Aug 12, 2021

Spotlight on the Short-beaked Echidna

Adult echidna in care with WIRES by Bec Crozier
Adult echidna in care with WIRES by Bec Crozier
This waddling creature that 'snuffles' as it searches for food is an Echidna and they are Australia's most widespread native mammal. Despite their wide distribution they are shy and infrequently seen.
 
Along with Platypus, Echidna are grouped into a separate order of mammals known as monotremes. They are different from other mammals because they lay eggs and the milk is provided for their young by being secreted from a 'milk patch' on the female’s abdomen.

Their snouts are strong, allowing them to break open logs and termite mounds. Echidnas feed by slurping up ants and other insects with their long, sticky, saliva-covered tongue.

Echidna are often most often sighted during the breeding season which is late winter through to early spring. The male echidna follow scent trails of females. The males, sometimes as many as 10, form a line behind the female and can follow her around for days or weeks until she chooses one to mate with.

Amazingly they are excellent swimmers and have been seen crossing wide rivers and beaches to swim and groom themselves in the sea. While swimming they put their beaks in the air and use them like snorkels!

Many calls received at WIRES are regarding echidnas that have 'dug' themselves in, and do not seem to want to move on. If you approach an echidna it defends itself the only way it can, by digging into the ground and this happens whenever it feels insecure or in danger. It may also roll itself into a ball or cling on to any surface it can.

Did you know young echidna are known as puggles?

This tiny echidna puggle (pictured below) was found alone in a horse paddock. The tiny puggle was trying to dig into the gravel in order to hide. The owner of the property called WIRES straight away knowing such a tiny animal was in urgent need of help.

Trying to dig when so young caused some damage to his/her feet as you can see in the photo, but treatment and TLC will ensure this damage is not long term.

After examination and hydration the puggle settled into care with a WIRES carer who already had another even smaller puggle in care.

On this little one you can see the tiny spines are showing through the skin so not too long now before it will become a more prickly puggle!
This strange little creature is an echidna puggle.
This strange little creature is an echidna puggle.

Links:

Aug 8, 2021

Capacity Building to Preserve Australian Wildlife

Rescued Kangaroo joey in care with WIRES
Rescued Kangaroo joey in care with WIRES

Thanks to you, we are continuing to provide support for Australian animals. As we move further into the recovery phase we are collaborating with a broad range of organisations to fund projects that address the impacts of the changed environmental landscape, support the recovery of wildlife habitat and the long-term preservation of native species.

During this stage a key element is building national capacity and enhancing emergency response to reduce the risk to wildlife when future emergencies strike. By forming strong alliances and providing funding for long-term programs we are rolling out numerous projects and programs across Australia.

Some of the key projects in this phase are outlined below:

Professional Veterinary Wildlife Training

Funding has been provided to Vets Beyond Borders to train 50-60 more vets and/or vet nurses to treat wildlife within the next 12 months. This will significantly improve capacity to treat more animals impacted by future emergency events and ongoing environmental changes.

Wildlife Training Grants

In the aftermath of the Summer of 2020 we developed a course to help existing wildlife rescue organisations to recruit and train more volunteers.

Our Training Grants allow members from eligible rescue organisations access to WIRES training for free, allowing them to recruit and train more volunteers in basic wildlife rescue. WIRES has already confirmed support for 525 volunteers across 11 organisations as part of this grant program.

In conjunction with other emergency preparedness plans it is key to increase ongoing rescue and care capacity, to be able to assist more sick, injured and orphaned wildlife on an ongoing basis, and in response to major emergencies.

NSW Rehabilitation Capacity Building

The state of NSW bore the brunt of the 2020 fires with more than 5.5 million hectares destroyed or impacted. Over the coming weeks we will be starting a major project to identify current rehabilitation gaps and identify key facilities and capacity requirements for specific species across the state.

