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No. 31
It’s been warm hasn’t it? Once again thanks for receiving and hopefully reading some of this newsletter before you hit the delete button. If you fancy coming along to Native Animal Rescue (NAR) in Malaga this month to see some really cool snakes keep reading - we even have air con working now so it’s cool inside as well.

I have always been interested in training animals and have worked with trained animals most of my life, mostly for film and TV rather than the more worthy cause of conservation – a few items below including a world first in Queensland are about just what animals can do and how trained ones can help us all… I sure do envy the trainers doing such a good job.

Hot dog on ice. Photo: Facebook
Wow, this item is rather horrible for the intended prey but a hugely fascinating type of avian behaviour. On the Moroccan Island of Mogador falcons have been observed catching live birds and then stashing them in rock crevices so they can be eaten ‘fresh’ later on.

The Eleonora’s falcon (Falco eleonorae) mutilate the birds as well by tearing off flight feather to further immobilise them. They were observed doing this just before their chicks hatched, maybe ensuring they have some extra fresh food for their young.

Some falcons are already known to store or 'larder' dead prey, but Professor Abdeljebbar Qninba of Mohammed V de Rabat University said, "this (live stashing) behaviour has never been reported before".

Eleonora’s falcon breeds on Mediterranean islands particularly off Greece but also in countries like Spain, Italy, Morocco and Algeria. Raptors like eagles and hawks often use seemingly brutal methods to secure a meal – flying high and then dropping prey such as tortoises or snakes onto rocks to kill them and even dragging goats off cliff edges.

Common whitethroat (Sylvia communis) immobilized in deep small hole - Mogador Island, Morocco. Photo Abdeljebbar Qninba
Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis) immobilized in a deep and very small hole, Mogador Island, Morocco, September 2014 (Abdeljebbar Qninba).

Eleonoras Falcon (Falco eleonorae). Photo: Jurgen Dietrich, Wikimedia Commons

Dutch police are considering using specially trained Bald Eagles to bring down rogue drones.

Unauthorised drones can be a safety hazard for crowds, ambulance helicopters and aircraft. When drones are a deemed problem the solution is often to use other drones that shoot nets to bring down the threat.

However, this is an innovative approach by the Dutch National Police in the Netherlands. The birds just swoop in and grab the drones before bringing them to the ground.

More at

Dutch police train eagles to take down drones. Photo: ABC News
Australia’s history with invasive species is a sad one with repeated failure to eradicate any pest being the norm. However dogs are changing this and Willow is just one of a team of crack ant sniffers specifically trained to hunt the invasive Fire ants.

Originally found in South America, the Fire ants can cause devastating impact on native species with Queensland predicting declines of 45% of birds, 38% of mammals, 69% of reptiles and 95% of frogs.

Fire ant colonies are huge and vast numbers of ants can swarm and attack when disturbed. They bite (to hold on) then sting, and the venom can cause intense pain and sometimes anaphylactic shock.

They affect people, pets and livestock and cause great impact on agriculture. Each ant species has its own particular pheromone and dogs can be trained to smell and target just one species rather than just any ant out there.

Willow and a team of 8 other trained dogs are part of the National Red Imported Fire Ants Eradication Program and as a result Gladstone in Queensland is now nearly rid of all Fire ants.

Once Gladstone is cleared, their work will continue down in Brisbane – trained dogs I truly think are an underutilised weapon against invasive pests and could potentially be trained to track down many, many other pests when government finds the funding.


Willow, Biosecurity Queensland labrador. Photo: ABC / Jess Lodge

Fire ants on a 10 cent piece. Photo: Biosecurity Queensland

QUICK SALE ON NOW- All subscribers can get 15% off any hooks, tongs, catching bags, gaiters, first aid kits or kit bags until 1 March 2016. Excludes shipping.

Phone orders only – just call and pay by credit card or bank transfer. Same day dispatch is our target otherwise usually within 24hrs.

Alternatively, pickup can be arranged from our Malaga office. Carriage FREE country wide on orders over $500.

Animal Ark Snake/Fauna Handling Kit Bag
Some 188 snakes slither around Australia and we have some of the largest and smallest known species. Most of us can name only a few but we do have some of the world’s most amazing serpents. HOW TO FIND OUT MORE?

Come along to NAR on Thursday 25 February at 6pm to learn about some of the worlds 3,000 snakes. I am presenting a 45minute talk titled "Snakes" – also get to meet a range of friendly pythons and see some deadly snakes as well.

A $15 door fee is payable to help support NAR wildlife rehabilitation, $10 for NAR members, and $5 for NAR volunteers.

