Tuesday, 24 July 2018

It's winter: the crippling drought in eastern Australia

It's winter in Australia and yet this is happening.
I cannot forgive the NZ media that is totally ignoring this huge story from our nearest neighbour.

Silence of the lambs: NSW farmer to shoot starving flock because he can’t afford to feed them

22 July, 2018

FARMER Les Jones will this month shoot all 1200 of his starving sheep and bury them in a mass grave on his barren farm in northwestern NSW.
The sheep are living skeletons, so emaciated the Jones family can’t even use them to feed themselves “unless we ate soup every day”.
The cattle are so hungry they are scraping dried moss off rocks with their teeth and chasing stray leaves that blow off trees.
Farmer Les Jones on his property at Goolhi, west of Gunnedah, where he will have to kill his sheep because he can’t afford to feed them. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

At Goolhi, west of Gunnedah, the Joneses are in an impossible situation. Even if they could find an abattoir wiling to buy their livestock, which is highly unlikely, the sheep are too gaunt to legally put on a truck.
But they’ve run out of money to buy increasingly scarce hay and increasingly expensive grain.
Currently, 10 sheep a day die from starvation on the 670ha property, so the most humane option is to shoot them all.
We own an old dozer and the husband is finding somewhere on the farm to dig a big hole and push them in,” Les’s wife Laura said.
We don’t have any choice but to shoot them. We’ve tried our utmost to keep them alive, but how can we?”
 
Farmer Les Jones’ daughter Lillie, 15, holding one of the sheep. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

 
One of the starved sheep on Les Jones’ farm in Goolhi. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
Visitors are warned not to accept a cup of tea from Mrs Jones because the remaining 60cm of drinking water in the family’s rainwater tank is infused with the whiff of mosquito larvae and dead mice.
Each night Les, Laura and daughter Lillie take turns to have a bath in the same water, which turns black before it’s emptied.
The farming family rations its bottled water, which is all they have to drink.
All 12 dams on the property are either dry or contain just a few centimetres of brown water, which they’ve had to fence off because sheep were getting stuck and dying in the muddy banks. There isn’t any nutritious pasture left on the property — just red dirt and tufts of razor grass, which the livestock won’t eat because it cuts their mouths.
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Claire Cooney and her husband Len have had an influx of orphan lambs on their 


The drought is taking its toll on Lillie, 15, the couple’s only child, who doesn’t want to leave her home behind but understands her parents have no choice but to sell up.
I’m going to lose my home one day soon, which upsets me because I love it here,” Lillie said.
But there’s no feed, no water and when the last dam dries up we won’t have any choice but to leave.”
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Lillie has spent every day of school holidays helping her dad, which means dragging dead sheep out of paddocks.
Lillie’s parents constantly worry about her. They describe her as “utterly heartbroken”.
Les Jones “doesn’t have a clue” what he’ll do when he shuts the gate for the last time on the farm he’s lived on for 60 years.
I don’t read and write too good and I’ve been on the land all my life,” he said. The current drought is the worst he’s ever endured and while the constant death and devastation is “f … king hard”, it will be harder still to leave.
In an ordinary year, the property is highly productive and can sustain 1500 merino sheep or 500 angus cattle.
The farm has been up for sale since 2014 and is valued at $1.5 million on paper, even though there’s currently not a single blade of green grass and it’s impossible to make any money off it.
 
How to help our drought-stricken farmers.

The Jones’ neighbours are no better off and have listed their properties for sale as well. The family would have been forced off the land sooner, if it had not been for the generosity of Australia’s largest farming charity Aussie Helpers and founder Brian Egan.
In just three hours in a car with Mr Egan yesterday, as reception faded in and out, The Sunday Telegraph watched the text messages and emails constantly come in. They ranged from straightforward requests for assistance to gruff-sounding farmers admitting they don’t have mental fortitude “to keep burying cows every day”.
Mr Egan will today visit an elderly farming family in Gilgandra near Dubbo who are shearing wool off dead sheep because they need the $80 they can make from each fleece.
Aussie Helpers currently supports more than 150 farming families with groceries and livestock feed at a cost of more than $100,000 a month without government funding.
Mr Egan backed The Sunday Telegraph’s campaign for state and federal governments to reinstate freight subsidies for fodder and water, bring back drought declarations, and make it easier for farming families to access modest welfare payments.
'It breaks my heart': Record numbers of kangaroos and wombats being killed by cars as drought forces them into built-up areas in search for food
  • Australian Capital Territory has the most Kangaroos involved in a road-crash
  • Very low rainfall and dipping temperatures is pushing animals to suburban areas
  • Officials have already recorded 2291 incidents of kangaroos in a road crash
  • Kangaroos, wallabies and wombats top the list of most killed animals on road

