Category Archives: 2. In the news

‘We didn’t deserve it’: Retirees donate savings to climate fight

Caroline and Terry Bellair.Caroline  and Terry Bellair downsized and tree changed. Like many Australians of their generation and class, they had money surplus to their needs. And they were at a stage of life where they were wondering what to do with it.

Last year, in a moment of catharsis, the Bellairs decided. They would donate $1 million to convert private property into nature reserves and help create habitat links for plants and animals to adapt to a changing climate.

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Cassowary mystery cracked: Nature gifts giant bird an inbuilt ‘airconditioner’

The cassowary makes a guttural rumble which is among the lowest frequency call of any bird.Since Western naturalists first encountered the cassowary, the elusive but deadly bird has been shrouded in mysteries. Chief among them: the purpose of the cassowary’s large, rudder-like crest, known as a “casque”.

Now a team of Melbourne-based scientists say they have cracked the case open – and their answer could also apply to a suite of dinosaurs with similar cranial structures.

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Satellites to reveal secrets of one of Australia’s great migrations

Long-finned eels inhabit the freshwater of the eastern Australia, from Cape York to Wilsons Promontory.

Victorian researchers may finally be on the brink of solving a great mystery of wild Australia. And it will take a combination of cutting edge technology and ancient knowledge to crack it.

Once in their life-time, freshwater eels head downstream, enter the ocean and swim thousands of kilometres to a tropical spawning ground. But no-one knows where.

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Why this 28-year-old scientist is devoting her life to roadkill

Scientist Emma Spencer, 28, is devoting her career to the study of roadkill and other carcasses - but says her work is 'mostly about life'.

If you have ever driven a country highway in Australia, you have seen roadkill. Did you ever stop to consider it?

Scientist Emma Spencer, 28, not only thinks about the carcasses that litter the bush and our roadsides, she’s devoting her career to researching them. And it turns out all those dead animals could either push our unique native species, like the enigmatic night parrot, towards extinction – or help bring them back from the brink.

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Rediscovered rock art reveals an ancient monster


On May 27, 2016, a park ranger entered a sandstone shelter and rediscovered four paintings of the mythical bunyip.

Since then the rediscovery has been kept secret. Only a handful of traditional owners, park rangers and archaeologists have been allowed to enter the cave. Even now, its exact location cannot be revealed.screen-shot-2017-02-22-at-9-33-42-pm

How smoked eel is at the heart of Australia’s next World Heritage bid

Indigenous ranger Aaron Morgan is among the new generation of Gunditjmara people caring for Budj Bim landscape and its network of ancient weirs and eel traps.

When Denis Rose was a young fella he caught eels in the freshwater that ran down the lava flow country from Mt Eccles to Bass Strait with his uncles and his dad.

These days he gets the young ones to go eeling for him.

“As I’m getting old my taste is changing a little bit … I particularly like smoked eel now,” he said.

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Australia’s ‘most important bird’ takes a step back from extinction

Four plains-wanderer chicks have been born in captivity in Victoria. Australia’s “most important bird” – and one whose conservation some scientists consider the most urgent of any  bird in the world – has just taken a significant step back from the brink of extinction.

The critically endangered plains-wanderer once roamed the grasslands surrounding Melbourne. So it is fitting that on these volcanic plains, for the first time in Victoria,  the bird has been bred in captivity.

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How fire could unlock suburbia’s ‘hidden treasure’ of wildflowers

Conservation field officer Andrew Foudoulis attributes regular, controlled burns with the return of rare native plants and reduction in the use of herbicides. Michael Slot was on his hands and knees in a suburban park in Melbourne’s north-eastern outskirts when he came across a plant he didn’t recognise. It was small, white and – as far as wildflowers go – relatively nondescript. Most people would not have heard of it and almost certainly never have seen it.screen-shot-2017-02-22-at-9-33-42-pm

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Dozens of animals and plants join Australia’s threatened species list

The Wollemi pine saw its status on the threatened species list downgraded from "endangered" to "critically endangered" due to the introduction of phytophthora disease into its secluded habitat. What do tingle pygmy trapdoor spiders from Western Australia, silver-headed antechinus from central Queensland and Duramana fingers orchids from NSW have in common?

If you’re waiting for a funny punchline, sorry – the answer is that they’re among the 41 new species of Australian plants and animals that are now officially at risk of extinction.

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Scientists, historians adder up clues to find truth about lost snake

One the world's deadliest snakes, the death adder is a master of subterfuge - it coils itself camouflages and lies in wait for prey which it entices with the wriggle of its distinctive, grub-like tail.For years snake enthusiasts have debated whether the fearsome death adder lived in Victoria before Europeans arrived and, if so, whether they are now extinct.

This week a team of researchers claimed to have definitively settled one half of that debate – and, in so doing, both opened a window into a lost era of the state’s natural history and raised fundamental questions about human-caused extinction.

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