Fourth Crossing Wildlife

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Platypus, Lungfish and Catfish
author wishes to remain anonymous

Maybe you are the reader who will have the biggest influence on stopping habitat destruction and illegal activities that threaten the survival of our precious wildlife.

I think we all start in the care of wildlife and then go on to realize that it is all fairly pointless if there is no habitat to release them back in to.

Prior to Sunday the 28 September I have only ever seen the Mary River (in the Obi Obi Valley, Queensland) and its tributaries from the road or a park near the river.

On this Sunday, my brother invited us to share his experience of kayaking down a section of the Mary River. It was nothing like I expected, it was like a cross between a ride at Disneyland and that feeling of being in another world you get from snorkelling in the ocean.

Every section of the river was different and so interesting. We saw a tree that looked like a Lord of the Rings, Ent, running across a hill. We saw lungfish under our kayaks, just a little more than shadows. We saw catfish nests which were so extraordinary, the catfish had spent ages making perfect circles over a metre in diameter, on the river floor, by moving the sand and then finding the brightest coloured pebbles and somehow putting them in to the centre of the circles where they then were waited for a female to pick their nest on which to lay her eggs.

In the rainforesty sections we saw what we thought were floating bubbles only to get closer and see platypus swimming along the surface.

Another bend in the river would reveal large sections of the river that opened up wide, exposed, sunny and shallow, where property owners had removed all the vegetation down to the water edge and therefore all the places for the animals to live had also been removed.

The land near the river had fallen in to the water due to erosion, so the vegetation removal had not gained any land for the property owner it had actually resulted in less land due to the widened the river.

Another section had been mined for sand, resulting in a lot of erosion and redirection of the river out of the vegetation.

Then we would turn another bend to hear a very noisy pump and see a few dead fish. Attached to the end of the pipe were almost empty herbicide containers. So after hours of venturing down the river it becomes very, very in your face that mining, removal of vegetation and dodgy little things like home made floats are causing the death of the wildlife.

It unfortunately becomes easy to imagine that if left to continue the vulnerable animals in this river will soon be extinct.

The next weekend, my brother went for a short paddle up a tributary in to the Mary River with his wife. They were devastated to see the illegal fishing net left in the creek full of dead and live animals.

They removed what animals they could, that were still alive and then went to the police. They brought the platypus and net back to my house (because I have larger freezer) and we immediately rang a land for wildlife officer who does a lot of excellent work in this area.

We need:
• more education
• laws and fines
• acquisition of poorly cared for land (especially along waterways) by public organisations

It starts with you.... everybody can make a difference, everybody has the capability to help save our wonderful wildlife before they are gone forever and help conserve our unique habitat before it is destroyed for good.

If you see anything like this please report it immediately to your local wildlife authority.
Fourth Crossing Wildlife
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