Category Archives: Features

Elephant conservation and understanding of our animal friends, wildlife tourism


WITH LITTLE TO cheer about on the Australian native animal conservation front, it was encouraging to hear that as a member of the International Convention opposing Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna, our representative, [federal environment minister] Sussan Ley joined Australia to the list of countries agreeing to ban the import of ivory.

Unfortunately, not all countries have agreed to this ban and thousands of elephants are still being killed every year for their tusks. China hasn’t signed and it is the biggest customer.

I visited a National Park in Nairobi, Kenya (image above) where an elephant nursery exists to foster baby elephants which have lost their mothers from poaching, snaring, or trapping as part of the illegal but on-going trade in ivory tusks, or as a result of natural hazards such as falling down wells or being swept away while crossing flooded rivers.

It was a thrill to witness a long line of half-grown, rescued  elephants  trumpeting with happy anticipation as they trooped in to the tourist area to be fed enormous bottles of milk before rolling in the dirt and following their keepers back to the bush, where they spend a part of each day before returning to their rooms.

”Baby elephants are sensitive, intelligent creatures that grow up in the care and protection of the herd.” Australian wildlife carers observed the same about orphaned natives, like kangaroo joeys.

The elephant nursery is the public face of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT) founded by Dame Daphne Sheldrick in 1977 in memory of her husband David Sheldrick, first warden of Tsavo National Park, and a dedicated conservationist. Daphne (pictured) was an English girl who grew up as a child in the highlands of Kenya with a bevy of animal pets to care for. Her love for animals led to a passion for elephants threatened with extinction in the wild.

Respect and nature’s balance 

In one of her books Daphne wrote: “Animals are more complex, and in many ways more sophisticated than us. They are more perfect because they remain within Nature’s perfect symmetry just as Nature intended. They should all be respected and revered, but perhaps more none more so than the elephant, the world’s most emotionally human land mammal.”

Baby elephants are sensitive, intelligent creatures that grow up in the care and protection of the herd. When Daphne adopted orphaned babies she learnt from hard experience that they needed lots of attention and a special diet of no-fat cow’s milk and coconut oil in order to survive.

This requirement along with their need for human company makes it necessary for them to be fed every three hours for 24 hours with gradual weaning from the bottle over a fairly lengthy period of time. Like human babies elephant babies need warmth, security, and company. They sleep under blankets next to their keepers for comfort when they’ve been abandoned or injured.

The ties that bind

Kenyan keepers at the nursery are required to move from one orphaned elephant to another in order for them not to form a bond so close that it will inhibit the elephant’s later acceptance by the herd and result in a reduced chance of survival in the wild.

In order to achieve successful rehabilitation and give young elephants a greater chance to achieve independence, a half-way house — where they are free to come and go — has been established in a different area of the park. As one keeper said emphatically: “These elephant babies are kept, not for zoos or circuses, but to be released back into their natural habitat!”

Even so there are times when elephant attachments are so strong that ex-orphans successfully assimilated with wild ones in their natural habitat are still known to return to the stockades. They are likely to do this for help when injured, or alarmed, or even just to show off new-born calves [similar situational returns have been noted for Australian macropods]. As Daphne said in one of her many public lectures in America and London, “elephants never forget”.

As knowledge of the success of Mama Elephant’s nursery grew locally, the Wildlife Fund was able to expand its fundraising, and conservation education activities overseas with lectures, books, and a documentary film Born to be Wild. Daphne Sheldrick was made a Dame of the British Empire by the British queen; and honoured by the Kenyan government and the United Nations for her life work in animal conservation.

Inspiring work goes on

The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, even after the death of its founder in 2018, still carries out all aspects of its animal rescue and rehabilitation work. Including alerting people to the alarming rate of animal extinction, and the importance of preserving natural habitats. Best known for its pioneering Orphans Project, the SWT working in conjunction with the Kenya Wildlife Service currently funds and operates 14 de-snaring teams, as well as supporting the work of rangers, financing mobile veterinary units and operating 14 surveillance planes in order to combat elephant and rhino poaching.

In the words of David Attenborough, in his book A Life on our Planet: “Nature is far from unlimited. The wild is finite. It needs protecting.”

We are indebted to Daphne Sheldrick and conservationists like her who devote their lives to the protection of precious wildlife.

