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Rotary Clubs Go Wild for Wildlife Conservation
day, species across the planet become extinct.And for each species that
becomes extinct, many more become endangered due to habitat loss, poaching,
human activities, and climate change.From the tiny western pygmy possum
to the mighty African elephant, Rotarians across Australia, New Zealand, and
the South West Pacific are taking their place in the fight to preserve and
protect our natural world.
is a look at some of those Rotary wildlife projects.
New pad for white 'roos
Rotary Club of Bordertown, South Australia, recently built shelters for
Bordertown Wildlife Park’s famous mob of white kangaroos. The
roos needed shelter, but the park couldn’t afford workers -- something the
Rotary Club of Bordertown was happy to provide. The
roos were already snubbing tin shelters. “It was too loud when it rained,” said
club member Trevor Butler. The solution: Using native broombush for new
bunch of Rotarians went down to a property in Willalooka with lots of
broombush, cutting off a trailer load of big bundles,” Butler said. “We then
built a frame and had to learn how to thatch properly. It was a learning curve
as we hadn’t done that sort of thing before.” After
all this effort, it wasn’t certain the white kangaroos would take to their new
one freezing, wet day, not long after the shelters went up, Trevor took a look
on his way to work. “Sure enough, they were all huddled in the two thatched
shelters – and none were in the tin shed.” The
Rotary club is planning to build additional shelters.
Protecting New Zealand’s national treasures
more than one in three of New Zealand’s native bird species now at risk, it is
a race against time to prevent a vast array of species from vanishing
Central Energy Trust Wildbase Recovery project, aimed at the conservation of
national treasures such as the kiwi and takahe, is now well underway, thanks to
Rotary’s involvement. Rotary
clubs have played a critical and significant role from the very beginning.
Scott Bruce of the Rotary Club of Milson, New Zealand, was the project founder
and funding leader, while Rodney Wong, of the Rotary Club of Awapuni, New
Zealand, has acted as project advisor throughout.
clubs in Milson and Awapuni provided the initial seed funding of $10,000 and
pro bono support for the formation of a charitable trust to raise further
funds. Roughly $38,000 has been donated in cash by Rotary clubs, and Rotary-led
fundraising efforts have produced in-kind donations totaling $330,000.
networks and credibility has also helped ensure the right people knew about the
project, such as CEOs and senior executives of key organizations. Now, just
over $5.84 million has been raised, which is funding construction and operation
of the facility.
Nest boxes provide homes
clearing and demand for firewood across the country has resulted in the removal
of many timeworn trees with hollows, which presents a grave problem for a
variety of threatened native species that use these hollows for shelter and to
raise young. Since
it takes at least 100 years for suitable hollows to develop in newly planted
trees, the Rotary Nest Box Project (ROBIN) places nest boxes as substitutes
throughout bushland. After
more than 25 years, Rotary Clubs have made more than 5,000 nesting boxes.
addition, clubs have sent specifically designed nesting boxes to Kangaroo
Island, contributing towards the preservation of the endangered glossy black
cockatoo. Clubs have also helped preserve the feathertail glider, the western
pygmy possum, rainbow lorikeets, and even Gould’s wattled bats.
has also awarded significant grants to eight Honours and PhD students to
conduct research projects related to the preservation of native birds and
Borneo’s pygmy elephants
visiting the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Borneo, New Zealand,
Rotarian Debbie Mair fell in love – with a pair of fuzzy orphaned pygmy
elephants. The babies found themselves alone after their mothers wandered onto
a palm plantation in search of food and were killed.
reducing space and food sources, as well as poaching have reduced the pygmy
elephant population to a mere 1,500 wild elephants worldwide. With the babies
consuming an average of 100 litres of milk per day, Debbie purchased as much
locally available milk powder for them as she could. More orphaned elephants soon
arrived, spurring her to further action.
don’t want future generations to only see these wild animals on video,” she
said. Debbie and her fellow rescuers founded the Rotarian Action Group for
Endangered Species (RAGES).
group has endorsed four projects aimed at helping some of our planet’s most
threatened animals: rhinos, gorillas, orangutans, and African and pygmy
has built partnerships with organizations and businesses across the globe. It
is also involving youth through coloring contests for younger students and
animal-tracking programs for high school students. “This is Rotary
evolving to teach the younger generation how, why, where, and when we make a
difference,” Debbie said.
clubs are helping rapidly disappearing hairy nosed wombats at Rocklily Wombats,
a wildlife refuge in North West Shelf, Australia.
are an estimated 230 northern hairy-nosed wombats left on the planet. Southern hairy-nosed
wombats only remain in a few small pockets, and the common wombat is no longer
common. Habitat loss and competition for food from livestock and feral species
present large challenges.
addition to helping make repairs on the property, clubs also help deliver kits
to combat mange, a deadly disease caused by mites. The mites burrow under the
skin, causing the wombats to scratch incessantly until they suffer painful and
clubs also have developed a program for returning orphaned wombats to the wild.
so important not to treat rescues as pets, though of course you fall in love,”
said Dianna Bisset, who runs Rocklily. “They need to learn to be wary of things
like humans and dogs for their own safety. Otherwise, you’re training them to
with requiring vast amounts of time and effort, running the rescue is also
costly, with special milk needed for wombat babies, veterinary bills, and other
expenses mounting into the thousands of dollars each month.
amount of work the Bissets put in – getting up at all hours to feed babies,
driving for hours to do pick-ups, and endless property maintenance – is
amazing,” said Rotarian Ian Scott. “We’re pleased Rotary can give them a hand
caring for our special native animals.”
NOTES: Reprinted with permission from Rotary Down Under
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