Fauna Relocation and Rehabilitation

KRMB February 2020

The guest speaker for our February meeting was Alison Dixon who is involved in fauna relocation and rehabilitation. Rather than deliver a standard type presentation to the audience, Alison spread out a number of photographs and other exhibits to show the diverse nature of the work she performs. Much of her work is involved with development proposals that involve the clearing of areas of native vegetation. She explained how she often has to request more site assessment time than the developer has allotted due to the need to check out each tree to find out whether any fauna are currently using it. It is not enough to simply walk the site; a cherry picker is generally required.

Alison showed a series of photographs of Western Ringtail Possums noting that clearing for development has had a large, adverse impact on this species. She told us that they are found in a wide range of vegetation complexes and are arboreal grazers. They have a lifespan of 4.2 years on average (compared to 7 years for the Brushtail Possum) with loss of teeth a limiting factor on their lifespan. Their adult weight is around 1 kg (Brushtail Possums are roughly double this weight). The Ringtail Possum does not use a tree hollow for nesting, but rather constructs a drey out of vegetation; one of Alison’s exhibits was a drey she had found. They are classified as critically endangered and Alison believes they should be treated with more respect, for example taking them into consideration when scheduling fuel reduction burns.

Many of the photographs that Alison had laid out were of birds that she had cared for and rehabilitated for release. There was a story behind almost every photo. These included Ospreys and Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos. She told us of how she rehabilitated an injured Osprey, not releasing it until she was satisfied that it could catch fish for itself. She stressed that the Black Cockatoos also need our help and that trees with nesting hollows should not be knocked down and that blocks with foraging trees should not be cleared. Her photos and exhibits created a lot of discussion. It was obvious to us all that Alison is very passionate about native fauna and this has resulted in her diligent approach to her work, especially in respect to rehabilitation.

Colin Prickett