research into feeding of ducks, magpies and other birds doe not really support the common idea that feeding birds causes them to be so dependent on humans that they will forget (or just not bother) to gather their own natural food. Although hand-fed birds eat a slightly lesser proportion of their natural foods than birds that are not fed, the majority of their daily food still comes from natural source4s, even when feeding hungry chicks
crows in New Caledonia don’t just use tools but make them and carry them around to different food sources, and research suggest a higher level of understanding of what they are doing than many would expect
dogs play a greater role in the deaths of koalas each year than suggested by reports from carers, and there is a general need for more robust record-keeping in relation to koala deaths, rescue and rehabilitation.
animal ethics and eco ethics are sometimes in conflict (e.g. what to do about over-populations of kangaroos in some districts) and the solutions are not simple (I’m not sure that I agree with the suggestion pf re-introducing dingos to such areas to solve the problem – not necessarily a kinder end for the kangaroo, I’m not sure that killing animals by releasing a predator is ethically different from killing them directly, practically I think there would be many objections to this from local residents where the kangaroos are in farming or semi-residential areas, and the dingo is not strictly native anyway, although it has been in Australia a long time)
an experiment on the effects of regular handling on wombats showed the wombats modified their behaviour and were more easily approached, but still showed physiological stress, suggesting they were not really learning to relax and trust the humans so much as learning they couldn’t really do anything about it so it was more energy-efficient to just allow themselves to be approached and handled and get it over with
although there has been a lot more discouragement of the feeding of wildlife in Australia for various reasons than in other countries, a very similar proportion of Australians still do it, probably because of a desire for conection with nature and wildlife in an increasingly urbanized population
although the white ibis is seen as a pest in suburbia, most people preferred control methods that did not harm the birds or their nests (e.g. not make the waste they often feed on so accessible)
bird and bat strike is a serious problem for aircraft and some countries have introduced monitoring and forecasting systems rather similar to weather forecasting so that pilots have a better chance of not flying into flocks (this is an improvement for both people and birds)
an organization called The Brooke gives information to tourists allowing them to make a quick assessment as to whether it is okay to use the horse or donkey transport they are offered in various countries, and to realize that although they should avoid those which mistreat the animals often whole families depend for their livelihood on the service they offer.
I also discovered that the Ship Inn, next to the conference venue in Southbank Parklands, does very tasty meals an include gluten-free and vegan meals, and only uses meat from free-range animals (including pigs – hard to find this in most places) and fish from sustainable harvesting. They also do great coffee (I usually prefer tea, but their lattes and cappuccinos are great).
“Imagine if your home security was monitored by a howling pack of dingoes? Could you share the couch with a koala that has a thing for reality TV? And what about being woken up every morning by the lick of a Ringtail Possum sitting comfortably on your face.
Welcome to Chris Humfrey’s world. He’s a zoologist, passionate about wildlife, who lives with his wife Nicole and their young family on a sprawling private zoo in country Victoria. With more than 2000 amazing creatures in their care – including their daughters Taasha (4 yrs) and Charlie-Ashe (6 yrs) – Chris and Nicole share their property with an enthusiastic crew of Gen Y zookeepers. Every waking minute is consumed by animal and human dramas and dilemmas of one kind or another.”
So begins an introduction to Chris Humfrey’s TV series “Wild Life”
Each week for the past 5 weeks Wildlife Tourism Australia has been asking a set of easy questions, the winner each week recevign from Universal Pictures (Australasia) a complete set of DVDs of the entire first series.
The day attracted a fair crowd despite being wet and windy and various organic foods, environmental technologies and environmental issues were on display.
The following day we took adavantage of a special offer and headed out on the Spirit of the Gold Coast for whale-watching. The whales were not especially playful that day, but we did see a few blows and tails – always great to see!
It is common to walk through a forest full of wildlife and never see an animal.
It is also common for governments and developers to call in environmental consultants towards the end of plans for a new major development, when there is too little time left to find what species of concern may be present.
Why the difficulty in finding wildlife?
Most Australian mammals are nocturnal
Most Australian mammals, birds and lizards are small
Most of our small marsupials and native rodents live amongst dense vegetation on the ground,which combined with nocturnal habits and shyness makes them difficult to see
Others live and feed in tall trees, and the smaller, nocturnal oes can easily be over-looked
Some birds and lizards are very well camouflaged, and when they ‘freeze’ can be very difficult to see, even if you know more or less where they are
Animals that live solitary lives and have large home-ranges (like the quoll in the photo) can be so sparsely distributed through an area that it is very much a matter of luck to be searching in the right place
Frogs may be present in large numbers and calling (or on other nights silent) but in a sheltered position totally out of sight (and when so many animals eat frogs, it’s easy to understand why)
Many animals are ‘shy’ (not a social condition so much as an adaptation to avoid being eaten), and disappear from view as soon as they hear, smell or see our approach
Small insectivorous bats may be seen fleetingly, but there are so many species in any locality it is impossible to identify them without a close-up look or analysis of their calls
Does it matter if animals are hard to detect?
