time we doubted he would ever be releasable as he would fly onto our shoulders and talk to us everytime we entered the aviary. This being so we thought that he would be a good companion for other Wattle Birds that needed company whilst undergoing rehabilitation prior to release.

Over time other Wattle Birds shared the aviary with Wally but he always remained semi tame. That was until another Wattle Bird came into our care and it was just the two of them sharing the aviary.

We could see over time that Wally was distancing himself from us and becoming rather protective of his new partner.

As his character was slowly changing and taking on the character of the wild Wattle Bird he was sharing the aviary with we decided to keep the newer Wattle Bird in care for longer than normal to see if Wally would turn completely wild.

Over the next few weeks Wally became wilder and wilder and each time we entered the aviary to feed them he would try to dive bomb and attack us. We would have to enter the aviary carrying a piece of watermelon with us as that was Wally’s passion and he would do anything for a piece.

He no longer wanted us and would become very flighty if any of us went near the aviary. This was all the sign we needed to give him a second chance at being free.

We opened the aviary door one fine morning and out they both flew and settle happily in the big gum tree next to their aviary. We continued to place food on top of the avairy for them which they came back to when they were hungry. We observed them catching insects in the garden as they did in the aviary and they were also licking the blossom on the trees.

Two days later I was in the kitchen when I heard tap.tap. tap on my kitchen window. There was Wally looking very indignant and trying to get my attention. I raced out there thinking he had gotten into trouble but he flew off. I came back inside and he was back again. Tapping away.

Then it suddenly clicked. I cut some watermelon and took it out there. He flew away from me and perched on the fence. I placed the watermelon on the window sill and came back inside. As soon as I had closed the door down he came and grabbed the watermelon then flew off up into some trees on the other side of the creek.

This became a daily ritual. He would never allow me to get near him but he came in for his daily treat. We saw no sign of his partner but suspected she was waiting in the trees for him to bring back her piece as he would fly away then fly back less than a minute later for another piece.

Slowly over the months his visits became less frequent. Then he stopped coming all together. We were upset that something may have happened to him but at least he had by this time been a free bird for six months.

Xmas time was approaching and we hadn’t seen Wally for 3 months. Two days before xmas I heard that familiar tap. tap. tap on the window again. It was Wally waiting for some watermelon. As usual he waited for me to reenter the house before he came in to collect his free feed. We got the binoculars out and we watched him fly up into a gum tree on the creek line where he began to share the watermelon with another Wattle Bird sitting on a nest.

He had remembered where to come for a free hand out and maybe he was trying to impress his partner with some delicious treats. Wally continued to come in daily for several weeks until one day he came in and sat on the window sill and on the fence behind him was his partner and two baby Wattle Birds.

This was five years ago now and each and every xmas time this same scenario happens. He comes in and collects his watermelon for the time that his partner is on the nest. Then he brings all the family in to say goodbye and we don’t see him till the next December.

So now every December we make sure we have watermelon in the fridge ready for his arrival.

Releasing of already imprinted birds can be reversed. Not all birds can be rehabilitated but this story goes to show that given time and patience and the right environment anything is possible. It makes us very happy to see him free and at last count Wally is a proud father to 9 baby Wattlebirds.

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The Saga of the Little Pied Cormorant - Release of a Little Pied Cormorant after undergoing an operation to remove a fish hook from it's stomach

Late one Sunday afternoon, three young men were kayaking in the Port River near Adelaide, South Australia, when they found a little pied cormorant tethered to a mangrove tree by a line coming from its beak. They cut the line and contacted the local police who in turn contacted us. We met the rescuers and took the bird home.

At this stage a few centimetres of line protruded from the beak but no hooks were visible down its throat. We tube fed it Gastrolyte (a rehydration fluid) for the first feed, then “Ensure” liquid food, as we didn’t know how long the bird had been caught or what damage had been done. Each feed involved catching the bird by dropping a towel over it, with my husband holding while I fed it.

Next morning we visited our vet who checked the bird. He could feel no hooks down its neck and assumed that if there was a hook it would be in the bird’s stomach where it could possibly be eaten away. The line had disappeared out of sight.

For three more days the bird was tubed liquid food until it was able to keep down small pieces of fish. Over the next few days it regained strength and increased its food intake. [My wounds began to heal.] He looked ready to go!

