Tourist makes trek to pat bilby

Swiss woman helps cause

Western Times - - NEWS - Sarah Dionysius sarah.dionysius@west­ern­starnews.com

EVER since Lau­rine Chiarini heard about the Save the Bilby Fund, she hoped to meet a bilby in real life.

The only prob­lem was that Ms Chiarini lives in Switzer­land, al­most 15,000km from where the en­dan­gered species re­side.

Dis­tance was not going to stop her from achiev­ing her dream, so Ms Chiarini made the trek to Aus­tralia – just to meet a bilby.

“I found out about the Save the Bilby Fund in 2011 and ever since I have al­ways wanted to see a bilby,” she said.

“Last year the dates didn’t work for me but this year they did, so I just jumped at the chance.”

Ms Chiarini has joined the Save the Bilby Fund’s Bilby Tracks program, a ci­ti­zen sci­ence program op­er­at­ing in­side the Bilby Fence – a preda­tor-ex­clu­sion area at Cur­rawinya Na­tional Park in west­ern Queens­land.

While work­ing within the program, Ms Chiarini was able to ex­pe­ri­ence what she had hoped to do for the past six years.

“I’ve ac­tu­ally got­ten to stroke two bil­bies, Sarah and Su­san,” she said.

“That was ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic and they are do­ing some amaz­ing work here in the program.

“Just watch­ing them jump around and live their lit­tle lives was a re­ally good ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Ms Chiarini hopes to share what she learns from the program when she re­turns home.

“No­body knows about the bilby in Switzer­land,” she said.

“But I have a lot of younger fam­ily mem­bers, so I hope the cute fac­tor of the bilby will help.”

Over­all, Ms Chiarini will spend 16 days in Aus­tralia.

So far her ex­pe­ri­ence had been one to re­mem­ber.

“Peo­ple are re­ally, re­ally nice and ev­ery­one has made me feel so wel­come,” she said.

A sec­ond Bilby Tracks program will run in Novem­ber.

If you are in­ter­ested in tak­ing part in the program, email bil­by­tracks@ savethe­bil­by­fund.org or visit the Save the Bilby web­site.

PHOTO: SARAH DIONYSIUS

FURRY FUN: Lau­rine Chiarini and Colleen Foelz dressed up as fire­men at the Fur Ball in Charleville on Satur­day.

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