Rescue, rehabilitate and release. We don’t often talk about that last word but it is the ultimate aim of wildlife rescuers – to release wildlife back to where they were rescued. In some cases, it is simply not possible to release wildlife where they were rescued, particularly when possums and macropods are found deceased with tiny live joeys in their pouch. Once these joeys are ready for release, which can be many months from when they were rescued, they need to be ‘soft’ released into suitable habitat where there is a resident population of the same species.
ANARRA (Australian Native Animals Rescue and Rehabilitation Association) is a volunteer-run community organisation that rescues and rehabilitates injured and orphaned wildlife in the Gympie and Wide Bay region. ANARRA is fortunate to have two portable pre-release pens, one for possums and another for macropods (kangaroos and wallabies). These portable pens can be transported to a site where there is suitable habitat for the species and where the animals can be monitored by the landholders, supplementary fed if needed, and released into the surrounding habitat where they can ultimately integrate with local macropods of the same species.
Our macropod release pen has been set up on Marc and Kerrianne Russell’s Land for Wildlife property at Wilson’s Pocket. The Russells have spent many years revegetating their property and restoring and conserving habitat for wildlife. The pen is on a site with established rainforest species on one side and open grasslands on the other. The Swamp Wallabies are drawn to the rainforest area, the Eastern Grey Kangaroos to the grasslands, and the Red-necked Wallabies are happy in either.
Three releases have taken place at this site. Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Swamp and Red-necked Wallabies from the first two releases are now out of the pen. They can mingle with the local macropods and they can also continue contact with the Russells, often returning to the pen around dusk for a catch up or following Marc and Kerrianne to the house yard. They often hop around Marc and Kerrianne when they go for walks, and over time, they seem to feel more secure and explore their surrounds further.
The third release of four Swamp Wallabies took place in February this year. Compared to other macropods, adult swampies are mostly solitary and are able to fend for themselves from a relatively early age. Lucy and Katie, international travellers volunteering with ANARRA, helped with the transport and release of the swampies, which they had been caring for up until their release.
It is a joy to see these animals released into the pen, watching them explore their temporary home, test out their incredible hopping speed, have an assortment of grasses to eat, and have the benefit of supplementary feeding if needed. The Russells enjoy their involvement in the program and the benefits that their property can provide for rescued wildlife, macropods in particular, as well as other species like possums and gliders. It is wonderful to see landholders provide this support for our wildlife.
ANARRA holds regular workshops throughout the year for those interested in wildlife rescue and care. For more information, visit ANARRA’s Facebook page or email [email protected]. If you live in the Gympie and Wide Bay region and find injured wildlife, please call ANARRA on 5484 9111.
Article and photos by Deb Seal