After gaining a variety of opinions about the situation, we returned to the vet and requested an Xray to be taken to ensure there was no lead sinker left in the stomach that could cause a slow death from lead poisoning. The Xray showed a very large hook that showed no sign of corrosion in the first part of the cormorant’s stomach.

The Royal Adelaide Zoo veterinarian was willing to treat the bird. After finding not only one but two large hooks, he decided surgery was necessary and operated to remove the hooks and a quantity of line. Next day we brought home a very hungry cormorant that was most unhappy to go without fish for two more days and have his daily injections. He became so restless that we went back to tubing him liquid food to satisfy his hunger. He then progressed to frequent little feeds of small pieces of fish fillet and then to small fish again.

A week after surgery we moved him to a larger enclosure so that he could strengthen his wings. We sprayed him with water to encourage him to preen. A few days later his behaviour told us he was ready to go. Weather conditions were ideal so one of his rescuers met us at the St.Kilda breakwater and had the pleasure of releasing the bird which took off towards the Port River, flew strongly and never looked back.

Where ever possible we try to involve the rescuers with the final release so that they can see the rewards of their efforts. We are forever grateful to the vets and other people who support the members of our wildlife rescue group.

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Successful Release - Story of the rescue and release of a Short Tailed Shearwater

Each year around ANZAC day, the annual migration of the Short Tailed Shearwaters takes place.

Thousands of these birds fly from the Great Australian Bight past South Australia and follow the coast around Victoria and then along the eastern seaboard of Australia right on through to the northern hemisphere. It is one hell of a long way.

Usually ANZAC Day is a wet and windy time and frequently we get a lot of rescued shearwaters who are blown off course and finish up being stranded in the suburbs of Adelaide. This year the weather was really mild so we were surprised that one shearwater did get lost and needed some help. We try to get these fellows straight back into the air and on their way again as soon as possible.

Although they normally eat krill, it was force fed a few small whitebait about 4 times per day, to keep up its condition. Unfortunately some of our planning came unstuck when the captain of a boat heading to Tasmania refused to agree to release the bird after going past Kangaroo Island.

On the very next day we released the bird from the top of the lookout at Port Elliott. The only other option was to euthanase the bird because if we had released it elsewhere it would surely have died.

Apparently thousands of these birds die each year through misadventure. They are also killed for their oil on islands off the coast of Tasmania.

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Ruby - Intersting story of a baby Brushtail possum with a stephylococcal infection

I received a call about a possum at about 10pm one night in February. A baby Brushtail Possum had been found by two policemen on push bikes who were riding on the bike path behind the Adelaide Zoo. The possum was very lucky to have been seen by them as she was only 62g but she was furred so I guess a bit more active then the normal 62g possum.

I wasn’t well that night and I had sent my partner to the chemist.When he arrived home he said that a police car was going up and down our street with their spotlight on. I told him to go back outside and hail them down as the police were probably looking for us to deliver a possum.

I was waiting on a locum doctor to come and see me that night and guess when he turns up, right when I was giving the possum its first feed. I tried to talk to the doctor and feed the possum but she was taking so long. As she was easy to feed, I asked my partner, John to finish her feed.

John had never fed a possum before and had only just become possum friendly.When I first started caring for possums John wasn’t very comfortable with the possums. If I left him with a possum down his jumper he would start stressing out if the possum got out of its pouch because he thought is was going to bite him (John’s story is that he thought the possum would go to the toilet on him, but I know the truth).

The first feed went really well and the doctor discounted his fee because of our and the possums entertainment factor.

At 1:30am that morning it was down to the vet’s for the possum to be given some subcutaneous fluids under her skin as she was very dehydrated and the oral fluids were not helping.

We called the possum Ruby after Fauna Rescue’s mascot “Ruby Roo” as she looked more like a Kangaroo than a possum. She was very underweight and her head looked very long and too big for her body.

When Ruby came into care she had some red dots on her nose that looked like a graze. These dots spread further on her face and onto her paws and they became scabby.We took Ruby to a vet and she thought Ruby had mange, ringworm or a staphylococcal infection. A skin scrap was done and no mites were found so it was either a staph infection or ringworm. Ringworm will go away on its own but a staph infection needs to be treated with antibiotics. The vet thought it was more likely that Ruby had a staph infection.

