Being a wildlife carer has given Jan Smith much satisfaction. It has also made her very concerned about the threats faced by native animals in the Redlands due to habitat loss.
Where can I let them go?
As a wildlife carer living in the beautiful Redlands area, I raised possums from tiny babies to release age. A question often of me asked was:
How can you let them go? It must be so hard.
Of course it’s hard, but our aim is to return these creatures back into the bush where they should be.
Wildlife carers take in orphaned baby animals, and rear them until they are old enough and big enough to live independently in the wild. We handle them only when they are young. At this time they need the food, comfort and love of a foster parent.
We then work to “dehumanise” them as they grow, until they do not recognize people as friends. As carers of koalas, birds, bats, possums, wallabies and other wildlife, that is what we are trained to do.
We also work with sick and injured wildlife, handling them just enough to get them through their illnesses or injuries. We then return them to where they came from, if this is possible.
In many cases the areas they have come from no longer exist. Progress has removed their bushland, trees and hollows. In these cases we do what we can to find a place near their original area. So I am more concerned about the question:
Where can I let them go?
With all the development in the Redlands, and the quarrying that supports development here and elsewhere, I ask you to put yourself in the place of a koala.
Imagine how you would feel, if you did escape the developers, the bulldozers and people mulching the trees that have been cut down. Picture a lone koala, returning to where its home used to be, finding only bare ground, only bits of trees and leaves lying on the ground. Imagine its feelings of loss, fear and confusion.
When I hear of the clearing and quarrying where a company ‘accidentally’ cleared hectares of koala habitat, I feel so sad. I wonder why people think that koalas don’t matter?
We have so few koalas left. Don’t people care that we are losing them at the rate we are? Doesn’t our wildlife matter? Why don’t we all try harder to conserve these wonderful animals for future generations?
I know there are many people out there who do care, who are trying desperately to save our wildlife, our bushland, our green spaces. But without the help and understanding of those in the City Council, State and Federal Governments, the prospects for survival of our native animals are very grim.
Saving these beautiful creatures from extinction will require more and more people to tell those in charge that this is something we must do.It may not be economically optimal or any other excuse that gets trotted out. But it is the right thing to do.
And while development is posing such a severe threat to wildlife numbers it becomes vitally important to save each single animal that is orphaned or injured. Think about becoming a wildlife carer, and join me in wondering: where can I let them go?
Jan Smith – 31 March 2015
Further information about being a wildlife carer
If you want to know more about wildlife care here are some links that may be helpful:
Information about rescue and rehabilitation of native wildlife provided by the Department of Environment and Heritage
Information about being a wildlife carer provided by Redland City Council
Information about Redlands 24 Hour Wildlife Rescue coordinated by Redland City Council