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From the Newsroom

Emu parade gathers momentum

Geoff Helisma

The Lions Club of Clarence – Environmental [LCCE] is a rare breed of Lions club and, just like the threatened coastal emus it is campaigning to protect, its vital numbers are growing.

The nature-focussed group, the first of its kind in Australia, has gathered 1,318 signatures on its petition to reduce the speed limit on Brooms Head Road from 100kph to 80kph, particularly where emus regularly cross. In October last year, volunteers completed the group’s first major project, planting 250 trees and shrubs on a Shark Creek property that was devastated by bushfires in September and October of 2019. “The endangered coastal emu, phascogale, brolga, and an amazing amount of birdlife visit the [78 acres] property, which is about 80 percent wetland and dedicated to the Wildlife Land Trust,” LCCE spokesperson Barbara Linley said at the time.

Last week, around 100 people attended the launch of Clarence Distillery’s new Three Emu Vodka at the Yamba Surf Life Saving Club. “Earlier this year the distillery’s co-owner, Alison [Sloley] spoke to me about a new line and supporting the endangered coastal emu,” Ms. Linley said at the function. “Alison suggested that our group runs a silent auction to raise more funds for the emus and that for this night $5 per bottle goes to the emu campaign. “I also want to thank NSW Save Our Species, Clarence Valley Council, and Yaegl, the traditional owners.

“We are all now working together to save our endangered coastal emus.” Ms. Linley said the silent auction raised $2,245 and that vodka sales on the night brought the total raised to around $2,400. She said that the money would be used to purchase “electronic counters (to put on fences) and movement-triggered cameras”, which will be placed “where we know regular crossings take place, so we can find out who is who – all emus have a different head and, just like sheep [Ms. Linley previously bred superfine merinos], you can tell the difference”. Other initiatives under consideration include erecting interpretive signs and/or an emu statue in the Brooms Head area.

Clarence Distillery co-owner Adam Freeman said his business was proud to be supporting the cause, saving “the local coastal endangered emu”. “This is a local issue that we think we can help make a difference,” he said. Ms. Linley thanked sponsors of the fundraising night: Clarence Distillery, France Belle Parker, Tracy Pateman, Nicki Holmes, Pacific Hotel Yamba, Belinda Laurie, and the Yoga Room Wooloweyah. “The ‘three emus’ are very happy to know they and their families are not being forgotten,” she said.

Two dollars from future sales of each bottle of Three Emu Vodka will be donated towards the Lions Club of Clarence – Environmental’s campaign to raise awareness of the coastal emu’s plight.