2012 AUSTRALIAN WILDLIFE REHABILITATION CONFERENCE by Jenny Ovenden

In July 2012 I attended the Australian Wildlife Rehabilitator’s Conference in Townsville. Thanks for the mighty push from Brenda that got me there and enjoying the lovely companionship of Denise, Brenda and Lynne. On so many issues this conference [my first] was inspirational. The organisation, the highly motivational and informative presentations, the audio-visual aspects and the carers, etc. from all over Australia united by a common focus – the importance of conserving our unique wildlife.

 

The presenters ranged from carers, rescuers, vets, through to scientists and researchers. So much that is positive happening. Each presenter had 20 minutes to speak plus 10 minutes question time. Twelve presentations per day. Everything strictly running to time. Wow!! Transcripts of presentations were provided. This allowed us to read ahead. The venue was a large conference room at the Rydges hotel complete with circular tables each seating 8 and 4 very large screens on 3 of the 4 room walls for visual presentations. Beautifully put together visual stories set the tone for each day. The emcee was quite charismatic and introduced humour and inducement to ensure the very tight schedule was adhered to.

Recapping of each day often took place in the evening with room mates or whenever other delegates were at the same place at the same time, the opportunity to talk to other carers and people who have a passion for our wildlife was not to be missed. Approachability of participants and presenters with awe inspiring stories of battles fought on behalf of wildlife carried out by local groups – including :

the re-location of a proposed railway line to ensure preservation of vital koala habitat;

the mass rescue of kangaroos marooned on an island after sudden severe flooding;

rescue, treatment and successful release of turtles stranded in a dry lake;

surveys of areas to establish suitability of habitat as a possible release site for possums;

protection and monitoring of endangered species, eg the beautiful Mahogany Glider;

official research and fieldwork carried out to address diseases decimating some species, eg Chlamydia in koalas [a vaccine has been developed and trialled];

rescue, treatment and data collection about skin diseases in Brush-tailed possums in coastal NSW.

 

These are a few stories randomly selected –

 

Reports of the precarious position of some of our better known species, eg Koala, Tasmanian Devil, Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat and scarily, the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat and Common Wombat. Falling numbers in the Grey-headed Flying Fox and kangaroos [yes].

 

Underlying all is the threat of major habitat loss, not just for the above, but, just as seriously for the many, many, many, lesser known or even unknown species of fauna. On the second last night Brenda and I attended a meeting [open to all regarding the formation of a National Wildlife Body – an ongoing issue. It would be very interesting to find out where that move has been developed to as there were two Victorian carers very much involved.

 

At the end of conference dinner there was a most inspirational speaker John Young presenting ‘100 of My Favourite Images. John has worked on filming projects with Sir David Attenborough. This photographer has located [hopefully] the habitat of the Night Parrot [thought to be extinct], he was so excited by the prospect of obtaining photographic proof that the bird existed that he could barely contain himself during his talk and presentation. As soon as he had finished with us he was heading back to the location, his excitement knew no bounds as he excitedly and occasionally reminded us of his forthcoming adventure [isn’t it great to listen to someone talk about a great passion]. I have watched the media but am yet to see any report. Fingers crossed.

 

So many determined people achieving positive outcomes for wildlife – not just those at the conference but across Australia.

 

I couldn’t help thinking of the quietly fantastic work done by those in Bendigo and surrounding districts – well done all of you.

 

If you possibly can manage to attend, the next conference will be in Hobart in 2014. Let’s do a group trip. I’m sure Denise, Brenda and Lynne will tell you we had a ball. I have the notes from the presentations, or they are available on the website if anyone is interested.

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