09/12/2014 - 09/12/2014 14 °C
On a trip to the East, we called into Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, and what a great few hours seeing, touching and learning about the native wild animals of Australia.
Bonorong is not a zoo, it is a Wildlife Sanctuary that aims to rehabilitate and release sick or injured wild animals. It is funded entirely by entrance fess to the park.
We joined a very informal tour that talked about each of the animals in the park:
Wombats are curious creatures. They seem like slow, dumpy animals, but they have a top speed of 40km/hr and a secret weapon in the bottom! Womabat’s product square poo! Nobody knows hows. But the real secret is the cartilage that covers most of their rear, and lower back. Womabt’s dig their burrows with the opening below a rock or tree trunk. When threatened, they retreat to their burrow, but leave their bottom sticking out! The attacker may try to bite and get hold of them, but will find this very difficult due to their robust bottoms! If the attacker continues, the wombat will lower themselves at the entrance. This will encourage the attacking animal to try and crawl over them. At this point the wombat will slam upwards, killing the attacker. They have been known the crush the scull of a dog in this manner!
The Tasmanian Devil is also an ungainly looking creature. However, they live up to this expectations, with the top speed of that of a running chicken! Because of this, and their poor eyesight, Devils’ are not hunters, they are scavengers. In the days before the Tasmanian Tiger was extinct, they lived on the leftovers of the tigers’ kills. However, nowadays, they are drawn to the easy picking of road kill, and because they are black, this makes them quite vulnerable. They are the worlds largest carnivorous marsupial extinct on the main land and wholly protected in Tasmania. However, since 1996, with the appearance of the Devil Facial Tumour, 80% of the population has been lost.
This is Burt. He, like most other Koalas has an incredible existing where 20 hours a day are spent sleeping, 3.5hrs are spent eating and only around 30mins a day are they active. This is largely due to their inability to digest and make the most of their diet. There are 600-700 types of eucalyptus trees in Australia, Koalas can only eat 11 of these. Once common in Eastern Australia, they are now severely reduced by hunting and loss of habitat and are a protected species.
Echidnas are one of only 5 species of monotremes (mammals that lay eggs) in the world, the platypus and 4 types of Echidna. Tasmanian Echidnas have denser fur and their spines are less obvious than that of the mainland Echidnas and hibernate from March to June. They can live up to 45 years.
Often mistaken for being an owl, the Tawny Frogmouth is actually more closely related to the nightjar. These birds are nocturnal and use their unusual appearance to camouflage in trees during the day. They can live up to 10 years.
Common in areas of south east Australia and are the only native lorikket species in Tasmania. Names for their sweet ‘musky’ smell, they are intelligent and social birds. They can live up to 25 years in captivity.
Native to some parts of Australia, the rainbow lorikeet was illegally released in Auckland in the 1990s. This dominant and prolific bird now poses a significant threat to the native wildlife. Evidence shows that rainbow lorikeets compete with native birds by dominating their food sources and nesting sites. They are capable of dislodging much larger birds than themselves. They may also carry avian diseases which can threaten the health of native bird species.
One of the most widespread of Australia’s parrots, they are sociable and often form flocks of several hundred. Feeding is often done on the ground in smaller groups and they can cause major damage to cultivated grain crops, and so they are considered a pest an licensed culling is permitted. They can live between 40-80 years in captivity.
Named for it’s distinctive call, it is the largest member of the kingfisher family. They are territorial and mate for life, looking after their chicks for up to 4 years.
The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo is probably Australia's best known parrot. These birds are often kept as pets, as they are extremely intelligent and are very good at learning to talk. Sulphur Crested Cockatoos have a reputation for being loud and noisy birds, but they are also know to be very sweet and affectionate companions if hand fed as babies. In general, these birds love attention and being handled. They can live for more than 70 years.
The Forester kangaroo is the largest marsupial in Tasmania and the second largest in the world -- males can reach over 60 kg and, when literally on tippy toes, stand 2 m tall! Colour varies from light brownish grey to grey. They have relatively large ears and differ from the other two species in having hair between the nostrils and upper lip. They often make clucking sounds between themselves and give a guttural cough when alarmed. The species is common on mainland Australia, where it is commonly known as the grey kangaroo. In many areas of the mainland, the clearing of bushland, creation of improved pasture and provision of farm dams has upset the natural balance in favour of increased macropod numbers. However, in Tasmania during the 1950s and 60s, the population of Forester kangaroos was reduced to 15% of its previous level. The Forester kangaroo is restricted to northeastern Tasmania and small areas in central Tasmania.
Mob of kangaroos!