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No. 10
Not sure about you but I have been real busy recently. Flying up to the Pilbara last week, this week and next week - think snakes on a plane.

Mostly I go to Port Hedland but I have recently returned from my first landing at Ginbata, the airport servicing the Roy Hill mine site. I was there a year ago when the area was still being cleared to make the runway.

It’s no luxury airport, no bar or café but PH is hardly posh either. The new accommodation camp however is just superb for all the staff and contractors with a gym, pool and great food.

Flying direct to Ginbata from Perth saves a 115km drive from Newman or 277km from Port Hedland.

Ginbata airport Roy Hill mine WA
So here is a chance for all dolphin lovers and Perth based conservationists to get involved with these phenomenal mammals. I’ve signed up already – love the idea of the FinBook. BE QUICK RSVP by 21st March.

Please see attached information for how you can join the River Guardians Dolphin Watch program as a volunteer. There is a free training event on Wednesday 26th March at SciTech, West Perth.

RSVP by emailing or calling 08 9278 0900 by Friday 21 March 2014 (the flyer says 14th March but I have been informed they will accept an RSVP until the 21st).

Dolphin watch training flyer
This is just tragic. The wholesale and cruel slaughter of snakes for both fashion and food.

Just west of Bali in Java where we tourists lounge on beaches with a cold beer, is a snake abattoir and processing centre.

You take your snake whack it on the head, shove a hose into its mouth to make it swell up. Then tie it up so the water doesn’t escape (some countries use compressed air instead of water) nail it to a post then rip off the now inflated skin. At this stage the snake is probably still alive!!

The skin is then coiled and dried, the remains that go off to market for food may be still writhing.

Please Ark newsletter subscribers, don’t buy snake meat or snake skin products. I know people have got to make a living but really leave those snakes alone. It takes 12 snakes to make one bag – handbags never suited me anyway.

Snakes coiled for drying - Indonesia

Snake skin bag

Kerala is a coastal state in the South West of India, another of those places I would love to visit. I have visited Goa on the same western side of India but much further north. One hundred years ago Kerala had around 30,000 snake temples. Today less that 5,000 are thought to exist.

Fortunately snakes have a high status in Hindu mythology. Their worship primarily representing rebirth, death and mortality offers them protection. If a snake happened to be killed accidently it would as a sign of respect be burnt in a funeral pyre, as would a person. A snake (worshiped as a god) would never be deliberately killed. People knew they would never bite if not trodden on or handled.

Historically, nobody would go to snake temple areas except to leave offerings of flowers, milk or food. Occasionally in order to harvest rare Ayurvedic herbs (traditional medicine) they would enter and leave as quickly as possible and in daylight only. So the snakes and a whole ecosystem were effectively protected by these beliefs.

Times have changed however and demand for housing has meant that many such temples and protected lands have been cleared. Apparently a Hindu would never knowingly build on such protected lands so usually the land was sold to Muslims, Christians or others.

Snake worship photo credit
This is one of those images that has done the rounds - you may have seen it before, but I think it’s a great shot.

It was an Olive Python Liasis olivaceus very well camouflaged in this habitat. It struggled whilst trying to lift the kangaroo up onto the ledge for over an hour before giving up and letting its meal go.

Despite the pythons head being small it would have been able to eat such a large meal without much trouble.

Olive python (Liasis olivaceus) and roo karajini 2010 - 1 hour attempt failed
Albany was the first European settlement in WA founded in 1826. The Potoroo was recorded by naturalist John Gilbert in 1840 and considered extinct within 30 years. Wow white man arrives and annihilates everything pretty dam quick.

However, luckily for Gilbert’s Potoroo they were rediscovered in 1994 at Two Peoples Bay near Albany on our South Coast. Clinging on to existence in a hard to reach (by cats and foxes) location. It is estimated now that there are only 30 to 40 animals in the original wild population. An additional 40 to 50 in two translocated conservation colonies at Bald Island and Normans Beach. Seems like a rather fragile situation barely enduring as a species. These creatures are of course classified as Critically Endangered.

A typically nocturnal mammal emerges at dusk and remains active until dawn. Both male and female Potoroos weigh in at around 1kg and have a body length of about 35cm. Their diet is unusual and is believed to consist almost entirely of fungi. Research has found 44 species of fungal spores in their droppings! The species of fungi they consume are found both above (mushrooms, toadstools, puff-balls) and below the ground like truffles. So Potoroos will both aerate soil and distribute fungal spores. Insects and soft fleshy fruits are also consumed but the fungi predominate in their diet. Find out more at

Gilberts potoroo standing on its hind legs
Product update: Cable Clamp for securing snake bags. We have been trying these out for a while now.

A colleague snake catcher Niall has been using them daily for months, we think they are safer, more secure and more durable than cloth ties.

All our new bags and all new training courses will feature them. They cost less than $2.

We get them from Bunnings. Cable Clamp Model CCM0601 if you want to use them.

Cable clamp for snake bag
Upcoming Courses and Events
Snake Handling Course
DPaW approved for Reptile Relocator's Regulation 17 Licence
Friday 4 April 2014 - North Beach, Perth - FULL
Friday 2 May 2014 - North Beach, Perth
Friday 6 June 2014 - North Beach, Perth
Friday 4 July 2014 - North Beach, Perth
Friday 1 August 2014 - North Beach, Perth

Fauna Handling Course
Friday 11 April 2014 - NAR, Malaga, Perth
Friday 9 May 2014 - NAR, Malaga, Perth
Friday 3 June 2014 - NAR, Malaga, Perth
Friday 11 July 2014 - NAR, Malaga, Perth
Friday 8 August 2014 - NAR, Malaga, Perth

Public Events
Do come along and see us. Bring your family or friends as well.
The Animal Ark Roadshow will be attending the following events:

Saturday 5 April 2014
Animal Ark Roadshow
Altone Comes Alive!
Altone Park Leisure Centre, Beechboro
11am - 4pm

Thursday 24 April 2014
Animal Ark Roadshow
Seville Grove Library
1.30pm and 3pm
Contact the library to book

Wednesday 17 September 2014
Kulunga Katitijin Festival
Kings Park, Perth
Contact the Botanic Gardens Park Authority for more details

See our diary for more dates or contact us to book.

Call (08) 9243 3044 or email David or Jenny at to book.

Courses held monthly plus on-site and remote site training available.