A staph infection is brought on by stress and is contagious. Ruby could get it again if she is stressed. So Ruby can not be released and will have to stay in captivity. The antibiotics worked but Ruby looked very scruffy. She had fur loss where the infection was including a strip down the centre of her head that looked like a reverse mohawk.

We went camping when we had Ruby and she came camping too. Ruby was in a cage at that stage and she was in the tent with us at night. She had got rather used to being with us at night. When we came back home and Ruby was put in the inside aviary in the possum room. She was not very impressed and called for us through the night.

We didn’t have room to keep Ruby so she has gone to live with another carer and we have unlimited visiting rights.Ruby is a very lucky possum

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Kelly's Last Stand - Entertaining story of a rescue of a Blue Tongue Lizard

By Pip Burbidge

Sheila, as a lizard coordinator, is used to calls from people who do not share any sort of love affair with these creatures and want no part of them. (No, L.J. I won't mention any names!!!)

Sometimes the only option is to humanely remove and relocate them, obviously a job for the man in the house. As the lady was only a short distance away, off I went. Kelly, as we will know him, had made his home in the sun room. It had been built on and had a roof downpipe in the corner on the opposite side from the door, with a shallow drain going to a hole which went out somewhere to the garden. The hole was about 4cm deep and became a tunnel. Kelly would climb up from the tunnel, proceed up the drain and sunbathe in the room by the downpipe. The problem was distance.

As soon as you entered the room Kelly would take off and go down the hole in the blink of an eye.You will never catch him, the good lady said gloomily. I cannot use this room while he lives here. Leave it to me I said , trying to put my brains into a forward mode. I used a piece of PVC pipe, fixed a container that fitted over the hole on to the end of the pipe, and hid behind a potted fern. It was hot and airless in the room and Kelly did not show himself for the first hour, then only his head emerged. I willed his body to follow but no luck, after about another hour he retreated and did not come back. Obviously he could sense I was near. Told you so said the good lady as I returned home.

However Fauna Rescue is made of sterner stuff. I returned next morning with a long length of PVC pipe which went from the door right over to the other side of the room and next to the hole. Tell me when you next see him I said. She phoned at 3 oclock that he was basking again, so I returned to the house, crept to the door , jerked the pipe and covered the hole. Kelly never made it down the hole. I captured him looking for an escape route, popped him in our special animals basket and Sheila released him by our rockery, after checking he was fit and healthy.

The lady lived in Kelly Road (hence my name for him) and the praises of Fauna Rescue will no doubt be sung for some time to all her friends and neighbours as she was so delighted at getting her room back! For my part I like to feel Kelly did quite well on his change of home and concluded that finding ways of outfoxing some of our native creatures beats doing crosswords any day!

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Eggciting Experience - A story of some black duck eggs that were incubated and hatched

It all started with a phone call from Marilyn asking if I could take in a clutch of 15 duck eggs that had to be moved because the eggs had been laid at a service station which was in the middle of being redeveloped. The workmen had done all they could around the mother duck hoping the eggs would hatch but could not delay work any longer.

At home the incubator was warming, an old kerosene incubator that my wonderful husband has adapted to run off electricity.

The next morning we candled the eggs and judging by the stage they were at they would be due to hatch in about a week. Six days later it was my sons 8th birthday and to add to the excitement six of the eggs had started to hatch, of course none of the kids wanted to leave the party. We got up the next morning to one already hatched, another one half way out of the shell and within two hours another six were hatched and drying off. The last egg did not hatch till that afternoon.

Nine very healthy black ducklings are now in the brooder, making a huge mess and eating me out of house and home, It's a shame that in the end only nine hatched but considering the distance the eggs were transported at such a late stage of their development we were lucky to have nine hatch.

NOTE: It is an illegal offence to remove any native eggs from the wild unless in danger without prior consent from NPWS.


A Sulphur Crested Cockatoo Named Harry - A Story of a Cockatoo that was rescued after being hit by a car

Harry the CockatooHarry the Sulpher Crested Cockatoo came to me from some other Fauna Rescue Carers just before X-mas 2001. He had been hit by a car.  The vet checked him out and said that he had no broken bones but he was very badly bruised, and only through time would we know if he suffered any brain damage.

He is now totally blind in his right eye and still receiving treatment. For the the first month he could only eat soft foods as he found it difficult to crack seeds. It took 2 weeks to get his trust to just sit on my arm.

