WIRES: Weaving a World of Love for Australian Wildlife - P1/2    
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Good-hearted viewers, welcome to Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants. Today’s show is the first in a two-part program featuring our exciting journey to the state of New South Wales in southeastern Australia, where we'll meet some passionate wildlife caregivers from the Northern Rivers branch of the New South Wales Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES).

WIRES is the largest wild animal rescue network in Australia. Founded in 1985, the group’s mission is to rehabilitate and preserve Australian wildlife, while informing and inspiring others to do the same. In 2009 alone, WIRES rescued more than 75,000 animals, 3,000 of whom were members of threatened species found across this magnificent state.

WIRES is a statewide organization; it’s got 29 branches in all of New South Wales. Our branch has only been going for five years in the Northern Rivers, and it came about because people were anxious about caring for wildlife, obviously. All we do is talk to people about wildlife and also rescue and rehabilitate wildlife.

Today, WIRES has more than 2,000 volunteer wildlife carers throughout New South Wales, who are trained to rescue, rehabilitate and release animals.

Anyone who’s interested in becoming a wildlife carer attends a two-day course, and becomes a member of our local branch and our branch has about 180 members at the moment, and those members are scattered all over the Northern Rivers which is quite a big area. They care for animals in their own home or on their property, or they can just rescue animals. And some people aren’t involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of animals, but are involved in the administration of the organization in other ways, such as staffing the 24-hour hotline and other supportive work like that.

Through a well-established network of dedicated volunteers, WIRES provides emergency services to our animal friends all across the state. How do WIRES members keep connected?

What happens is we’ve got a 24-hour rescue hotline, where members of the public obviously can call into this hotline. The person on the other end of the phone will then take all the details, what’s their name and address, and where has the animal actually been injured, their phone number, what is the species of animal that’s been injured. They then have a list of all members that are available to go out and do rescues.

The animal is then picked up by the rescuer, or the member of the public may deliver her to the person that’s close, and then they will assess her, and then they will ring the coordinator. Now I’m the coordinator for all the kangaroos and wallabies in this area, so I’ll get a call at any time, day or night. I’ll then ask questions, obviously, “What’s happened?” And I will then get hold of the closest person, that can actually take that animal in.

We cover an area in excess of 8,000 square kilometers. We have a network of people that then pick up, assess, and bring her to the next person, and we get her back in to the carer that’s actually going to look after her, usually within about six or seven hours, if she’s even from a big distance; if she’s close by, it’s within an hour that they’re brought in.

What are some of the species most commonly rehabilitated by WIRES?

About 80 % of all our rescues in WIRES are birds, so that’s a huge part of our workload.

I am the bird coordinator in WIRES Northern Rivers, so I do a lot of rescues, and also coordinating where birds go, who tries to buddy up birds of the same species with others.

We’ve got the Grey-headed Flying Fox, and they are listed as vulnerable on the threatened species list, because their population is gradually decreasing. And also several species of microbats; they are listed as vulnerable to extinction as well. It’s not just bats, but other species of animals that we have here in the Northern Rivers are on the threatened species list, and so when we have any of those that come into care, we treat them with special concern, of course.

Reptiles, we have snakes and we have lizards. Now the snakes are mainly Coastal Carpet Pythons, they are non-venomous.

We’ve got quite a few lizards, such as the Bearded Dragon, the Water Dragon, Blue-tongued Lizard, lots of gardens have those, quite commonly.

A Blue-tongue Lizard has become hurt and Michael McGrath, the reptile coordinator for WIRES Northern Rivers is looking after our recovering friend. Let’s now hear the lizard’s story.

This lizard we got from one of our local vets, a member of the public had taken her in there, noticed something wrong with her, the vets weren’t really sure what’s happened to her, but she appeared to have sustained some kind of head injury. So yes, she’s got some problems in her eyes, and she’s going through a course of drugs at the moment, that hopefully helps that out a bit, but she doesn’t appear to be in too bad a condition.

The main thing really that’s threatening reptiles, that causes most of the conflict is increased urban development, more houses being built, land being cleared and it’s just pushing the snakes and lizards out. Some lizards and snakes are very adaptable, like the Blue- tongue (lizard), Carpet Python, happily live in suburbia, but others they don’t adapt to it.

