Falls Creek conservationist: kangaroos need our help

Belinda Gales at her Falls Creek home and animal refuge with a kangaroo on Wednesday. Picture: Rebecca Fist
Belinda Gales at her Falls Creek home and animal refuge with a kangaroo on Wednesday. Picture: Rebecca Fist

Community members are invited to watch Kangaroo, A Love-Hate Story, which screens at Tomerong Hall on Friday, July 20 at 7pm.

For a gold coin donation, you can watch the controversial film taking the US and Europe by storm.

Falls Creek animal refuge co-owner Belinda Gales hopes public screenings will lead to greater awareness about conservation.

“It’s an eye-opener about red kangaroos and greys, which we do have around here, about the impact culling and killing them for the international market has,” Belinda said.

“People overseas are shocked by the amount of culling that goes on.”

Kangaroo culling is a divisive topic in Australia.

“Not all Australians feel the same way I do about kangaroos,” Belinda said.

“There’s a huge rivalry between conservationists and farmers and landholders.

“They’re concerned about the damage these guys do to fences, competition for crops, but a lot of research I’ve read is they don’t eat the same grass, or parts of grass, as livestock.

“We’ve put a lot of livestock on the same territory these grazing roos need, and as their habitat disappears, they push into more rural areas where there is competition for food.”

Road incidents resulting in injury or death to roos have increased significantly in recent years.

Belinda attributes this to urban sprawl, rather than an increase in kangaroo populations.

“As development spreads there’s not as much habitat and the animals need to get around,” she said.

“It’s a great risk for drivers and the number of roos we lose is just incredible.”

Belinda said most people don’t know kangaroos are a slow-reproducing species.

“Each mother can produce up to 10 joeys in her lifespan, but only one or two will survive,” she said.

“Because people see a mob of a hundred, they think they’re going to multiply into a thousand in no time. But most joeys aren’t going to make it past their first year. They are taken by predators, they are very vulnerable to disease. There’s a high death rate, that’s without the human impact.

“That’s why conservation is so important.”

Along with the kangaroos she is rehabilitating at the animal refuge, there is a decent-sized mob of eastern grey kangaroos on her 70-acre property.

“I’ve been working with marsupials for about 20 years, I’ve had a great deal to do with this species,” Belinda said.

“Most of them have adorable traits, they’re such beautiful, sensitive creatures.

“The Eastern greys around the Shoalhaven are a tourism draw card, because people living in cities don’t get to see them anymore.

“The fact we still have them in coastal areas is just wonderful.”

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