Swanning around with wildlife

Melanie Barsony has been a wildlife carer for seven years and says, in a world struggling under the weight of population and pollution, saving animals is her small way of contributing something positive to the planet.

The bird co-ordinator with WIRES Northern Rivers has most recently been caring for three black swan cygnets, which were found wandering along a road in Casino, orphaned and far from water. Last weekend, after a steady diet of greens and six weeks of loving care in the safety of a paddle pool, Melanie had the pleasure of releasing the swans back into the wild.

“I feel like it makes a difference when we get wildlife that would surely die if we didn’t intervene and we get them back out into the wild so they can breed,” Melanie said. “Most of the wildlife in need of rescuing is due to direct input from man – whether that’s roads, habitat destruction, or domestic animals. We’re responsible for all of that so I feel a responsibility to help these animals.”

Melanie said WIRES is always looking for more volunteers, and believes even a small act of kindness is better than doing nothing.

“The state of the world can be quite depressing, quite overwhelming sometimes, but we can all help even if it’s in a small way,” she said. “It’s like the story of the man walking along the beach throwing starfish washed up on the shore back into the water. There’s a huge amount of starfish and another man walking by asks, ‘Why are you doing that? There’s so many it’s not going to make a difference’. The other man picks up a starfish, throws it back and says, ‘Well, it made a difference to that one’.

“What we do is only tip of the iceberg stuff, but at least it’s something.”

The cygnets were released at Derek Skingle’s Jiggi property, in a large dam with lots of green feed.

Derek will keep an eye on them and provide support food until they are old enough to fly and manage on their own. Australia is lucky enough to have the world’s only black swans, which live up to 40 years, mate for life, and can have a wing span of two metres.

WIRES desperately needs more carers, particularly in Lismore, Ballina and Evans Head. If you don’t have the time to become a carer, you can always help out on the phones, fundraising or rescuing wildlife.

For information or to volunteer some time, phone 6628 1898.

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