Wednesday, 25 April 2007

The Baby Kangaroo Rescue Centre in Alice Springs

I was on holiday last week in Australia's "Red Centre", visiting Uluru (Ayer's Rock) and the town of Alice Springs (immortalised in Nevil Shute's novel, A Town Like Alice).

Alice Springs is home to some uniquely Australian institutions, such as the School of the Air (i.e., students in the far flung Australian Outback taught by teachers through radio and now the Internet) and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

But one of the unofficial tour attractions that I had the pleasure of visiting was Chris "Brolga" Barns's Baby Kangaroo Rescue Centre. For a $5 donation, Brolga lets you into the compound to share a very unique experience - learning to look after baby kangaroos.

Central Australia is extremely dry, not quite a desert, but a kind of savannah. In this arid country, the exhaust fumes from automobiles, funnily enough, are a major source of moisture, and so there is rich vegetation growing along the sides of the highways here. Vegetation attracts grazing kangaroos, and unfortunately, this leads to large numbers of kangaroos being hit and killed by passing vehicles.

Brolga advises that if you pass a dead kangaroo, don't just drive past, because even dead marsupials may often be carrying live young in their pouches, which could perish without timely rescue and care. Stop your vehicle by the side of the road (if it's safe for you to pull over, of course), then examine the dead kangaroo's pouch.

If you find a baby kangaroo in the pouch, make a bag out of a T-shirt or cushion cover, then help the baby into it. (Baby kangaroos often need no encouragement to enter a bag. They somersault into it.) Then, holding the bag against the warmth of your body, take it to a nearby town and ask around for a person who looks after baby kangaroos. There are such kind souls in almost every town. Give the baby kangaroo some water, but avoid giving it cow's milk, as this will not agree with it.

Also, before leaving the scene, try and move the carcase well away from the road, as otherwise, scavengers like the wedge-tailed eagle also become roadkill in turn.

Brolga's work is well-known around Alice Springs. The cabbie who drove us into town from the airport told us about him, which is how we walked into his little centre. One of our tour guides also turned out to be a friend of his and a regular contributor of rescued baby kangaroos.

Unfortunately, the Northern Territory government doesn't seem to be very helpful in supporting Brolga's work. The nearby national parks, surprisingly, don't have any facilities to look after orphaned baby kangaroos, and unpaid volunteers like Brolga are treated with suspicion by the bureaucracy. Brolga says the donations he gets from visitors allow his kangaroo rescue efforts to be self-sustaining, but the effort needs more institutional support, which isn't forthcoming.

If you're ever in Alice Springs, pay the centre a visit. It's very heartening to see the little critters being well looked after, and there's a steady stream of visitors trooping in, having heard of the centre by mere word of mouth.

Update Jan 2013: Brolga seems to have acquired a 90 acre wildlife reserve in Alice Springs, and also has a website, www.kangaroosanctuary.com. His new email address is brolga@kangaroosanctuary.com

Donations may be made by PayPal or by electronic transfer. The link to PayPal is on the website.

For bank transfers, use the following details:
Bank name: National Australia Bank
Account Name: Baby Kangaroo Centre Pty Ltd
BSB: 085-995
Account: 89 344 3860
SWIFT code (required from outside Australia): NATAAU3303M

Give the man a hand. He's doing great work.

26 comments:

John Asprey said...

The BBC has just shown Part 1 of a two-part documentary on this rescue centre. He and others are doing a great job in helping orphaned baby kangaroos. The man deserves our support and I will be sending a contribution from England to help him with his work.

John

gen austin said...

We too have just watched this and think it is amazing how brolga has dedicated his life to the unfortunate roos. It is something that should be supported by his government. Another English donation on its way to help keep it going.
Kind regards from genandsand

gen austin said...

We too have just watched this and think it is amazing how brolga has dedicated his life to the unfortunate roos. It is something that should be supported by his government. Another English donation on its way to help keep it going.
Kind regards from genandsand

z1toecutter said...

enjoyed part 1 ,cant wait for part 2 to see if the joey survives. why was it hidden away on channel 2 ?
bloody good television all the same
much better than the tripe served up on the main channels on a saturday night!..... i was left with the thought of a very compasionate guy who is making a difference for his being on this planet....good on ya brolga...
Alan . england..

Tiffchalmers said...

