Author Archives: Chris Lehmann

A plague of myths

kangaroo-family_by_MariaTaylor

The AWPC’s  Kangaroo Campaign Lead Chris Lehmann has started firing off media releases to increase public awareness of Victoria’s and the whole country’s enduring demonisation and persecution of kangaroos — that has to stop. Here is what he had to say 9 November 2020.

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THE COUNTRY WOMEN’S Association of Victoria Inc recently urged the Victorian government to support a major harvest of kangaroos due to their current ‘plague proportions’ (sic). This is recorded in meeting minutes from May this year (1).

“Talk of plagues should be relegated to COVID-19 and the like. Kangaroo populations have been decimated since European settlement, and the oft-quoted talk of ‘plague numbers’ is a relic colonial era belief entrenched in our culture”, Mr. Chris Lehmann (Kangaroo Campaign Lead, AWPC) said.

“We are yet to see kangaroos in numbers that are in large proportion to their environment; and we challenge anyone who claims to have a plague on their hands to prove it or desist from disinformation”, he continued.

Mr. Lehmann said — “The population counts for kangaroos are based on sampling plus dubious adjustment factors — the end result if an exaggerated official population number, which in turn means that very large numbers of kangaroos are currently being killed then causing the populations of these animals to decline rapidly. The population explosions being promoted by governments and others are not occurring. It may be that in this instance kangaroo populations are being displaced by development, mass shooting elsewhere, land clearing or other factors.”

For the region in question, very large numbers of kangaroos are already being killed in a most cruel manner.

In the LGAs of City of Greater Bendigo and Macedon Ranges Shire 11,042 and 14,626 kangaroos were killed under permits in the period 01/01/2017–31/10/2019. In the nearby Mount Alexander Shire in the period 01/01/2020–01/06/2020 permits were issued covering 945 Eastern Grey Kangaroos. In the period 01/01/2017–31/10/2019 186 permits were issued to kill 8,068 Eastern Grey Kangaroos.

Mr. Lehmann continued, “Our view is that an unacceptable number of kangaroos are currently being slaughtered in Victoria for pet food and soccer boots. We are talking about our national icon.”

“The kangaroo is on our national coat of arms … and we knock them off for dog food?”.

“We really want organisations like the Country Women’s Association (Bendigo Northern and Central Victoria branches) to do some research before presenting and seconding motions — as they did in their May 2020 meeting — calling on the Victorian government to slaughter even more of our precious national icons. We noted the vote was not unanimous”, he said.

CONTACT: Chris Lehmann — AWPC Kangaroo Campaign Lead
M: 0434 479 459
E: chris2lehmann@mac.com

References: (1) State conference, motion by Bendigo Northern Group, May 2020.

IMAGE: Maria Taylor.

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Kangaroos are only good for …

kangaroo-shoes-dog-food-nov2020awpc

“Kangaroos are only good for dog food and soccer boots; well that seems to be the policy of various Australian State Governments”, Mr Chris Lehmann (Kangaroo Campaign Lead, AWPC) said.

kangaroo-products-montage“Current ‘management’ plans are aimed solely at providing product for the kangaroo killing industry with little or no consideration for sustainability of the species, despite the iconic status of our national symbol, the kangaroo”, he said.

“How dare we put the kangaroo on our coat of arms and treat them like a pest relic of our penal colonial past”, Mr Lehmann said.

“People all over world love our kangaroos; they are a major tourist attraction, but foreigners are totally bewildered by the appalling treatment we dish out to kangaroos as shown in the recent film Kangaroo – A Love Hate Story”, he continued.

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AWPC joins with Kangaroos Alive (www.kangaroosalive.org) in calling for an immediate moratorium on commercial kangaroo shooting across Australia.

In addition, AWPC is calling for an immediate halt to unmanaged non-commercial killing and a return to licensed and properly governed animal control permits.

Finally, AWPC is also calling for an independent population survey of the kangaroo species subjected to commercial harvest in all states and territories.

