Education project to aid wildlife health in Perth suburbs

March 14, 2016

An obese quenda

A quenda, obese through overfeeding which was anaesthetised for health checks (Pic courtesy of Alison Hillman, Murdoch PhD student)

A new community project which aims to protect and enhance the health of wildlife in the eastern suburbs has begun.

Murdoch University researchers Professor Andrew Thompson and Associate Professor Alan Lymbery are working with the Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council (EMRC) to raise community awareness of how parasitic diseases can be transmitted from humans and pets to wildlife.

The education program will also help residents minimise disease and other health risks to wildlife and encourage them to gather data on the extent of parasitic diseases being transmitted.

The Healthy Wildlife Healthy Lives project is funded by a grant of almost $200,000 from Lotterywest.

“Our amazing urban wildlife including birds and marsupials, are threatened by diseases of human origin like toxoplasmosis from food scraps and domestic cats, and Giardia from sewage contamination of the environment,” said Professor Thompson from Murdoch’s School of Veterinary and Life Sciences.

“A common interaction with wildlife that provides the means of transferring disease is backyard feeding with inappropriate food sources. While feeding is discouraged, there are safer food sources which minimise risks to wildlife health.

“We also want to educate the community about the important impact humans have on the environment and native animals, for example, releasing invasive fish species like goldfish into waterways that then not only compete with native species of fish, but also transfer new parasitic diseases to native species.”

Professor Lymbery added that the project had a ‘One Health’ message.

“The global ‘One Health’ initiative recognises that human health, animal health and ecosystem health are inextricably linked and there is a need to promote, improve and defend the health and well-being of all species,” he said.

“The Healthy Wildlife Healthy Lives project will involve the community in the creation of an innovative, low cost and sustainable model which we hope can be applied to communities beyond Perth’s eastern region.

“Many One Health projects in Australia have also focused on the transfer of diseases from animals to humans and the public health consequences rather than the transfer of diseases from humans to animals and the consequences for wildlife health and conservation.”

The project is still in the planning stages with EMRC and the Murdoch researchers hoping to run workshops, conduct surveys and run focus groups to educate and identify the best means of reporting disease.

A dedicated website will be developed as part of the project. The team will also be working closely with voluntary wildlife organisations such as Native Animal Rescue and Kanyana, as well as the Department of Parks and Wildlife and local veterinarians.

To register your interest in the project, please email Professor Thompson on or Professor Lymbery on

Notes to editors:

The EMRC is a progressive and innovative regional local government working on behalf of six member councils located in Perth’s eastern suburbs: Town of Bassendean, City of Bayswater, City of Belmont, Shire of Kalamunda, Shire of Mundaring and the City of Swan.

Together these councils constitute around one third of the area of metropolitan Perth and have a population in excess of 358,000 people.  EMRC, by partnering with member councils, facilitates strategies and actions for the benefit and sustainability of Perth’s eastern region.

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Comments (One response)

Glenys Trigwell March 24, 2016

There is a local, reasonably tame magpie with a lump on its head, the size of half a large walnut. We have been observing the growth of the lump for about five months, and though the plumage is healthy and the bird assertive, he is not eating well, and the beak is no longer being used normally. I have a video of the bird eating, and a photo of the distortion of the beak. Is there any way we can help this poor bird?
We have also been studying interaction and territory disputes between two groups of magpies. Anyone studying this?

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