Unique Fur Coloring of Mission Beach Wallabies

As I get more settled into life in Mission Beach, I can’t help but be amazed by the agile wallabies in the area. At first you think they’re all alike – tan bodies with light markings on their cheeks and darker hands and feet. But, when I looked closer, I saw some wallabies with a unique fur coat that mixes dark and light patches of alternating color.

At first I thought I kept seeing the same one over and over, but then I realized there were at least three different animals. As far as I could tell, they were two males and a female. Funnily enough, the wallabies didn’t seem to come from the same mob or family. I never saw them together; always in different parts of the neighborhood with other wallabies. But when you have such an interesting look, it’s hard not to stand out.

I don’t know why some wallabies are colored this way and some aren’t, but it would be interesting to uncover the truth. Is it just a genetic defect or mutation? Or is it a slow evolution in the species?

Unfortunately, it seems like research on native wildlife is pretty scarce. The group that probably has the most knowledge but the least resources are the wildlife carers, who rescue the animals and work with them day in and day out. The group that likely has the most resources but the least desire to spend it on native wildlife seems to be the government. It does not financially support any of the work done by wildlife carers. Carers must foot the bill for all expenses.

The relationship between carers and the government is difficult to describe. On one hand, the carers do a service for the community for which I believe they should be compensated. They often patrol their neighborhoods and stop to check on animals that have recently been struck by cars, rescue joeys that may have survived the impact and pull dead carcasses off the road. However, on the other, they are functioning as members of non-profit wildlife rescue groups and are essentially volunteers.

Getting money from any government body is a tricky thing to navigate anywhere in the world. And, I’m sure the government relies on the fact that wildlife carers will do anything for the love of the animals, including spending thousands of dollars a year to feed, house and rehabilitate sick, injured and orphaned wildlife.

The entire issue is a double-edged sword though: If you stop rescuing the animals to make a point (essentially going on strike), the animals will suffer and I don’t really think the government will care. If you continue to rescue the animals without at least fighting for some financial compensation, you’ll never get it.

There’s never an easy solution to these situations. I think the unique fur coloring of some agile wallabies in Mission Beach (and possibly other areas) is something worth looking into. But the degree of importance to which this and other native wildlife and conservation issues falls on people’s list of priorities remains to be seen.

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Filed under Australia, Nature, Politics, Volunteering

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