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Histories and more stories

A letter written by a very soecial friend Dr Wendy Bergen when she nominated me for the Pride of Australia in 2013



Imagine finding yourself in Atherton Tablelands, new to the area, just purchasing 179 acres of rainforest, ready to build a house. Are you interested in wildlife and nature?

Yes, why else would buy rainforest?
Whilst building your dream home, you notice that your rainforest has these sweet little creatures. Are they kangaroos? Yes, but special kangaroos – the Lumholtz Tree kangaroo. One of Australia’s truly unique species, which is found nowhere else in the World.

The average person would say wow we’ve got tree kangaroos on our block and leave it at that. But the average person is not Karen Coombes.

A woman who has worked with animals for most of her life, through wildlife care for the past 25 years, veterinary nursing and scientific research as the Collections Manager with the Northern Territory Museum.


Karen’s dilemma was – what to do to help this threatened species? Preserve your rainforest; become a member of the local Tree Kangaroo Group to learn more about this species? This was not good enough for Karen.
Karen went back to university and completed a PHD (2005) in a cryptic species whom which most researchers have put into the too hard basket (there were only 2 people before Karen whom have done such studies and none since) – the ecology of the Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo. Research which involved 5 years of transects through thick rainforest, catching and tracking animals which live over 20 metres in the canopy.
The majority of PHD candidates would be content to achieve such a task. However Karen Coombes has taken this one step beyond by becoming the spokesperson for the preservation of this unique species.
Karen not only has undertaken her PHD in the ecology of the Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo, she also cares for orphaned and injured tree kangaroos, and with the help of her partner Neil McLauchlan, has established Australia’s first Tree Kangaroo Rescue Centre, possibly the first in the World .

She educates the public of their plight, writes books to educate our children, gives lectures to our scientific community and the general public, and creates a public awareness of the plight of these threatened native animals in our urban environment, with habitat fragmentation, cars and dogs being their major threats. The majority of these activities have been undertaken at her and her partner’s own expenses over the past 15 years.
Her ongoing pursuit in the protection of these animals is unsurpassed by the efforts and energy Karen finds on a daily basis to promote community awareness of an almost unknown Australian Threatened Species (unfortunately only listed as Least Concerned by the QLD EHP currently). The result of this will only further benefit the protection of this species and their environment for future generations to come.
Crucial funding will need to be obtained to support and advance the understanding and preservation of this threatened Species. Without funding the likelihood that our children will continue to enjoy this threatened species is grave.

So Karen and Neil have now set up their Rescue Centre as a Non-profit/charity to help them pay for the rescue, rehabilitation and care of injured Lumholtz tree kangaroos into the future. It is called Tree Roo Rescue and Conservation Centre Ltd.


Thanks to this wonderful lady I was a finalist for Qld and came 2nd in the Pride of Australia

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