In light of the Black Summer bushfires when an estimated 3 Billion native animals were killed or displaced, it’s time to stop and check the real status of the major kangaroo species.

“We simply do not know how many kangaroos there are”, according to Mr Chris Lehmann (Kangaroo Campaign Lead for AWPC).

“The official government numbers are not credible”, he said.

NSW and QLD shut down kangaroo shooting across major swathes of both states in recent years. Why? Because commercial shooters weren’t able to find enough animals to shoot (dropped below critical survival densities of a few animals per km2).

“If the government management plans and quotas are accurate, how do we end up in a situation where professional shooters cannot find a kangaroo to shoot?”, he continued.

NSW has increased their kangaroo kill quota by more than 250,000 from 2019 to 2020 despite the massive loss of life in the recent bushfires. How does that add up to responsible wildlife care?

“AWPC has no faith in the official population counts because of ‘adjustment factors’ which magically increase the number of actual sightings to create the illusion of sustainable harvest.”, he said.

A glaring example is provided by the Victoria kangaroo management plan, which claims to “establish harvesting zones and set appropriate annual quotas for each zone”.

Consider just the majestic Red Kangaroo. During the 2017 survey, they observed 23 actual Red Kangaroos and using an ‘adjustment factor’ turned that into a population estimate of 13,000 (*1).

Having found very few Kangaroos at all in 2017, so desperate were the Victorian Government to turn Kangaroos into pet food, they had another go at a survey, this time they came up with a Red Kangaroo population of 44,000. How many did they actually see this time? We now know it was just 91 animals (*2).

“Can anyone actually believe that when spotters fly all over the state and observe only 91 animals, that somehow, the real population is 44,000? This kind of political mathematics is beyond belief”, Lehmann said.

“Wouldn’t you like to have a bank account like that? You deposit $91 in the account and the bank tells you that actually there is $44,000 in the account! Of course, it is absolutely ridiculous and corrupt, but that is how the kangaroo management system works in this country. And the government is happy to dupe the public with fancy statistical blather to justify their lies”, he continued.

Not only are the population numbers wildly wrong — the current kangaroo harvest is unsustainable in other ways.

The killing takes out the next breeding generation, as the code of practice requires that all dependent young must be killed (by decapitation or bashing their head with an iron bar).

Other pertinent questions to be answered:

Q. Why are governments trying to add new species to the approved harvest list? (eg Wallabies in SA)
A. Because the traditional hunted animals cannot be found.

Q. Why are they reducing the minimum weight limits so low as to include joeys just becoming independent from their mothers?
A. Because they cannot find enough large adult animals.

Mr Lehmann concluded, “The gross incompetence of the authorities is obvious to anyone that looks closely.”

“The kangaroo killing industry is a cruel and unsustainable industry marauding across the landscape, in the dead of night, reducing kangaroos to isolated pockets of animals, and potentially unviable long-term populations.”

“It’s time to move from colonialism to co-existence. We are still stuck in the era of ‘if it moves shoot it; if it doesn’t chop it down’.

We can learn to share this beautiful country with wildlife.
Kangaroos could be the source of a fabulous tourism industry, if we choose to coexist and respect them.”

“After all, they have been here for 25 Million years, we (recent immigrants) have only been around for 250. They deserve a much better deal than they are getting from us.”

#worldkangarooday #kangaroosalive #kangaroo #AWPC

Credit (coat of shame): Ray Mjadwesch
Credit (for cartoon): Les Hutchinson

References
*1. A state-wide aerial survey of kangaroos in Victoria, ARI, DELWP, 2017.
*2. State-wide abundance of kangaroos in Victoria, ARI, DELWP, 2019.
(Both reports are available on request.)

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Kangaloola Wildlife Shelter (Vic) rehabilitate sick & injured native animals

Kangaloola-joey-feeding

It’s Been A Tough Gig In 2020

The last 12 months seem to have been one disaster after another. Australia’s wildlife, and the people that care for them, are feeling the hurt.