By Susan Cruttenden, Dalmeny, NSW
Images Author supplied.


GREAT NEWS! German supermarkets drop Kangaroo meat


German retailers Kaufland, Real, Lidl, and V-Markt and pet-food manufacturer BEWITAL have agreed to stop selling kangaroo-meat products. The news comes after a joint letter signed by several organisations, including PETA* Germany, informed them about the cruelty inherent in kangaroo hunting in Australia.

Cruel Slaughter

In Australia, more than 1.5 million kangaroos are shot every year to make pet food, steaks, and leather products. Hunters shine blinding lights and fire rifles at dusk when kangaroos are grazing peacefully. Then, the injured animals are decapitated or hit sharply on the head before their flesh is butchered and their skin is torn off so it can be exported and made into accessories often labelled as k-leather.

Following graphic photos of charred kangaroos and reports that huge swathes of their habitat were decimated by recent bushfires in Australia, putting them under ever-increasing pressure, more and more people are demanding an end to the government-sanctioned slaughter. We’re delighted that these German supermarkets have made the right decision to end their involvement in this barbaric killing.

By PETA (*People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), 19 Nov 2020.

IMAGE: Vladislav Jirousek, Dreamstime.

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Parra Waripa — Red Kangaroo Song

PARRA WARIPA - Red Kangaroo Song

We are thrilled at the success of this song. We couldn’t be happier with our collaboration with David Bridie (seven-time ARIA award-winning songwriter and composer) and Jida Gulpilil proud multi-clan man from Dja Dja Wurrung and Wamba Wamba. PARRA WARIPA is the title track to KANGAROO A Love-Hate Story.

“All over the world audiences are stunned by the beauty of the music and Wemba Wemba language.”
— Kate McIntyre Clere. Co-director of KANGAROO.


Composed by David Bridie, Performed by Jida Gulpilil.

PARRA WARIPA (Red Kangaroo) is sung in the Wemba Wemba language, spoken by the Wamba Wamba and Perrepa Perrepa people from the Riverina Region of New South Wales. We are honoured that Parra Waripa has reached #1 on the AMRAP (Australian Music Radio Airplay Project) charts this NAIDOC week.

If you haven’t listened, danced to and shared the song, you better get to it.


— The Kangaroo Team

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Kangaroos are only good for …


“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.

AWPC joins with Kangaroos Alive ( 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

*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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World Kangaroo Day — Live and let live


with kangaroos, wildlife

AWPC member Maria Taylor shares her block with some kangaroos. Why it’s great.
Everyone can share with their local wildlife.
This clip “The Joy of Living with Kangaroos” was filmed during the recent drought in eastern Australia.


Filmed by Creative Cowboy.





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Koalas over Barilaro any day

NSW PREMIER GLADYS Berejiklian will stand her ground and refuse the Nationals’ demands for an urgent cabinet meeting to debate planning policy relating to koalas.

Her stance is likely to infuriate the junior Coalition partner, which has threatened to boycott a joint party room meeting next week ahead of a parliamentary sitting period.

It may also see two Nationals MPs, Chris Gulaptis and Gurmesh Singh, sit on the crossbench next week, which would leave the Berejiklian government without a majority in the lower house.

The issue is causing bitter division in the Coalition and threatens to split the government.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro on Monday asked Ms Berejiklian to hold a special cabinet meeting on September 14 to urgently debate issues around the guidelines which form part of a State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) that seeks to protect koala habitat.

NSW Berejiklian government in chaos as Nationals quit over koala protection policy
By Anne Davies, The Guardian. 10 September 2020

The Nationals want Planning Minister Rob Stokes to agree to a raft of changes, including the definition of core koala habitat, before Parliament resumes next Tuesday.

But on Tuesday Ms Berejiklian ruled out the special meeting and said the issue would be added to a further cabinet agenda. She also backed Mr Stokes.

“There are scheduled cabinet meetings and of course, that issue will be discussed at a scheduled cabinet meeting,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“I’m really pleased with the way in which Mr Stokes has listened to the concerns of members and I feel that he has continued to provide a good balance where we protect one of our most loved species but also protect the property rights of people.”

By Alexandra Smith, The Sydney Morning Herald.  8 September 2020

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