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No. 39
At Animal Ark we are feeling a little like rock stars – well kind of. We are on the road a lot, travelling from gig to gig with our Snake Avoidance training.

Myself, Jenny and Ziggy have visited various locations in and around Bunbury, Denmark, Nannup, Balingup, Mundaring, Kalamunda, North Beach, Wungong and more.

Warmly welcomed everywhere and supported and encouraged by vets and wineries (a tough gig), land owners, cockies and even lawyers...

We're finding the demand huge but another day, another gig so to speak, so do contact us is you need 'the band' to deliver training where you live.

David Manning snake avoidance training for dogs in Nannup. Photo: Animal Ark
We have a lovely bit of video from Bunbury, click here to view on our Youtube channel.
A kelpie cross called Dimi seriously avoiding a snake in the grass.
A strange new species of spider has been discovered in China. Many animals use camouflage to both hide from predators and/or get closer to prey. Some spiders even look like bird droppings, flowers or twigs.

However this new type is particularly cunning with its legs pulled in tight and an elongated abdomen it closely resembles a leaf. Taking its cunning disguise one step further, on one side it looks like a fresh green leaf but turned around it looks like an older decaying leaf.

The crafty arachnid, a kind of orb-weaving spider, appears to dress its web with leaves and whether fresh or aging can turn itself around to blend in and remain hidden from view.

Dr Kunter of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences discovered the spider in China's Yunnan province. It was particularly hard to spot and had eluded scientists until his keen eyes took a closer look at the 'leaves' stuck to the web.

Leaf-mimicking spider. Photo: Matjaz Kunter,

Leaf spider. Photo: Matjaz Kunter,

Seems like ages ago when Jenny and I were in Zimbabwe. We got to visit and talk with a few conservationists when we were there including a scientific research charity called Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust (VFWT). for more.

Thanks to Roger Parry for taking time to show us around and to Ketch for the introduction.

VFWT - Sign. Photo: Animal Ark
Besides rescue, rehabilitation, vaccination programs and scientific study through their wildlife laboratory, the Trust manages many projects addressing wildlife and community issues.

For example human-wildlife conflict is a major problem for those communities that border wildlife areas. One of their programs employs locals to help protect local villages livestock such as cattle and goats from imminent attack by lions.

The community volunteers are trained, paid and each given a bicycle. When they get a text message that a lion may be close, they cycle around to alert the local farmers and help move the livestock out of harms way. In turn this protects the lions from being hunted and killed by the locals, for affecting their livelihoods by eating livestock. Win win as they say. A simple enough idea, that requires a relatively small amount of money to be operational and effective.

VFWT - New bicylcles for rangers on human wildlife conflict community program. Photo: Animal Ark
VFWT also have a few rescued animals that could not be released back into the wild. These wildlife ambassadors are well cared for and are utilized by the Trust for educational engagements with locals and tourists alike, raising awareness, and much needed funds for their work and research.

"Judge" the white backed vulture is one of the wildlife ambassadors. He eats offal and loves nothing more than stripping rubber trims from cars and windscreen wipers. Probably the same texture as guts and entrails - yum! Vulture populations are being decimated in Africa due to the increased use by commercial poachers of poisons and urban development. Judge meets, greets and spreads the conservation word.

Judge white-backed vulture, VFWT. Photo: Animal Ark
"Sylvester" the cheetah meets and greets as part of his daily routine at an upmarket tourist lodge. He was hand reared as the only survivor of 5 cubs whose mother was killed by a lion when they were just 2 days old. A game scout called Sylvester found and rescued the cubs.

There was no hope to train him to live wild, apparently cheetah require maternal care for the first 22 months of their life to survive in the wild. So Sylvester has become a semi tame educational animal, helping to raise funds, including for his own upkeep, and awareness through 'walk with a cheetah' and visits to game lodges just up the road from Victoria Falls.

VFWT - Sylvester the cheetah with his carer at Elephant Camp, Victoria Falls. Photo: Animal Ark
A tracking collar for a Rhino.

This huge and hefty collar has a 20kg counter weight just to keep the satellite-tracking device on top. To a rhino 20kg is like you and I lifting a feather – they just don't feel it apparently!

In some Zimbabwe parks to deter poachers the rhinos are painted with a number for aerial ID and their horns removed every 3 years.

During daylight hours many are accompanied by their own armed guards. One such guard waved our car down and took us on a private rhino walk to see these awesome (but de-horned) creatures in the wild near World's View in Matopo National Park.

After a hot 20 minute long walk through African tall grasses we finally saw our rhinos, a mum with a calf. After a while they got a bit agitated with us so we all separately eyed up the only tree in which to escape a charge by climbing.

As one guide told us previously "you only have to run faster than one person" if chased by a lion, elephant or rhino!