23 July, 2018

Drought conditions afflicting eastern Australia is causing record numbers of native animals to be struck and killed by vehicles. 

Dipping temperatures and 'very much below average' June rainfall cited by the Bureau of Meteorology, means animals are forced to roam further in the search for food, bringing them into contact with built-up areas and roads. 
The Australian Capital Territory's environment directorate says a record number of road crashes involving kangaroos and wombats have been reported in the period since March and 2018 is expected to be a record for roadkill.
"It's almost like the perfect storm for doing it hard if you're a kangaroo," Daniel Iglesias, head of the ACT's Parks and Conservation department, told the Canberra Times.

Very low rainfall and dipping temperatures is pushing animals to suburban areas in parts of Eastern Australia, causing more road accidents involving Kangaroos and wombats
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Very low rainfall and dipping temperatures is pushing animals to suburban areas in parts of Eastern Australia, causing more road accidents involving Kangaroos and wombats
The directorate's spokesperson said kangaroo-related collisions usually spike in July and August every year but 2018's dry winter is breaking all previous records.
'In 2016 we recorded 2889 incidents and in 2017 it was 2634 but this year we have only reached July and we have already recorded 2291 incidents of kangaroos being involved in a road crash,' he said. 
'Kangaroos are struggling to find food because of the dry season which forces them to move around and come on to the roads.'
Bureau of Meteorology recorded just 69.6 millimetres of rain fall between March and June in Canberra which is the lowest for that period since 25 millimetres in 2004, which came to be known as millennium drought.
Kangaroos, wallabies and wombats are on top of the list of most animals killed on road
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Kangaroos, wallabies and wombats are on top of the list of most animals killed on road
Yolandi Vermaak, founder of Wombat Rescue, has come across about hundred dead wombats on rural NSW roads.
She said she is fed up of how often the innocent marsupials are run over on country roads.  
'It’s so much worse in winter because they just freeze to death. The only chance the little ones have is if they’re discovered in time,' she told Australian Geographic

'These are healthy wombats being killed, not one’s with mange or anything like that. And the rate that they’re being run over is unsustainable.'
Ms Vermaak's children accompany her as camera operators on rescue missions.
Australian Capital Territory has been ranked on top twice for most Kangaroos involved in a road-crash
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Australian Capital Territory has been ranked on top twice for most Kangaroos involved in a road-crash
'It breaks my heart because my daughter always says "Mum, we missed that road" or "we haven’t been down there", but it’s impossible for us to cover every road. Whenever we turn right, we’re anxious we’ve missed one on the left.'
In one of their rescue missions on July 15, Wombat Rescue workers found a 'dead wombat every few kilometres, still warm under its armpits.'  
ACT's environment directorate spokesperson said most number of crashes occurred during morning and evening hours of winters, when there are more commuters on the road.
Wombats and wallabies are the other animals involved in road accidents in Australia after kangaroos
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Wombats and wallabies are the other animals involved in road accidents in Australia after kangaroos
In 2015, RACV released their crash numbers which revealed most car insurance claims had been caused by kangaroos followed by wombats.
In its 2018 report, Australian Associated Motors Insurers crowned Canbarra as Australia’s animal collision capital for the second year in a row. 
According to their latest data, motorists are most likely to collide with a kangaroo (81 per cent), wallaby (5 per cent) or wombat (3 per cent) – although collisions also occurred with dogs, emus, foxes, cows and one turkey. 
The report identified Canberra (ACT), Goulburn (NSW), Sunbury (VIC), Cooma (NSW) and Dubbo (NSW) as the top hotspots for animal collision



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