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Community & Business

7 February, 2024

Animal carers plea for more volunteers to step forward

A SURGE in injured and dead wildlife has raised concerns for local animal carers, who have issued a plea for volunteers to step forward and help provide crucial care for sick animals.

By Ellie Fink

Agile Project carer Gemma Napier with two kangaroo joeys she cares for from her home.
Agile Project carer Gemma Napier with two kangaroo joeys she cares for from her home.

With many animals being left unattended to after being attacked by pets or hit by cars, The Agile Project founder Shai Ager is also urging the community to play an active role in protecting wildlife by reporting any injured or sick animals, stressing the importance of preserving and safeguarding the local wildlife.

The Agile Project has been rescuing and rehabilitating wildlife across the Far North for the past seven years, with a particular focus on macropods (kangaroos, wallabies and pademelons).

After seeing a lack of carers and call outs across the Tablelands, Shai and her team decided to move to the area to expand the project, hoping to save many more native animals. 

“I moved to Mareeba to start a wildlife sanctuary – another site to pre-release orphaned joeys and animals that have gone through rehabilitation,” she said. 

“I’ve been establishing the property with enclosures and resources over the past year and am happy to say it’s become a beautiful site that’s already helped release a number of animals.”

On average, The Agile Project receives 40 callouts a week, but volunteer and committee member Ailin Kocak believes it should be more. 

She said that despite an increase in callouts, many people still feel ashamed to call a wildlife carer, especially if they hit an animal with their cars. 

“Many locals do reach out and engage in our community activities, but there's room for growth,” Ailin said. 

“It's crucial to foster a mindset where calling a rescuer is the immediate response, preventing situations where animals are left to die. 

“The community's attitudes toward prompt reporting can make a substantial impact on wildlife outcomes.”

Besides car accidents, Shai and her team attend several dog attack incidents, where an animal is attacked or startled by dogs, injuring them or forcing them to drop their baby from the pouch. 

The recent cyclone and rain event has also caused an influx in native animal deaths, with the unnatural wind and flooding forcing them out of their habitats. 

The long emergency period saw the biggest call-out rate the business has ever seen, with more than 80 joeys being rescued.

“The flooding essentially meant wallabies and other wildlife were forced out of areas they usually reside in. I know that cyclones and floodings are part of the natural system, but what’s not natural is when wallabies that had their land taken over by suburban houses had nowhere to take shelter,” Shai said. 

“The gullies and last remaining habitat was flooded, so they were forced to withstand the wet conditions with very little shelter. I believe this is why we had so many deaths and sicknesses in the Northern Beaches and Whiterock suburbs of Cairns. 

“They got hypothermia, infections, bacterial diseases and other injuries that ultimately lead to their death.” 

To help keep up with call outs, Shai is calling all animal lovers to get involved. She will be hosting a Macropod Rescue Course on Saturday 24 February at the Jackaroo Motel in Mareeba for those interested in learning more. 

To get involved, visit www.theagileproject.com.au/join-us or email secretary@theagileproject.com.au 

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