Rhino tracking collar, VFWT. Photo: Animal Ark

Wild rhino at Matopo National Park, Zimbabwe. Photo: Animal Ark

Christmas special. If ordered by phone (pay by credit card) I am offering all newsletter subscribers 20% off ANY snake proof gaiters, snake catching bag and ALL kits.

Includes free carriage to WA destinations.

So, including GST:

  • Snake Catching Bag - now ex carriage costs $132 (rrp $165)
  • Snake Handling Solo Kit - now ex carriage costs $444 (rrp $555)
  • Snake Handling Team Kit - now ex carriage costs $612 (rrp $765)
  • Fauna Handling Team Kit - now ex carriage costs $959.20 (rrp $1,199)
  • All gaiters both tan and camo, regular or large sizes - free carriage in WA cost $103.99 (rrp $130).

Offer ends 31 December 2016.

Fauna handling team kit in bag - available from Animal Ark
They are out and about now in numbers – I've collected a large dugite that was hiding in some rubbish on the new Collier Road interchange works, another smaller example in an Edgewater back garden and was called to a northern suburbs primary school to save two teachers sitting up on a table from a ..... well it was just a little Burtons legless lizard. But good for them as they were keeping an eye on it, which makes the efforts of any snake catchers a lot easier, and they weren't to know it wasn't a snake. Burtons legless lizard (Lialis burtonis). Photo: Matt Clancy, Wikimediacommons
Animal in Focus: Collie's Snake-Necked Turtle Chelodina colliei
Previously called the oblong turtle Chelodina oblonga taxonomists have renamed this endemic south-western WA specimen as a separate species, and Collies turtle it now is! The oblong is now considered to be the correct name only for the similar turtle found in northern WA, NT and QLD. Confusing taxonomic history!!

However, Collie's snake necked turtles may be spotted in permanent fresh waterways and even crossing roads in search of more permanent water as some lakes and swamps dry out. They are still common in Perth and are found widely around the south west of WA. They will travel some distance to find suitable nesting sites in which to lay eggs. They never look comfortable on land and lumber about swaying a bit from side to side with their long necks outstretched. In water they are agile, fast and highly effective predators, using the long neck to shoot out and reach prey through water plants without the bulky shell getting in the way. Adult turtles can weigh over 2kg and live up to 80 years.

With a shell length of up to 40cm this is an impressive turtle by any standards. They are predators and hunt and eat aquatic invertebrates, snails, tadpoles, fish, frogs and birds such as ducklings, but also preying surprisingly larger water birds as well.

A female digs a hole and buries up to 25 eggs that hatch many months later as their incubation period may be over 200 days long. The juveniles are tiny, hatching out about the size of 10cent coins and may weigh as little as 5 grams. The tiny turtles consume small aquatic insects like mosquito larvae, up to 70 a day, studies have shown. Let's hope our suburban wetlands can continue to support populations of these mozzie munching reptiles. Protection from feral animals such as cats and foxes is very important. Pollution from run off can also have a dramatic impact on their aquatic habitat. They are available as pets in WA but do require considerable space to thrive in captivity.

Baby Collies snake-necked turtle (Chelodina colliei), previously oblong turtle. Photo: Darren Darch, Fauna for the Future

Collies snake neck turtle (Chelodina colliei) in a town park, Denmark WA. Photo: AnimalArk

Collies snake neck turtle (Chelodina colliei) in a town park, Denmark WA. Photo: AnimalArk Oblong turtle in pond in Masons Gardens, Dalkeith WA. Photo: Zigzig20s, Wikimediacommons
Upcoming Courses and Events
Venomous Snake Handling Course
DPaW approved for Reptile Relocator's Regulation 17 Licence
Wednesday 14 December 2016 – Malaga, Perth
Friday 16 December 2016 – Malaga, Perth - FULL
Friday 13 January 2017 – Malaga, Perth
Friday 3 February 2017 – Malaga, Perth
Friday 17 March 2017 – Malaga, Perth
Friday 24 March 2017 – Malaga, Perth

Fauna Handling Course
Thursday 15 December 2016 – Malaga, Perth
Thursday 12 January 2017 – Malaga, Perth
Thursday 2 February 2017 – Malaga, Perth
Thursday 16 March 2017 – Malaga, Perth
Thursday 23 March 2017 – Malaga, Perth

Snake Avoidance Training for Dogs
Sunday 11 December 2016 – Mundaring, Perth Hills - FULL
Monday 12 December 2016 – Mundaring, Perth Hills
Saturday 17 December 2016 – North Beach, Perth
Monday 19 December 2016 – Toodyay, WA
Wednesday 21 December – North Dandalup, WA
Sunday 15 January 2017 – South of river, Samson
Week commencing 16 January 2017 - coming to Mt Barker, Manjimup, Busselton
Sunday 5 February 2017 – North Beach, Perth
Saturday 11 March 2017 – 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:

Sunday 26 March 2017
Ballajura Harmony Day
Community event

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

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

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