Founder shares naming honour
FOR some people, sharing a name with a parasite is hardly affirming, but for June Butcher, having one named after her is a “great honour”.
The Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre founder recently became the namesake of a new coccidia parasite discovered in silvereye birds that were brought to the Lesmurdie facility.
Known as the isospora butcherae, the microscopic organism was discovered by Kanyana’s microscopy co-ordinator Lindy Brice, who has been involved in a study with Murdoch University scientists since 2012.
As the research paper was being compiled, Mrs Butcher stepped down as chairwoman of Kanyana, so it became fitting to name the parasite after her.
The 82-year-old Kalamunda resident said she was “thrilled” and it was a “great honour” because a parasite was just as much wildlife as any other species.
“People involved in wildlife don’t have the luxury of choosing which wildlife to care about and which to ignore,” she said.
“All wildlife is special, including parasitic bacteria. Indeed, our microscopic wildlife makes it possible for all other plant and animal life to exist.”
Mrs Butcher, who grew up in Pakistan caring for mongooses, myrnas and songbirds, said there were several types of coccidia parasites that commonly infected a variety of animals but few caused disease.
“To date the collaboration between Murdoch scientists and Kanyana’s Lindy Brice has resulted in 13 new coccidian species being described from reptiles and birds. Its importance lies in the deepening of our understanding of the interplay between microorganisms and larger animals,” she said.
Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre founder June Butcher and microscopy co-ordinator Lindy Brice.