This update was sent by email to members and supporters last April (2019) because of the unavailability of our blog. It is published retrospectively as part of the process of bringing our blog up-to-date.

Welcome to our belated March-April 2019 update and apologies for delay in getting our news out to you. It has been a very busy few weeks. Hopefully the next time we compile one of these updates we’ll be posting it on our rejuvenated blog! Now to bring you up to date with what’s coming up and what’s been happening.

Upcoming events:

OUR APRIL FIELD TRIP: Sunday April 28th will visit Turtle Rock on Hervey’s Range – “a rare and unusual Aboriginal cultural heritage site” with unusual rock formations. We will meet at 9am at top of the range at the intersection with Thornton Gap Rd (the road to the Heritage Tea Rooms) and drive in convoy to the Turtle Rock turn-off.

Directions: Please note the Alice River bridge is still closed so access to Hervey’s Range is via Black River Rd. Drive north on the Bruce Highway and take the 2nd turn on the left after crossing the Black River bridge. Trip time from the Bruce highway to the meeting place is approximately 25 min.

What to bring: WATER, hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, suitable footwear and snacks if required. If you intend to come please let us know!

NQCC MEMBERS’ NIGHT: Wednesday May 1st from 6pm. If you are a member of NQCC, or interested in becoming one, you are welcome to join others for a social evening at 114 Boundary Street, Railway Estate. There will be complementary wood-fired pizzas (cooked on site) and drinks available for a small donation.

Recent events: Thank you to all who turned up to our AGM on 31st March, and those who sent their apologies and proxies. No changes were made to our committee but others are always welcome at our meetings, if we can find a day that suits everyone and a venue that can handle more than 4 people (and clutter!).

National and Marine Parks – do they really belong to us?

The issue of increasing commercialisation of our protected areas doesn’t go away. We have again written to Ministers Kate Jones and Leeanne Enoch regarding proposed 30-year private leases for sections of our island/coastal national parks. A new issue arose with news of an application to close an area of public beach at Cape Hillsborough every morning to allow a tourism operator exclusive use to conduct commercial “wallaby tours” – no, not rugby union, this involves watching the wallabies that come down to the beach at dawn to feed on mangrove seedpods, seaweed and sand dollars. While investigating this proposal to make money out of watching wildlife in part of the GBR Coast Marine Park, we discovered that feeding the wallabies by the tour guides is also occurring, apparently with QPWS approval.

A Word document, “Cape Hillsborough letter” has been sent to members with further details and links and a copy of a draft letter for those wanting to send letters to QPWS: either about the daily beach closures or the feeding of wallabies. Closing date for comments is Tuesday 2nd May 2019.

Our flying foresters – no end to their troubles

Flying fox management has once again been absorbing our attention. Last week we contributed our comments to a review of the urban roost management framework which has been in operation since 2013. This was when then Premier Newman changed the legislation to give local councils, rather then the Dept of Environment, the right to decide how and what to do with roosts within their boundaries.

Both the concept and the framework for implementation were deeply flawed from the start and have led to some depressing outcomes with stress and trauma for the animals. Our hope is that the responsibility for the management of these wildlife species will be returned to where it belongs, namely the State Government. Or, if not, that the present system will be completely overhauled and the many weaknesses will be strengthened and loopholes closed.

Please help save the “Speccies” from harassment and extinction!

One shocking example of how a local authority can get this so completely wrong has recently emerged in Cairns. The Cairns Regional Council (CRC) has declared its intention to disperse a nationally important roost of the endangered, and rapidly disappearing, Spectacled flying-fox (Pteropus conspicillatus). “Speccies”, as they are affectionately known, are a keystone rainforest species which, unlike other flying- foxes, occurs only in north Queensland. This roost has been established for years in trees outside the city library in the CBD and has become quite a tourist attraction.

Tragically the Spectacled flying-fox population has been in dramatic decline over the last 2 decades and may now be at the point of free fall. In the November heatwave 23,000 animals died – the first time a mass heat-stress event has ever been recorded for this species, which usually finds protection in the humid conditions of the tropics and where temperatures have only rarely climbed into the dangerous 40s as they did last spring. These deaths amounted to a shocking 30% of the total population and, most shocking of all perhaps, it is now calculated that in the last 15 years a total of 80-85% of their entire population has been lost.

Given this situation it seems unthinkable that anyone could consider driving these beleaguered animals from such an important roost. The four expert members of the Council’s advisory panel, including the chair, Martin Cohen, have publicly dissociated themselves from the Council’s decision.

But there is a glimmer of hope. Because ‘Speccies’ are now a listed, endangered species, the Cairns Council is obliged, under the EPBC Act, to refer their plan to the Federal Government, which has now called for public comment. Will you help to stop this destructive action?

The more people who oppose the plan the better – so please click here for a draft letter to sign, or adapt to create your own personalised letter. Closing date is Tuesday 29th April 2019.

Lights, cameras, glider action

Our over-the-top wet season had an impact on our mahogany glider project in the first 3 months of the year. There were 2 trips in January to put up cameras but when the big rain hit it was impossible to get onto the site to check or retrieve them. After the rain eased, and the country dried out sufficiently, all cameras were retrieved and even the one closest to the creek, that was full of muddy water, was declared fit for action after some TLC. The January transects yielded more mahogany glider sightings and one last year ‘captured’ a feather-tailed glider so, along with the sugars, that’s three species of gliders on our project site, which still has 14 months to run.


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