Tag listing: Wildlife

Warrawong future

In its heyday Warrawong Wildlife Sanctuary was a byword for environmental innovation.
Dr John Wamsley gained a well-deserved reputation for turning the degraded dairy farm into a feral animal-free habitat for the conservation of endangered Australian wildlife, including platypuses.
Now the 10ha property is less than a third of its original size and has remained unused as a working tourist operation for two years since Zoos SA walked away from the sanctuary because the business was unsustainable under a new planning regime.
It has taken two years for the land owners at the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority to wind up the lease.
Let’s hope it doesn’t take another two years to find a new role for this once landmark site.
The longer it stays vacant, the more the site and its amazingly valuable branding kudos will deteriorate.
It would be a tragedy if an asset such as Warrawong was left to wither on the vine and its history of educating people about the value and importance of Australian flora and fauna was not continued in some form.

Changing times

People play politics … nature does not.
The story in this week’s Courier that grape growers have noticed a significant trend towards earlier harvests and more compressed ripening periods between varieties is clear evidence that the natural world is changing as the climate warms.
Viticulture consultant Richard Hamilton’s evidence that his cabernet sauvignon grapes are ripening today more than a month earlier than was usual in the late 1980s is further proof of the changes.
Many farmers will recall regularly making hay in November or December whereas now it is often finished in October.
Such examples of major agricultural changes in just a few years indicate the rapid rate to which nature is adapting to climate change.
The policy makers and the general population would be well advised to take heed of these alarming warning signs because the cost of inaction might have us all in hot water.

Cat complaints

It will be interesting to observe if there is any reaction to the Adelaide Hills Council’s call for cat owners to ensure their cats do not roam.
The overwhelming majority of dog owners take reasonable measures to make sure their pets are confined but for some reason, perhaps because cats are more difficult to contain, the same level of responsibility does not exist to cats.
Putting the cat out at night with the empty milk bottles was once a common pre-bedtime ritual in many households.
But too many people have the same mindset today – minus the milk bottles of course!
Cats can be wonderful pets for many people. They offer companionship and something to love. They are especially well suited to the elderly, young families, those living with backyards too small or without the time or ability to exercise a dog.
Sadly they are also remarkable predators which have successfully colonised almost every corner of the planet.
Even a well fed domesticated cat is lethal to smaller wildlife and they make no distinction between native and introduced species.
So a great mouser is almost certainly a great birder.
No doubt there are some cats for which hunting is not a high priority but to put a cat out at night or to let it wander at large is signing a death sentence for something.
Bells attached to collars are mostly ineffective.
The only foolproof way to prevent a cat from harming wildlife is to confine it – either to its owner’s home or a cat run.
But it’s not just about killing. In some circumstances there can also be legitimate grievances with cats defecating and spraying their territory on neighboring properties.
It would no doubt add insult to injury to have to smell the scent of a neighbor’s cat all night after it sprayed your bedroom window having previously watched it munching on a blue wren in the back garden.
The Adelaide Hills Council’s call for residents to keep a diary of when they see cats causing a nuisance in order to develop a case against the animal’s owner is a bold initiative.
In the past the council has not developed stronger legislation such as cat registration but this latest push shows a commitment to ensuring cat owners do not completely ignore their responsibilities.
Just how many cat complaints the council receives and how involved in some disputes it may find itself is yet to be seen.
Given that many residents in this district hold native wildlife in high regard, some cat owners may find themselves having to think a little more carefully about what it means to own such a pet.

Rally in parks

Belair National Park is a State icon that attracts more than 250,000 visitors a year.
It has a dedicated ‘friends’ group whose members were rather surprised to find out, second-hand, that a  motor sport competition was planning to run a stage on a circuit of sealed roads through the park.