For over 25 years now not-for-profit organisation Kangaloola Wildlife Shelter — located in the midst of the beautiful Stanley Forest just outside Yackandandah, 300 kilometres north-east of Melbourne — has provided care and comfort, and saved the lives of, literally thousands of native animals.

ABOVE: Photo by Paul McCormack. All images via Kangaloola Facebook.

Founded by Glenda Elliott (fondly known to many as “the Angel of the Bush”), Kangaloola has grown from humble, ad hoc beginnings into a vibrant hub where a largely volunteer team cares for injured, sick and orphaned Australian wildlife with the aim of rehabilitating them for eventual release back into the wild.

And while 2020 has been tough on so many fronts for so many, Kangaloola had a shocker beginning to the year with the horrific summer bushfires which ravaged their region and — apart from leaving a devastating loss of flora and fauna in their wake — could very easily have enveloped the shelter itself.

“It’s all variations of ‘the year from hell’ that’s affected so many people in so many ways,” explains Kangaloola secretary and long-term volunteer, Chris Lehmann. “It started for Kangaloola with our location in the Stanley Forest and the Abbeyard fire south-east of us and then there was the horrid Corryong fire which was north-west of us, and either one of those could have got to Kangaloola in a week or so had the wind changed direction. Nobody was putting them out, it was all about which way the wind blew.

“We had the two owners — the husband and wife team [Glenda and Ron Elliott] — and we had a Swedish girl who’d been working as a volunteer for about a year, and I think at the time we had three backpackers who were volunteers from different parts of the world, and basically I was just sitting here watching the damned emergency app — and so were Glenda and Ron — all day every day to see what was happening with the fires and to see if we had to evacuate everybody.

“It would have meant that we had to evacuate all the people and all the little joeys, and god knows what we’d do with everything else.”

In an odd twist of fate, the stress of the fires being so close was exacerbated by the last thing you’d imagine to be a negative factor – the huge outpouring of altruistic support which ensued.

“So the encroaching fires were the initial stress, and it was compounded in a weird way by the fact that I’d open my computer every morning and there would be 300 unread emails, I’m not kidding you,” Lehmann recalls with a shake of the head. “And the phone was just ringing and ringing and ringing, it would be someone like Air Canada flight crew saying ‘We want to come over and rescue animals! What can we do? Where can we go? Who can we speak to?’ From that right up to locals wanting to donate things and everything in-between, including people bringing trailer-loads of stuff we might need — it was just relentless.

“How do you feed over 100 animals and deal with all the actual rescue calls when the phone doesn’t stop ringing with offers of help? It’s the strangest conundrum. It was all people wanting to give something or volunteer or find out how we were — the despicable irony of all these wonderful offers of help was that we had to push them away. In the end we had to find ways to stop it — or divert it to some other poor bugger — and we had to send out messages saying ‘please stop’.

“And then bizarrely the real work that needed to be doing we weren’t allowed to do — we weren’t allowed to go anywhere near the fire grounds, even when the fires were out. We weren’t allowed to take food and water to the animals — that was expressly prohibited by locked gates and threats that we would be ‘breaking the law’.

“So it was a really despicable time, honestly, and all the while people were absolutely beside themselves about the animal loss and the suffering. It was a genuinely terrible time.”

Having survived the fires and provided what assistance they could, life at Kangaloola briefly returned to a semblance of normality — and then COVID struck, cancelling the shelter’s much-needed lifeline of travelling volunteers.

“We have five beds here for live-in volunteers, and then once COVID hit the cancellations started,“ Lehmann continues. Early on we had an American girl saying, ‘Sorry, my doctor has advised me that I shouldn’t go’, and I actually doffed my hat to that guy two months later: it was almost like, ‘What did that guy know that none of us knew?’

“Then the flood of cancellations started and our booking agent was saying to us, ‘What are you going to do? What’s your plan?’ And we were, like, ‘I don’t know what our plan is! I don’t know what you do in a global pandemic!’

