Joey rescued from bush death
HE IS the Sunshine Coast surfer who taught the bush kids they should care for, not kill, an orphaned red kangaroo joey.
Skip was a six-month-old bald bundle of ears and legs that became the centre of 30-year-old Che Chapman's world for four days in western Central Queensland.
It was while Che was on a trailbike mustering ride near Longreach as a group mentor for Beyond Billabong, a program for disadvantaged Queensland indigenous youths, that he first crossed paths with the joey he decided he just had to adopt.
"There were about a dozen of the boys and four of us mentors and there were about 50 kangaroos just spread everywhere," Che said.
"A couple of the boys saw one of them go into a fence and a joey fell out.
"There were a couple of them wanting to put it down on the spot, and I just said 'No, no, I'll take him'."
For the next few days Che tried desperately to find a carer as he fought to get the dehydrated joey back on track with a special kangaroo formula provided by a vet.
Che, who is an accomplished photographer with the Daily, said those days were surely "kangaroo hell".
"I had to take him wherever I went so I could feed him, on the motorbike on rough terrain and also in the car," he said. "At night time I put him in a pillow case and hung him on the end of the bed."
Back on the Sunshine Coast Che handed Skip over to Wildlife Volunteers Association president Sylvia Whiting.
The Yandina home she shares with her husband Bob is also a safe haven for sick, injured or orphaned wildlife, including joeys, possums, gliders, ducklings and other birds.
Sylvia has renamed Skip "Jedda" in honour of the orphan's anticipated jedi"-style return to his Central Queensland home. "He (Che) did a wonderful job, I'm surprised at how much effort he made," Sylvia said.
Che still checks on the progress of his one-time constant companion despite being back in Longreach for his Beyond Billabong job.
"I do miss him," Che, of Nambour, said.
"They obviously see hundreds of dead kangaroos around here, but I tell the boys that we try to look after our sick and injured animals on the Coast."
Anyone who wants to help Wildlife Volunteers Association can make donations at www.wilvos.org.au.