For the amateur naturalist, researcher or the visitor to a region it can be frustrating, as many hours can be spent without finding the animals of interest (although I always enjoy the whole atmosphere of the forest or outback shrublands even when nothing is found)
For the conservation manager, lack of information on what animal is present may lead to wrong decisions – e.g. what times are appropriate for burning the understorey, what trees are okay to remove, which habitat fragments are important to connect.
Fr local governments deciding on approval of a major development, a list of common birds and easily-detected mammals such as brushtail possums and wallabies may look okay on and environmental impact statement but miss out the rarer, more threatened species that need special consideration.
How do we find rare and cryptic animals?
The book by Barbara Triggs “Tracks, Scats and Other Traces” is valuable for detecting the presence of Australian mammals and some of our other cryptic species
Getting familiar with the calls of frogs, nocturnal mammals and cryptic birds is pretty well essential – Dave Stewart’s NatureSound collection is an invaluable tool for this
Getting out there anr being patient – there are far worse ways of spending a few hours than sitting in a forest listening quietly for rustles, squeaks and scratches, and you can gain a lot of insights into forest life by doing so (as well as being a good spot for meditating on other things without phone or email or knocks on the door)
Books, journals and google – there is a fantastic amount of information out there nowadays (although there is also still much as yet unknown)
workshops, discussion groups etc.
Wildlife workshop on rare and cryptic fauna: May 2011
Organized by Scenic Rim Wildlife, sponsored by the Scenic Rim Regional Council
Where? The Outlook, Boonah, Scenic Rim. Southeast Queensland
When? 10.00am – 4.30pm with optional field trip to follow, Saturday 7th May 2011
I have just returned from the German Alumni Summer School in Lombok, Indonesia (I’m not part of the alumni, but was invited as a representative from Australia by Professor Jolanta Slowik after she participated in our post-conference Intecol tour in 2009).
What wildlife activities would you like to be involved in? Scenic Rim Wildlife (Scenic Rim branch of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland) is running a survey to find out out the kinds of activities folk would most like to participate in over the next few months. If you live in or near the Scenic Rim (Southeast Queensland) or visit from time to time, please let us know by completing our strictly confidential 2-minute survey
Regrettably the decision was made yesterday to cancel the wildlife tourism conference in September, due to insufficient registrations to cover costs.
Whether or not there will be one in the future is simply not known at this stage.
At least in this age of electronic communication there is ample opportunity to exchange ideas and information without fossil-fuel-burning journeys (although there is still something satisfying about face-to face meetings, round-table discussions and brainstorming sessions).
Some of the details are still being worked out, but it will include the following:
Tuesday: August 31st.
Icebreaker, 6.00- 8.00pm, Currumbin Sanctuary
Wednesday September 1st:
Introductory talks by Johnathon Fisher (manager,Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuarty) and Pip Chalk (chair, WIldlife Tourism Australia)
Keynote addresses: (1) Shane O’Reilly (Long association with O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, which is one of Australia’s longest-running and best-known eco-resorts, now working for Tourism Queensland (main state tourism body), and former director of Gold Coast Touirsm) “Leech tourism” and (2) Steve Parish (Australia’s best-known wildlife photographer, and prolific publisher) “Heart and Soul”.
Workshop – ‘Walking the Walk‘ (how wildlife tourism operations large and small can best contribute to wildlife conservation)
Contributed papers (see below)
Behind the Scenes tour of Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary (numbers limited)
Thursday September 2nd
Early morning behind the Scenes tour of Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary (for those who missed out on Wednesday)
Breakfast with the Birds, Currumbin Sanctuary
Keynote addresses: (1) Clem Tisdell - economic benefits of wildlife tourism; (2) Darryl Jones – Darryl Jones
‘The extinction of experience and the experience of extinction: Why direct interactions matter”.
Keynote adresses: (1) Nick Mooney (conservationist, ‘Australian of the year’) title TBA, and (2) David Newsome (author of book ‘Wildlife Tourism’) “‘Tourism and wildlife icons: lessons learnt and views on visitor satisfaction’”
Workshop: ‘Managing Visitor Diversity’ (wildlife interpretation for all nationalities, socio-economic groups etc., exchange of ideas, sharing of experiences)
Contributed papers (see below)
“‘That’s totally disgusting’: Managing negative emotions within the context of captive wildlife exhibits“ – Nancy Cushing, School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Newcastle and Kevin Markwell, School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, Southern Cross University
“Eric Worrell: a pioneer of Australian wildlife tourism – Kevin Markwell, School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, Southern Cross University and Nancy Cushing, School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Newcastle
Wildlife tourism potential for the Global Tiger Initiative – Steve Noakes (Griffith University), Richard Damania (World Bank)
Facilitating profound experiences with wildlife – Liam Smith, Betty Weiler and Sam Ham
The Poetics of Wild – Dr Jayne Fenton Keane
A need for promoting care and concern for wildlife: A call for flagship species and anthropomorphism – Amy M. Smith, Liam Smith, Betty Weiler, Tourism Research Unit, Monash University
Kimberley Whale Watching Tourism: Opportunities and Threats – Prof. Jack Carlsen and Dr Michael Hughes, Curtin Sustainable Tourism Centre,Curtin University, Western Australia