Hi! I have just watched the programme too. How can we donate from the uk?

pete beale said...

well that left me with moist eyes. And these great people in our world with big hearts make me realise that all is not lost. luckily I have the money to help a bit, can we paypal or bank transfer please . pete beale UK

pete beale said...

well that just made my day . there are great people in this world . how can we donate please . LOVED IT . thanks from the UK

Dusky said...

What a humble, kind soul this man is! Dedicating his life to helping those beautiful animals. I wish more people were like this in our world - It wouldnt be such a messed up place.
I am going to Oz next month and will definitely be looking Brolga up and supporting.

Jim Graham said...

what a wonderful man doing so great, how can we support him by sponsoring on a regular basis?

Tiffchalmers said...

Yes, that's what I'd like to do, rather than a one-off

Dusky said...

I see many of you are asking about making contact with Brolga. Not sure is this info is up to date as article is old but there is an email maybe you could contact? Taken from above.

Brolga's business card provides his address:
Melanka Complex
94 Todd Street
Alice Springs
Northern Territory, Australia

For rescue or enquiries, call 0407 718 409 or 0415 207 703 (from outside Australia, you'd need to call +61-407 718 409 or +61-415 207 703). Brolga's e-mail address is brolga72@hotmail.com.

Donations and mail may be sent to:
PO Box 4921
Alice Springs
NT 0871
Australia

Tiffchalmers said...

Wonder if the bbc could set something up? I'd rather double check that money will get through and in the right currency. If Brolga lives in his shack with no electricity, he won't be checking his email too often....but might be worth a shot.

Dusky said...

Good point Tiffchalmers. I have sent an email an will see what happens. I will be in Oz soon so will check it out if we are not able to contact on here I'll post back info on this blog if needed.

Tiffchalmers said...

Excellent! Thank you Dusky.

stanley collie said...

What a fantastic program,and a great man,watched it instead of casualty or that terrible celebrity diving rubbish !!!Is it possible toarrange a visit in advance ? also does anyone have an up to date e-mail, id love to donate monthly. Great job.
jason.

stanley collie said...

What a fantastic program,and a great man,watched it instead of casualty or that terrible celebrity diving rubbish !!!Is it possible toarrange a visit in advance ? also does anyone have an up to date e-mail, id love to donate monthly. Great job.
jason.

JayJay said...

Have only just got round to seeing this after having saved it - thank goodness I did, it was such a great programme & like nearly all the other people who have seen it, I would like to be able to support this work with a regular donation. It would be really appreciated if anyone can supply info. on how to do this. Good work BBC2 - better late than never.

Dusky said...

Hi all, made some headway. Please ingnore old address info, please try this link which links directly to Brolga's Roo Sanctuaryhttp://www.kangaroosanctuary.com
he is also now on FaceBook so follow link above :)

Ganesh Prasad said...

Thanks for the update, Dusky. I've updated the blog entry with the latest contact information and also provided a bit more detail to facilitate bank transfers, especially from overseas.

Tiffchalmers said...

Thank you dusky and Ganesh!

Londoner said...

I have checked Global Giving which take small donations to overseas charities but the Roo sanctuary is not on it, sadly, and international donations are prohibitively expensive via my bank.

They can be recommended as a charity

http://www.globalgiving.co.uk/non-profits/join-globalgiving/recommend.html

Or does anyone know of another way to donate that doesn't cost a fortune, thereby allowing modest contributions to be a reality for what must be thousands of viewers of this programme on the BBC?

Sandra Oz said...

Hi there Brolga sent an update on Facebook today ro confirm PayPal is now up and running. he is blown away by the response from the UK!

Sandra Oz said...

Hi there Brolga sent an update on Facebook today ro confirm PayPal is now up and running. he is blown away by the response from the UK!

Ian Scott said...

This story has been a 2 part documentary on BBC2 in UK. Very moving and brings a tear to the eye. Will look up the Facebook page and make a donation to this fantastic work

Lucy Victoria said...

Just watched part 2 of this documentary..absolutely heart-warming! :)
http://lifeinsidethelocket.blogspot.co.uk

Mike Gibbs said...

I too i have just watched "Kangeroo Dundee". in the UK. Brolga you truly are an very kind and dedicated man,i hope that a lot of people will donate to your rescue centre.I will make my donation right now to help you rescue more roos.
Kind Regards from Mike Gibbs UK.