“Early on we’d started to tell people that we wouldn’t accept people from China or who’d been anywhere near China — we started doing our own kind of triaging of volunteers — but then the government fixed the problem when they announced no more inbound flights, so that was that.

“Then we started depending on a few long-time local diehard volunteers, the girl from Sweden extended her visa, and we’ve been getting by. There’s been good days and there’s been bad days, and now we’re slowly starting to self-manage. We’ve found a British guy who’d been working on an outback station in Queensland who’s come to us and really fitted in well and it looks like he’s going to stay until the end of the year, so that’s great, and we have a couple of other leads.

“It causes stress and it makes the workload unmanageable, but I’m not going to complain too much because we’re not financially threatened like so many people are, as well as businesses and homeowners. I don’t want to complain when there’s like 10 percent of mortgages on a watch list and 15 percent of businesses threatened to go out of business — that’s a far sadder thing.”

While Lehmann is being humble in light of the COVID devastation that’s befalling people everywhere throughout regional Victoria, Kangaloola is dependent on donations (which are 100% tax-deductible and can be made at kangaloolawildlifeshelter.org.au) and they’re far from out of the woods yet: the drought conditions that have plagued regional Victoria for years may have abated somewhat but the ramifications are far from over.

“I really fear in the future that we’re going to look up on a hill during one of these serious summers and everything is going to have died the day before.”

“The biggest influx this year was we had about 13 koalas at one point — including three abandoned joeys — but really what that was was the end state or the tail-end of three years of drought conditions,” Lehmann offers. “And during that intense summer the koalas couldn’t cope with it, they just sat on the ground and said, ‘I give up’.

“The other thing that a lot of people don’t realise is that you look at the trees and you think ‘Yeah, they’re green, they’re alright’, but they are suffering — they’re as dry as biscuits. There’s nothing in the leaves and the koalas weren’t getting any nutrition — even the trees are at a tipping point.

“I really fear in the future that we’re going to look up on a hill during one of these serious summers and everything is going to have died the day before. The trees can’t cope with this forever either, they’re not magical beings.

“So we had the most koalas we’ve ever had, including three joeys that just walked up to a farmer and climbed up his leg saying, ‘Our mum’s abandoned us, can you help us?’ But they’re all ok now, same as the kangaroo joeys. They all stay with us for at least a year on an intense feeding regimen and then another year of preparing and adjusting for release — about two years all up we have them — but it’s worth it for that moment when they’re back out into their world again. Now we’ve just got to protect that world.”

 

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UPDATE: AWPC supports Kinley Estate (VIC) residents in fight for kangaroo lives

kinley-estate-media-release-aug2020
Lilydale-update-thumbnailThe Herald Sun update, week ending 7 August 2020

[CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE]


Are we Kind? …
Or are we Monsters?

Today [Tuesday 4 August 2020] could be D-DAY for the Kinley Estate (at Lilydale, Vic) kangaroos.

WE ARE CALLING on DELWP [Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning], and the Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, to take a humane and reasonable approach by supporting relocation of the Kinley Estate kangaroos.

The small mob (~40) of kangaroos that have lived peacefully together, and much loved by the locals, are slated to be killed to make way for development of the Kinley Estate(Lilydale) by INTRAPAC Property.

Any reasonable, humane person looks at the situation and asks — “what about relocating them?”

Wildlife experts are adamant that relocation of the mob can be done successfully with minimal stress.

That knowing comes from deep experience of rescue, rehabilitation and dealing with a wide variety of situations where kangaroos find themselves needing help. In addition, there are successful mob relocations (*).

DELWP fails our kangaroos, and the public in 2 major ways.

First, they claim that 40% will die when relocated. That has been proven wildly wrong, more than once, by people in the field (**).

Second, their own guidelines stress the need to attempt all non-lethal means of solving problems ahead of reverting to the bullet. Did they do that? No they did not even try. They did not enter discussions with those who are willing and able to manage a relocation.