Hog nosed snake (US). Photo Animal Ark
The belief in Asia, particularly Vietnam, that rhino horn cures cancer has led to the massive reduction in numbers of all 5 species worldwide. Of the 2 African species some 1,215 were slaughtered in just 2014 alone. It’s an understatement to say their situation is dire.

In Kenya alone Rhino numbers dropped from 200,000 to around 200, now they have recovered a bit back up to the 600 odd mark but poachers are still out there and the horn more valuable than ever. So what can be done to protect them from extinction?

Rhino, Botswana. Photo: David Manning, Animal Ark

High up Mount Kenya the Lewa and Borana Wildlife Conservancies covering some 375sq km are using an ex SAS instructor who has trained snipers to eradicate the real problem - the "poachers". Yes they shoot dead the would-be Rhino hunters.

So far the 4-men teams have eradicated 19 poachers and lost just one of the 102 Rhino in the reserves. A few years before they re-thought their strategies and trained the snipers they lost 20% of their rhinos in a single season.

More at

THE BUSH FLY (Musca vetustissima)
William Dampier a privateer wrote of flies in 1688 "they being so troublesome here that no fanning will keep them from coming to ones face and without the assistance of both hands to keep them off they will creep into one’s nostrils and mouth too if the lips are not shut very close" - couldn’t put it better myself.

We all know this irritating pest; it’s capable of spreading many pathogens including both salmonella and shigella bacteria (both cause the dreaded gastro) especially in agricultural areas. The Bush flies don’t bite, but crawl around any open wound as well as our faces; they enter mouths and nostrils and have us waving away to keep them off. They are drawn to the moisture and protein therein; it’s really the females seeking the protein to help with their fertility and the males that follow seeking the females, apparently (someone has studied this) at a ratio of about 3 females to every male. Usually rather than your face the Bush flies prefer lovely fresh protein rich mammalian dung hence the capacity to spread disease.

Numbers have expanded hugely since the white settlement, as we brought bigger animals like cows, horses and pigs with us that have bigger poohs – the flies must have celebrated our arrival on the continent as previously they had only Kangaroo faeces and the like that were A. smaller and B. dried up quickly. Witsen in his account of a Dutch expeditionary visit to Western Australia in 1696 wrote: "millions of flies, very much troubling the men". With the arrival of cattle those millions soon became many billions.

In subtropical Australia they breed continuously, they repopulate many areas in Australia and Tasmania through migration and many thousands are borne on winds carrying them far and wide. When conditions are favourable (spring) they seek fresh dung to lay their eggs - the larvae (maggots) feed on this and thus renew the lifecycle. Apparently a moist but not sloppy cowpat is the ideal environment for the developing young. Numerous species of dung beetle have been introduced to Australia to help bury the available dung and deprive the Bush flies of its favoured real estate.

Australia is home to many species of fly but the Australian Bush fly is probably the most annoying of them all.

Bush fly. Photo CSIRO

Flies on back. Photo Animal Ark

Upcoming Courses and Events
Venomous Snake Handling Course
DPaW approved for Reptile Relocator's Regulation 17 Licence
Thursday 25 February 2016 - Tamala Park, Corporate Booking - FULL
Sunday 28 February 2016 - Malaga, Perth
Friday 4 March 2016 - Malaga, Perth - FULL
Friday 11 March 2016 - Malaga, Perth
Friday 1 April 2016 - Malaga, Perth
Saturday 23 April 2016 - Malaga, Perth
Friday 6 May 2016 - Malaga, Perth
Friday 3 June 2016 - Malaga, Perth

Fauna Handling Course
Thursday 3 March 2016 - Malaga, Perth - FULL
Thursday 31 March 2016 - Malaga, Perth
Thursday 5 May 2016 - Malaga, Perth
Thursday 2 June 2016 - Malaga, Perth

Snake Avoidance Training for Dogs
Saturday 13 February 2016 - North Beach, Perth
Saturday 20 February 2016 - Bunbury
Saturday 2 April 2016 - North Beach, Perth
Saturday 7 May 2016 - North Beach, Perth
Saturday 11 June 2016 - North Beach, 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:

Thursday 25 February 2016
"Snakes" talk by David Manning of Animal Ark
Native Animal Rescue (NAR), 170 Camboon Road, Malaga 6090
6pm to 6.45pm
$15 public, $10 NAR members, $5 NAR volunteers

Sunday 13 March 2016
Ballajura Harmony Day
Karijini Oval (next to South Ballajura Primary Campus), Ballajura
12noon – 4pm
Free community event – contact City of Swan for more information

Saturday 19 March 2016
Altone Comes Alive!
Altone Park Oval, Benara Road, Beechboro
11am – 4pm
Free community event – contact City of Swan for more information

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

Call (08) 9243 3044, SMS 0466 688 188 or email David or Jenny at to book.

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