Lumholtz Tree Kangaroos: Victims of Climate Change?
These unique and beautiful Australian animals are only found in Far North Queensland but did you know that droughts are causing them to suffer blindness?
They are often mistaken for possums or pademelon wallabies but if you look closely you will notice distinctive characteristics – dark faces and a yellowy-brown outline, small round ears and very long tails.
There are actually two species of tree kangaroos – the Lumholtz and the Bennett’s tree kangaroos.
And, unlike many Australian animals, tree kangaroos are not nocturnal so they are easier to see during the day.
tree roo rescue & conservation centre
Often affectionately referred to as the ‘crazy tree kangaroo lady’, Karen is actually the world’s leading expert on Lumholtz tree kangaroos. She completed her PhD on the ecology, biology and habitat of these animals and established the rescue centre.
Karen had worked as a wildlife carer for almost 26 years and also as a vet nurse so this seemed like a natural progression.
threats faced by tree kangaroos
The main threats they face are attacks from domestic and wild dogs, being hit by cars and the loss of their natural habitat.
Unfortunately many Lumholtz tree kangaroos also suffer from Dry Weather Syndrome, which causes blindness.
dry weather syndrome
It appears that the lack of moisture in the dehydrated leaves eaten by the kangaroos causes a build up of toxins, which affects their central nervous system and causes blindness. Dr Read believes this is a climate change issue.
When we visited the Rescue Centre nine out of the 10 tree kangaroos in Karen’s care were blind, so it is a significant issue for these animals.
The only non-blind roo is a three year-old female named Zoe who was hand-reared by Karen.
tree roo awareness week
As a part of this the Tree Roo Rescue & Conservation Centre also runs Tree Roo Awareness Week, an initiative to educate people about these unique animals.
travel nq fast facts:
- The Tree Roo Rescue Centre relies on grants and donations.
- If you would like to find out more about these animals go to www.treeroorescue.org.au. To make a donation go to their Facebook page.
- Tree kangaroos mainly eat rainforest leaves so they can be difficult to look after. Last year Karen received a Government grant to plant 1600 more trees to help feed them. They also enjoy sweet potatoes, corn, bananas and apples.