Rotary lends a hand to bordertown's famous white kangaroos

Rotary lends a hand to bordertown's famous white kangaroos

The Rotary Club of Bordertown has built much-needed shelters for their local sanctuary’s famous mob of white kangaroos.

Local Barry Smith caught a rare, large white buck in 1984 by jumping from his motorcycle and crash-tackling it to the ground after fears hunters would target him as an unusual trophy.

Over 50 of his descendants have inherited his remarkable snowy fur over the following decades, an unusually strong expression of the white gene.

The council wished to build shelters to allow the kangaroos to better avoid the elements within their enclosures. However, their current budget did not allow for the requisite manpower – something the Rotary Club was happy to provide.

“There are trees and scrub in the pens but it wasn’t enough for the whole mob to fit under comfortably, so a tin shelter was installed – but the kangaroos wouldn’t go near it. It was too loud when it rained,” said Rotarian Trevor Butler.

It was decided this problem could be avoided by constructing the new shelters from thatching native plants. “A bunch of Rotarians went down to a property in Willalooka with lots broombush, cutting off a trailer load of big bundles. We then built a frame and had to learn how thatch properly. It was a learning curve as we hadn’t done that sort of thing before,” said Trevor.

After all this effort, it wasn’t certain the white kangaroos would take to their new ‘furniture’. However one freezing, rainy day not long after they went up Trevor took a look on his way to work. “Sure enough they were all huddled in the two thatched shelters – and none were in the tin shed.”

Rotary plans on building additional shelters for the two other paddocks the roos are rotated through, and is discussing further involvement in sanctuary maintenance and expanding the operation. Councilor and Rotarian Ken McInerney commented, “Bordertown’s white kangaroos are one of our largest tourist draw cards, making a big impact on our local economy. They are also wonderful ambassadors for native wildlife, drawing attention to its beauty and uniqueness.”

Australian Rotarians are busy assisting wildlife throughout the world. The Rotary Nest Box Project has provided over 5000 nest boxes for native birds and mammals to replace hollows destroyed through deforestation. The Rotarian Action Group for Endangered Species cares for orphaned pygmy elephants in Borneo and now heads up education programs in an effort to conserve the species – of which only 1500 individuals remain.

2017’s Rotary International President, Australian Ian Riseley, has placed emphasis on conservation. “The time is long past when environmental sustainability can be dismissed as not Rotary’s concern. It is, and must be, everyone’s concern,” he said.

Source: Rotary Down Under