 He hates being outside and as he is now blind in one eye I knew he could not be released so in came a new avairy (3 weeks wages!!!) in the lounge he went,watching the television. Also he is very good at ambushing the cats. He helps me answer the phone when I am on call answering the phones for Fauna Rescue and keeps people quite amused while I search for other carers for various rescues.

He has won many hearts and can make you laugh even on a bad day. Amazing how a wild bird like himself can wrap you up in his claws, he really thinks he is the master of the house.


Overcoming Seed Dormancy By Animal Ingestion - Read how Fauna Rescue is helping Adelaide University overcome seed dormancy by Animal Ingestion

he Native Currant (Acrotriche depressa) and Honeypots (Acrotriche serrulata) belong to an interesting group of Australian heath plants called the epacrids.Little is known about the pollination and reproduction of epacrids with seventy-eight species regarded as poorly known in Australia. Epacrids are widespread throughout southern Australia but are currently rarely involved in revegetation, as they are notoriously difficult to propagate both by cuttings and by seed.

Both the Native Currant and Honeypots produce tiny, tubular flowers with hairs at the tips of the petals. Pollen is released within the flower tube before the bud opens. As the petals open, the hairs scoop up the pollen and hold it above the face of the flower for pollinators (possibly insects) to collect. I am trying to identify pollinators for both plants because they must be present in areas where the plants are used in revegetation. Pollination of other epacrid flowers is known to involve lizards, vibrating bees, birds and possibly Antechinus species.

Honeypots is a fairly common species that grows in South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales. The Native Currant is rare in some areas of South Australia, including the Southern Mt Lofty area, and is presumed extinct in Victoria. Both species produce fruit, nectar and pollen that provide a food source for many different native animals so would be valuable inclusions in revegetation efforts.The Native Currant is used to make jam on Kangaroo Island and could be used as a possible native food crop if it were easier to grow.

The diet of Australian native animals has long included the epacrids. Thornbills, honeyeaters, possums and Antechinus also eat nectar from these plants.The berries produced by Honeypots and Native Currant are eaten by Australian wrens, quail thrushes, silvereyes, honeyeaters and parrots among other birds. Native birds that eat the fruit both distribute and fertilise the seeds within.

Only 2% of untreated Honeypots seeds will germinate this indicates some kind of seed dormancy. Scarifying seeds and using smoke water does not increase germination rates.Seed germination must be fast and predictable to justify the time and effort involved in the collection of seed for revegetation purposes.A seed treatment must be determined to overcome the dormancy of Honeypots and Native Currant if it is to be used in revegetation.

Little research has been carried out on the breaking of multiple seed dormancies such as those found in epacrids.

Passage through the digestive tract of animals subjects seeds to conditions that would not otherwise be experienced such as lack of oxygen, high acidity and interactions with gut microflora.Acid treatment is a laboratory method that has been used to overcome dormancy in some plants.

High acidity experienced in the gut of animals may increase germination rates of ingested seed in a similar fashion.

Bacteria and fungi within the gut of animals may act upon seeds passing through to overcome dormancy.

Germination is increased in at least three other epacrid species after passage through the guts of birds.

I have devised an experiment to determine whether the ingestion of seeds by animals increases the germination rates of the seeds of Honeypots and Native Currant.Sleepy lizards, possums and a black faced cuckoo shrike were fed fruit and the seeds collected from their scat and planted in bush soil.

Many thanks to the Fauna Rescue carers involved who kindly supplied and fed the black faced cuckoo shrike that was undergoing rehabilitation through Fauna Rescue .This bird hopefully will be the key to overcoming the seed dormancy of the two plants, enabling their use in revegetation and thus supplying many other native animals with food.Cooperation between fauna carers and plant researchers can help to overcome seed dormancy found in many Australian native plants. This means more plants would be suitable for use in revegetation. Revegetated areas that are more diverse in plant species support a wider array of animals. If food is more abundant, released animals have a greater chance of survival.

Melanie Schneemilch
Adelaide University

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An imformative article about the importance of the heirarchal stucture of a mob of Grey Kangaroos

'How important is the Hierarchial Structure of Grey Kangaroos?'...........It depends on who's viewpoint!!!

The heirarchial structure IS NOT important to the Kangaroo Meat Industry and to academics or politicians.

But if you see things from our viewpoint, the heirarchial structure is very important indeed.

