An open letter of thanks to Beliefnet users from the Tasmanian Conservation Trust.

The Tasmanian Conservation Trust would like to thank you for contributing to the immensely successful Penguin Jumpers project. We have collected over 3,100 jumpers (as of August 31st 2001). As well as every state of Australia, jumpers have come from as far afield as Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, the Netherlands, the UK and the USA. Because we have received so many jumpers, we have been able to pass some on to authorities and conservation groups in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, where there are also colonies of Little penguins that are threatened by human impacts.

The generosity, enthusiasm and creativity of all participants has been a source of constant amazement to all here at the Trust. The stockpile of jumpers and the oil spill response kits that have been created are a reassuring guarantee for all the penguin colonies on mainland Tasmania. However, oil spills are not the only threat facing Little penguins. There is an ever increasing problem on Bruny Island, a small island in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel in southern Tasmania. Accessible only by ferry, Bruny Island is a popular tourist destination due to its rugged natural beauty and astonishing diversity of wildlife, which includes several thousand Little penguins. Trust supporter Dr. Tonia Cochrane had this to say about Bruny Island and its penguins:

"As a local resident and biologist who conducts wildlife tours on the island, I have found that one of the main attractions for visitors to the island is the Little penguin, the smallest penguin species in the world. One can view these little birds returning to their burrows at dusk mainly during the breeding season (August to February) although they can be found here all year round. They share this area with another ground-nesting bird, the Short-tailed shearwater which visitors can also view in the spring and summer months. Unfortunately, the rookery is situated on the narrowest part of the island (less than 100 metres wide in places), which is the isthmus that connects the northern and southern part of Bruny Island. The main road that connects the two parts of the island by necessity passes through this area and the penguins often have to cross the road to access their burrows. Sadly, an increasing number are hit by vehicles as they frantically attempt to waddle across the road, which is of great concern as their numbers are decreasing year by year. We desperately need funds to enable us to fence off both sides of the road and provide underpasses through which the penguins can safely access their burrows. We hope you can help to save these little birds and make their future on this special island brighter."

The cost of fencing both sides of the 3 km road along the neck on Bruny Island, as well as the placement of several culverts to allow penguins to move under the road, has been costed at $100,000. The Trust will be applying for both state and federal funds for this project, as well as approaching corporate sponsors. We would also like to give the opportunity to all participants in the Penguin Jumper project to help contribute.

Our target is $100,000 by June 30th 2002. The Tasmanian Conservation Trust would be grateful for any help in reaching this target. With the uncertainty of securing funding or sponsorship, your contribution may be critical. We are a registered charity, so all donations of more than $2 are tax deductible for Australian Residents. If you care to make a cash donation, we have available a number of knitting patterns which may be used for fund-raising.

Thank you again for your interest and assistance in conservation of Little penguins in Tasmania.

Kind regards

Craig Woodfield
TCT Penguins Project Officer

The Tasmanian Conservation Trust
102 Bathurst Street, Hobart Tasmania 7000 Australia
Email: tct@southcom.com.au URL: www.tct.org.au

(continue on to read the original penguin article)

There is an environmental crisis in Tasmania. Thousands of lives are at stake. Officials have mobilized hundreds of citizens who have special training to aid in the crisis, but they need many more.

Where have they found these citizens? Well, they started in nursing homes, where residents rose to the challenge. Hundreds of handy white-haired grandmothers immediately took up their needles to knit thousands of tiny sweaters. These sweaters are the best hope for little waterfowl known as fairy penguins.

A series of oil spills off the coast of Tasmania, an island state of Australia, has put the lives of fairy penguins into jeopardy. The problem is that the penguins naturally "preen"--that is, they clean themselves by licking, thereby ingesting poisonous oil. The sweaters cover the little penguins, most no more than 15 inches tall, from neck to flipper, helping them stay warm and survive after their contact with the life-threatening oil spills.

According to the Tasmanian Conservation Trust, the penguins aren't too happy with the sweaters. But, like small children, they eventually accept what's good for them.

The handmade sweaters have been coming in from as far away as New York and Japan, and the knitters have a chance to use their fashion sense. While some of the sweaters are tiny versions of the traditional tuxedo, many are in the colors of favorite sports teams.

Although the original deadline has passed, the Trust has received only 1,000 sweaters so far and need at least 2,000 more. There is no formal extension date, but they are asking that any willing knitters send the sweaters as soon as possible. If you'd like a pattern to knit a penguin sweater, go to the website for the Tasmanian Conservation Trust.

Send this story to the knitters you know! Just click the button below to e-mail a copy.

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