Here is a Water Dragon who has rested nicely under the protection and love of WIRES.

He was rescued from the University, where someone had noticed him and thought, “Well this doesn’t look right.” And obviously it doesn’t but, this lizard is actually going to be released like this. He’s okay, he’s probably lost his tail, who knows how, and then his tail’s re-grown, but then grown at a funny angle. So yes! He’s a lucky one.

We’ll be back shortly to meet some of the other wildlife cared for by WIRES volunteers. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television.

Welcome back to today’s Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants, featuring a profile of the New South Wales Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES), the largest wild animal rescue organization in Australia. In terms of numbers saved by the group annually, gliders are among the top five animals.

These cute, small marsupials live in shrubs and trees. They get their name because they can “glide” in the air between trees. A Yellow-bellied Glider can glide more than 100 meters at a time! Gliders along with possums and flying foxes, a type of Old World fruit bat, are humble, diligent beings that are active at night and whose movements about their habitat help to sustain certain plants.

Something that’s very interesting about these animals is that there are certain kinds of rainforest plants that can only be pollinated by the nocturnal animals such as the flying foxes and the gliders because the flowers are only receptive to being pollinated at night. And so birds and bees which are not active at night can’t do the job of pollination.

It’s only things such as possums, gliders and the flying foxes that do the pollination. And it’s something that a lot of people don’t understand, that these animals are very important for our environment for that reason.

Bats are the only flying mammals on our planet and flying foxes may travel as far as 50 kilometers in a night to forage for fruit, blossoms, and leaves. They have an amazing wingspan of 1.8 meters and weigh approximately one kilogram.

They’re very affectionate to raise, very, very affectionate. And then it’s about this stage when you start putting them together with the others of their group that they learn how to be bats. Raising them can be really rewarding to form a bond with them and to love them and cuddle them, and care for them and they reciprocate and they’re very, very intelligent, very intelligent. They’re like dogs or cats; they love a scratch like this.

See, look, the eyes are closed in bliss, “Oh, yes, yes.” (I like that.) “I’m enjoying that.” They really love it. And they groom each other. And they’re like cats in that they’re very, very clean. They keep themselves very clean. And, they lick themselves to keep themselves nice. There we go. Turn around. Let everybody see how beautiful you are.

Deforestation and exploitation of pristine forestland are endangering precious animals like the flying fox.

Habitat loss is the main thing, and where animals come into conflict or contact with humans. Wherever humans live, habitat loss occurs, and so the loss of things like hollows in trees where birds have traditionally nested, roosting trees for bats, and some people are just not at all understanding of how important flying foxes are for the environment, for seed dispersal and regeneration of our forests.

Without the flying foxes we wouldn’t have any forests. And so, yes, they’re really important and with the habitat loss, the planting of trees is absolutely critical, and understanding the place of these animals in the ecosystem is very important for people to be able to do.

When injured wildlife are found, what’s the best way to tend to them before we get them to wildlife caregivers?

The most important thing is to de-stress her as much as possible; for example, for birds, throw a towel over her, and if you’ve got a cardboard box ready that would be really good. Just pick her up to minimize feather damage with the towel, put her in the box, keep her covered in a warm, dark, quiet place and give her a chance to recover. Continued handling of them only stresses animals. Animals get very, very easily stressed and can just drop dead from stress. So keep her covered, give her a chance for her to settle down.

Sometimes, for example, if a bird bounces off a window, she just needs a little bit of time to recover; she might have a mild concussion, and can be released after a short period of time. And she doesn’t need any further intervention. If she hasn’t recovered then seek some further information and further advice from a wildlife care group if you have one.

Our gratitude Lib Ruytenberg, Sue Ulyatt, Melanie Barsony, Michael McGrath and all other WIRES volunteers for closely looking after the splendid wild animals of New South Wales. Wonderful viewers, please join us again tomorrow on Animal World: Our Co-Inhabitants as we continue our exciting interviews with members of New South Wales Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service, as they introduce us to more extraordinary Australian wildlife.

For more details on WIRES Northern Rivers, please visit
The main WIRES website can be accessed at

Thank you for your company on today’s show. Coming up next is Enlightening Entertainment after Noteworthy News. May our unique, Earthly home be preserved and treasured for the sake of all its precious inhabitants.
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