The best example is South Australia where they have killed for decades the kings of the mobs and the biggest females first, then the smaller sized kangaroo and the result you see now.

Whatever these South Australians are trying to achieve, they will now never get the big sized kangaroos back! The gene pool of these once large kangaroos has been destroyed ad is surely wiped out.

Without a heirarchial structure there is no "MOB", (I'll explain later). The hierarchy is there to make sure that the King's gene pool is kept alive, and the purpose of a king is to pass on "his" genes to "his" offspring and his possible heir who will be King of another mob. The social stucture of a mob includes behavioural systems for rescource exploitation (food), predator avoidance and rearing of the young.

Let me give you a quick insight to the function of a mob.

The king of a mob is replaced only when a challenger, usually an equal if not more dominant king male wins against the existing King which can take years.

The male offspring of a mob will eventually leave that mob as early as 22 months of age. These juveniles might join another mob or join an older male or stay together (boys club) but away from the mob, this is to prevent inbreeding of the young males with their mothers, sisters and half sisters.

It is the female who passes on the bloodline, so if father or King mated with his daughter it would be technically alright as they do not have the same bloodline, BUT if the son bred with his mother or sisters it is a total inbreeding and therefore is cleverly avoided when a King rules the mob.

The King's role is to pass on his genes to as many females in his mob as he can, of course there is the problem of being challenged while one of the females is in estrus and ready to be mated. If the King is occupied fighting with other males vying for his position, the chance that a younger male mates with a female in estrus is possible, (in fact she allows him to) but in a natural mob that male will most likely be an adult rather than a teenager.

The size of the mob is probably not as important as being able to pass on the King's genes to most of the mob's females, and to be able to keep the other males away from most of the females for as long as possible, to make the most of his time as king.

I have seen mobs as small as one king and one female with offspring at heel, up to a mob of 70 and to the size my own mob got to until the day my 2 young kings Gismo and Snowy got shot on 31st August 2001, which was 29 members.

All the matings I have witnessed I can truly say that the Eastern Greys in our area are the most caring and sharing and non violent animals I have ever observed. My 2 late kings even accepted a very sick male into their mob. They knew that this skinny run down male was no threat to either of them. (This 5-7 year old male and I made contact and I nicknamed him Buddy and he still comes to me today to get his freebies.)

If one female comes into season the male will follow her for 2.5-3 days, scratching her tail to find out if she is ready to mate. Often the younger males get exhausted from just following the female around everywhere. If one of my females comes into estrus and is sick and tired of being followed by the males, she jumps into her old roo yard until the boys have figured out how to get into the 'safe haven', which, for the males takes quite a while longer to figure out!! In the end it will be the older male who mates with the female, not the younger ones. As long as there is an older male around, the younger males do not stand a chance to mate with the particular female.

Young teenage females are not protected by their mothers once they become sexually mature, which can be as young as 19 months of age. The king of the mob will protect the young females from the other young bucks, however he will mate with her himself. I witnessed one of these matings and I feared the worst for this little female, but although her offspring was large, it was still smaller than the other older doe's offsprings. She had no trouble rearing the joey, and once out of pouch the joey grew quickly, catching up with the others in size.

If the mother's pouch did not stretch sufficiently to equal the joey's growth, then it could be possible the joey would suffer from overstretched Achilles tendons.

Matings can be rough if the male is young and inexperienced. King or older males matings are quite gentle, (if not being rushed or harassed by other males).

Lynda, you are on the right track placing an older male with the younger mob before relelase. This practice works better if the male could mate with the females prior to release, so he is aware of just who belongs to his mob.

He will protect his females from othe males as long as they are not stronger than himself.

My 2 boys (kings) divided into 2 groups, but stayed together as a mob. If you release a mob without a leader, who will be acting as the king of this leaderless mob?

I believe that an established mob cannot be seen by any other males as a 'mob', if it does not have a king. The king is the symbol of the mob. The king of a mob earns the respect from othe rmales and acts as a role model for the other to learn from.

One interesting aspect which I have observed is that when a lower ranking male is accepted by a female, she tends to accept the same male year after year.

To summarise, all social animals (kangaroo, deer, goat, elephant, etc.) or pack animals like wolves, geese etc., just to name a few species have a King and Queen as heads of their heirarchy. All these animals hierarchy structure is easily destroyed once the King is no longer present.

Copyright - Antje Struthmann

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