The developer wanted to use relocation, but DELWP does not support any such humane outcome.

The Black Summer loss of wildlife should, at a minimum, cause a rethink of the old ways.

Australians, and the local community, want more for our iconic kangaroos. Andy Meddick (AJP) has a capable team ready to act.

If DELWP supports the kill option over relocation, then we (humans) really are monsters. (***)

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(*)  About 4 years ago, approximately 100 kangaroos were relocated successfully from a Wildlife Fauna Park in Victoria.

In 2017, more than 200 kangaroos were successfully relocated at Bathurst.

(**)  If relocation fails it is due to mishandling and lack of suitable skills.

(***)  DELWP claims that culling (killing) is the most humane option; BUT it is not possible to cull kangaroos in a humane manner. Shooting and killing a mob of kangaroos is extremely distressing to the tight family bonds among the animals. That is why they live in mobs, they know each other and have familial and friendship bonds. Joeys will suffer extremely in any cull because the at foot joeys are separated from their mothers and the pouch joeys are torn from the pouch and bludgeoned to death.

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FURTHER INFORMATION:

Chris Lehmann, Save the Kinley Estate Kangaroos

Australian Wildlife Protection Council Inc.
PO Box 302, Bungendore NSW 2621
M: 0434 479 459
ABN 85 240 279 616
Patron: Hon Peter Singer


RELATED STORY:  The Agile Project wins approval for nation’s largest relocation of wallabies after three-year battle

 

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Sometimes sad and unfair things happen (Vic)

wombat-ill-treatment-Chris-Lehmann

I HAVE BEEN TREATING this wombat for sarcoptic mange since early June. The 2nd major treatment was yesterday afternoon, when myself and the local landowners were enjoying seeing the improved condition and alertness of this animal. She was definitely on the road back to normal.

Julie, who is the landowner, contacted me this afternoon because she found our dear wombat dead on the grass. Someone had deliberately run over her while she was eating grass. The tyre tracks are pretty obvious.

— Chris Lehmann, Facebook post. 23 July 2020

 

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Three days at a border fireground (Vic, NSW)

corryong-fire-grounds

AWPC committee member and long-time wildlife rescuer Chris Lehmann spent three days on the post-fire ground between between Victoria and NSW around Albury and Corryong in early February.  Here is his first hand initial report and also a youtube clip from that journey.

The new AWPC committee supports all community efforts to help bring emergency assistance, including food and water drops, to fire survivors as well as to areas that are so dry that animals have lost their natural sustenance (and that might burn next!)

State governments in Victoria and NSW have yet to take leadership or action on helping the wildlife survivors bar a few well-publiced food drops to endangered wallabies.

Landholders and the wider community, including volunteers from overseas are leading the way with generosity and dedication.


My first expression of what I saw at Corryong:

Longing for life

We spent 3 days in the fire grounds of Corryong, some 30 days after Corryong was evacuated because of the fire storms that had destroyed Woormargama, Burrowa, Pine, and Mittamatite Forests plus much of the farmland and many homes around.

We were searching for life.

Mt Mittamatite is a local mountain forest covering about 100 square kms. There might have been 100,000+ furred and feathered animals living on just Mt Mittamatite. Now, 30 days later, as a result of daily searches (over the last few weeks) well into the early hours of the morning, a local wildlife carer estimates there is 50–100 animals surviving there.

He has identified the very few patches of forest that have enough cover and dregs of food for survival and has committed to providing water and food for those few survivors. Those 50–100 kangaroos, wallabies and wombats will be the genesis of the recovery of the mountain.

Life is there, we found it — but the lack of water and good food is too real.

We need to support these animals for a few months. On Tuesday we [sent] 30–40 bags of carrots up to Bellaboo Wildlife Shelter who will lead the water station and food drop effort.

 


A 2nd report from the Corryong Fire Grounds, February 2020.

(Click above text to link to the written post on the Kangaloola Wildlife Shelter Inc. Facebook page.)

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