This project will:

  • Map existing facilities to understand current capacity
  • Analyse rescue data to understand regional needs and trends
  • Analyse availability of trained volunteers by species in each region
  • Seek to understand gaps and requirements for optimal capacity and best practice care
  • Improve understanding of local needs, gaps and requirements for prioritising capacity needs 

Wildlife Research Grants Program

Our Wildlife Research Grants Program will be launching in early 2022 in conjunction with the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales.

The objective of this program is to address the significant knowledge gaps surrounding Australian native species including biology, ecology, and conservation. Recent major ecological tragedies including drought, fires, and floods as well as an ever-growing threatened species list have clearly highlighted the vulnerability of native animals and the need to find effective strategies to mitigate major threats.

Research will focus on habitat and species recovery post emergencies, emergency risk reduction and preparedness, and species conservation.

Koala Health Hub update

The Koala Health Hub (KHH) at the University of Sydney was the recipient of a three-year grant from WIRES. The grant has sustained the KHH and allowed it to respond to a dramatic increase in need for koala care and management following long-term drought, loss of habitat and other significant impacts on their populations.

WIRES and KHH work together to deliver improved health outcomes for koalas and this funding has allowed KHH to implement new initiatives and projects.

One of the recent initiatives is the establishment of ‘’Koalavet’’ an online video forum for koala/wildlife vets across Australia where some of the key topics being covered are:

  • Criteria for triage
  • New approaches to the treatment of chlamydia disease
  • Approaches to the treatment of burns
  • Chlamydia testing and evaluation

Future Plans

The droughts, bushfires and floods of the last two years remind us that our wildlife continues to be significantly challenged by environmental changes and mass habitat reduction. There is still an enormous need for support for threatened species in particular and for building capacity, in volunteer numbers, training, wildlife treatment knowledge, wildlife research and identifying future rehabilitation facility requirements.

Everybody who has contributed to this project is playing an important role in the preservation and ongoing health and welfare of Australia’s very unique and special native animals. Thank you again for your support.

Links:

Apr 15, 2021

Platypus are one of the world's most unique animals and your support has helped save this one.

Rescued Platypus being released back to the wild
Rescued Platypus being released back to the wild

The platypus is one of the world’s most unique animals. Platypus live only in Australia and they are one of the few egg-laying mammals known as monotremes. 

These fascinating creatures have an extremely streamlined body and a bill that is covered with smooth, soft skin. The skin of the bill contains  specialised sensory receptors that enable them to navigate underwater. 

Our volunteers are out rescuing native animals every day and it is relatively rare that we receive calls to assist a platypus. Platypus are listed as a 'near threatened' species, making every single life saved and returned to the wild critical for the long-term survival of the species.

As a valued contributor to our project "Support Australian wildlife - Rescue to Release" we would like to share this special story and rare footage of a rescued platypus being released back to the wild. 

A couple of weeks ago a platypus had found its way into a water treatment plant and the concerned staff immediately called WIRES rescue line for assistance.

Everyone involved was relieved that there were no injuries detected and that after a few days of veterinarian observation at Taronga Wildlife Hospital to ensure all was well this little one was ready to go back to the wild. 

While the platypus was in care large parts of NSW were experiencing devastating floods and it was not until the flood waters had receded that the plans in place for his release could be actioned.

He made a splash back into the wild after being transported for release by a member of the WIRES Emergency Response team and is expected to thrive. We would like to share with you this special video of his release.

Ordinarily, on release a platypus would slide immediately into the water and swim away, but we were fortunate enough to witness a platypus returning to its natural environment and enjoy every moment, his activities on release were almost a thank you gift to all the hard work our volunteers do rescuing and caring for so many animals before their release.

Each and every rescue and release relies on the support of those who care about our unique wildlife. Your donation goes to ensuring we can reach more animals in distress and get them the help and care they need sooner, so on behalf of all the animals and WIRES volunteers, thank you.

Regular donations allow us to better plan for the future and allow us to direct more time and resources into our life-saving rescue and care services. Choosing to become a regular monthly donor to our project "Support Australian Wildlife - Rescue to Release" will provide ongoing life-saving help for all the animals we rescue.

Rescued Platypus back in the wild
Rescued Platypus back in the wild
 
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