Author Archives: Maria Taylor

Our stories of living with wildlife, tell us yours

young-mum-eastern-grey-with-daughter-Maria-Taylor

WITH THE UNPRECEDENTED times we are living through — drought, fire, flood, hail, linked to climate change, now plague linked to humans eating wildlife, all the while governments continuing to encourage exploitation and ‘harvesting’ of wildlife — we wonder how we can help our animal brethren, just in our own lives. Especially if we are locked down and restricted to digital communications.

Around our block in NSW and at my neighbours’, all semi-rural land, we have maintained some heart-warming, voluntary friendships with our local wildlife. The birds, the possums, the kangaroos and wallabies, Shingleback lizards, we talk to them and, yes feed some through the tough times (and just because we are softies), and they respond without fear and flight. Nothing is caged or restricted. Anyone rural or suburban can be that kind of sharing friend.

nursing-mum-Maria-TaylorLast night, our matriarch Eastern Grey Kangaroo, whom we just call Old Mum as distinct from Young Mum and her joey (seen on right) who all hang out together, followed me around the block like a faithful doggie. We went and inspected some new green grass coming up in a valley below the house. She watched me for a while and then went up the hill and gathered the rest of her mob and brought them all down for a look and, I suppose, the possibility of a feed.

Interestingly, they soon showed less interested in the new grass than in the re-growth Red Anther Wallaby Grass on the hillside. A Red Neck Wallaby was nibbling around the grass edges. We have gotten to know the wallabies better during the drought. Notably a fearless Swamp Wallaby who was coming close and looking expectant, with sweet potato, carrots, brown rice and fruit his reward. He has since gone back to post-rain native vegetation it seems.

Same diet minus the rice for the omnivore possums. Shinglebacks like tropical fruit skins. Getting humans to share a handout is a good survival strategy.

The rice was originally cooked for a posse of bush floor Choughs (look like 12 Apostle Birds) whom the drought had driven, for the first time in our memory, close to the house. Other bush birds — Rosellas, Magpies, Bronzewing Pigeons, are frequent visitors as are the occasional Sulphur-crested Cockatoo at ours and a whole flock at my neighbours. Bird seed of course is the attraction plus occasional broken nut meat for the larger birds.

A lovely flock of Gang Gangs comes in for water but never looks for a food handout.  They feed on the gum nuts high in the trees. Black cockatoos have been attracted to nearby pine trees, but we saw less of them this disastrous summer. We worry about the small insect-eating birds (and the tree frogs) with the dearth of insects in our bushland and around our homes now. Plantings for nectar feeders help those.

Young Mum Eastern Grey (main image) has been taking good care of her joey for six months now and the joey (we think a girl) is still feeding from her, sometimes on the lawn. It’s interesting to see that at times joey hangs out with ‘Nanna’ ie Old Mum and follows her around. No doubt she has instructed both her daughter and her grandchild that humans can be friends and sources of help and food.

As soon as the weather improved and the rains came in, the kangaroo males, who had been fed during the bush-fire and drought, dispersed. They have returned to their usual circuits and smaller mobs here and there, still enjoying the occasional handout. We want to keep them close and away from roads and other dangers. The girls stay much more fixed to home range.

If you have some ‘good news’ personal stories to tell, and ways of helping wildlife (that does not involve gatherings of more than 50 people!) — we would love to hear from you and publish your anecdotal reports and observations.

Write to webeditor.awpc@gmail.com

— Maria Taylor

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From Australia Day: make every day Wildlife Day

AWPC-editorial-Jan2020-v3

WE WELCOME YOU to the refreshed Australian Wildlife Protection Council (AWPC) website.  This comes along with new energy for our national wildlife in the form of a new managing committee and additional members. In the ‘Member News’ section incoming AWPC president Peter Hylands introduces our new committee and offers some thoughts about where we might go together and contribute with a revitalised national organisations.

As a committee member, (coming from a journalism and publishing background) I will be acting as the webpage editor at this time. Our website visual editor, who is responsible for the new look and the new sections is my long-time colleague Sue Van Homrigh from Graphic Gesture (who says “please excuse me while I juggle things around a bit”).

In Australian we have all been overwhelmed in the past months by what some might call ‘Mother Nature fight-back’ against mounting insults from two major directions.

We’re talking about the burning and mining of fossil fuels whose emissions pollute the atmosphere and disrupt weather patterns encouraging extreme on-ground impacts (drought, fire, flood) while we are also massively destroying biodiversity — the country’s native animals, plants and ecosystems — in pursuit of economic gain.

While at AWPC we focus on the needs and treatment of our wildlife, there is no doubt that so much of the environmental news is interconnected. Climate change concerns all of us and we can call long-standing mismanagement and worse against the politicians we have let into power at state and federal level.

The logging and destruction of native forests, death of coral reefs and the fragile inland river system are all connected to the values in our country that also allows, even encourages, pastoralists and private commercial operations to shoot millions of kangaroos — the world’s most recognised national symbol — with dependent joeys perishing miserably — all for accepted ‘business’ reasons.

We’ve been here for a long time

In the course of the AWPC committee transition, I have had the opportunity or need to go through the AWPC archives. That has been an eye-opening experience. Even though I have spent a good deal of time researching an upcoming book on Australia’s fraught relationship with its wildlife since settlement, going through those archives brought some new material to light and reinforced just how long and how many good people have fought the good fight for our wildlife.

And yet here we still are as a nation, adhering to colonial and old economic values (as promoted by our politicians in charge) that risk utterly destroying the land and the environment we depend on and that many of us cherish.

I thought I would share one letter from the archives dated 1998, from a French woman who came here to make a film about our treatment of the kangaroo. How someone from outside our group-think society, and who might well represent a tourist’s perspective, saw Australia then. All this is still true today.

With all respect to the peoples who inhabited this land in 1788, when the First Fleet arrived, and who see January 26 as Invasion Day.

— Maria Taylor


FEATURE IMAGE SOURCES (Top, L-R): Emu, Gayleen Froese | Grey-headed Flying Fox, Nathan Hogarth | Mallard duck, Peter Hylands | koala, Pen Ash | kangaroo, AWPC archive | possum, Maria Taylor | Boyds Forest Dragon, David Clode | wombat, Liv Faley | Murray River Cod, Melbourne Aquarium Wikipedia | Golden Sun Moth, District Bulletin archive.

Below: An extract from letter written by a French film-maker in Australia, 1998.
Click on boxed text below to enlarge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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