Locals star in new video about threatened species

September 27, 2018

Locals star in a new video to help protect threatened species including cassowaries, northern bettongs and quolls.

Cairns’s Dr Sandra Abell and Alberto Vale are among six locals in “Explore the Secret Lives of the Region’s Endangered Species” – a project that has brought together the tourism industry, scientists, traditional owners and environmental groups.

Dr Abell describes the quirkier side of the endangered northern bettong – a tiny kangaroo which dines on truffle fungi but in drier times makes grass spitballs that help researchers track them.

“These animals are really important to the health of eco systems because they eat the fungi and move spores around which attach to the roots of plants and keep them healthy,’’ Dr Abell said.

“About 20 years ago we knew bettongs occurred in four populations just west of Cairns but we know they’ve since dropped out of two of those populations.”

Mr Vale talks about northern quolls and the importance of wildlife corridors for their survival.

Other Wet Tropics threatened species to feature are the Kuranda tree frog, southern cassowary, mahogany glider and Mabi forest, with their stories told by Atherton’s Alan Gillanders, Kuranda’s Cathy Retter, Mission Beach’s Leonard Andy and Kennedy’s Daryl Dickson.

The new video was funded by the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program through Terrain NRM and is the result of a partnership between Tourism Tropical North Queensland, the Wet Tropics Management Authority, Terrain and community groups.

It has been released in National Biodiversity Month – in a region that is home to half of Australia’s bird species, a third of its mammal species and 4000 plant species.

Wet Tropics Management Authority project officer Terry Carmichael said there were currently 139 threatened species in the Wet Tropics region and as changes to habitat and climate continued, it was important to plan how to protect them from extinction and find constructive ways to share the landscapes with them.

Terrain NRM’s Tony O’Malley said threatened species groups in the Wet Tropics were leading the way in working together to find solutions that balanced development and protection of endangered species.

“With the right planning, investment and resourcing we can make a difference,” he said.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland chair Wendy Morris said the richness of Tropical North Queensland’s flora and fauna was the key to its appeal as a tourism destination.

“We are blessed to have two world heritage areas right on our doorstep,’’ she said.

“Visitors come here to experience the abundance of wildlife on the reef and in our rainforests so it makes sense for us to help promote the amazing work of the many passionate conservationists, researchers, volunteers and community experts in our region.”

To see the video or a series of shorter videos, visit www.youtube.com/terrainnrm/videos