A fearless snake wrangler, passionate wildlife advocate, 2021 Pittwater Woman of the Year, co-manager of Sydney Wildlife Mobile Care Unit… Lynleigh Greig is a true local legend.

For over a decade, Lynleigh Greig has selflessly volunteered her time and expertise to support injured and vulnerable animals, particularly during the devastating 2019/20 bushfires. She’s well known throughout the Beaches and beyond as our very own wildlife warrior and her story is fascinating…

Lynleigh’s love of animals and the great outdoors began during her childhood in Zimbabwe, where she and her sister would rescue and care for distressed wildlife in their backyard. “Having been born in Africa into a family of nutty wildlife-lovers, I suppose I was unofficially rescuing wildlife from the moment my grubby little paws could hold anything bigger than a tok-tokkie beetle,” she recalls. “Every critter that wandered into our backyard in Bulawayo got picked up, cuddled, fed and sent back on its merry way – everything from hedgehogs and tortoises to scorpions and snakes.”

When Lynleigh moved to the Northern Beaches with her family 18 years ago, she quickly found a second home at Sydney Wildlife Rescue where she regularly volunteers. One of her proudest achievements during her time is co-founding Sydney Wildlife Rescue’s Mobile Care Unit with Joan Reid. The pair raised $200,000 to buy and commission the unit and were honoured to receive an OAM (Order of Australia Medal) last year for their work getting the Mobile Care Unit up-and-running just in time to be deployed to the devastating 2019/20 Black Summer bush fires.

“Our Mobile Care Unit team was recently featured on Better Homes and Gardens with Dr Harry Cooper,” Lynleigh says. “We had the most amazing day filming with the 7 Network. We have also been filming with Associated Press and were interviewed for a podcast on SBS News recently. There are more exciting television appearances in the works, too, so stay tuned.”

Lynleigh’s days as a wildlife rescuer are far from typical and each day brings new challenges and responsibilities, from caring for orphaned animals to responding to emergency calls.

“Much of what we do is dependent on the seasons – spring is all about baby birds and flying fox pups and reptiles emerging from winter slumber; summer is all about snakes and monitors on the move and the risk of fire or heat-stress; autumn seems to be when wallabies get into trouble as dusk and dawn coincide with peak-hour traffic. Winter is slower for reptiles, but it seems to start raining baby possums,” she explains.

“If we have orphaned babies in care, our days start at 6am with bottle feeds; then we might get called to rescue a wallaby that has jumped into someone’s pool area overnight; then the midday goanna-in-a-chook-pen or python-in-a-pantry scenario might have us zooming out in a hurry…,” she continues. “Once the critical critter rescues have been dealt with, the possum foliage has been collected and the babies have been fed again at 10am and 2pm, it’s time to clean out the enclosures. We also do community education talks, present at conferences, lobby the government for the rights of wildlife, report cases of wildlife cruelty, fundraise, and help local vet clinics with medical supplies so they don’t have to use their own resources when treating wildlife.”

What To Do If You Find Injured Wildlife…

Lynleigh advises it’s important to call for advice and assistance as soon as you see a wild animal in distress. Just like any other animal, they feel pain and the duration of their suffering can be halved with quick intervention from a wildlife rescuer or a veterinarian. Call Sydney Wildlife Rescue on 9413 4300 – night or day and any day of the year – even Christmas Day.

It’s important not to offer food to an injured animal as the animal may need to be put under anaesthesia to be examined by a veterinarian. If they aspirate (bring up the food) whilst sedated, they can choke and die.

Never attempt to handle snakes, bats, goannas or large macropods (kangaroos/wallabies). Only trained experts can handle these species.

What Can Be Done To Help Our Local Wildlife…

Lynleigh has lots of brilliant tips for assisting our beautiful wild animals:

  • If it’s hot, put out some low, heavy-based ceramic vessels of water for them. Make sure to include pebbles and twigs so tiny critters can clamber out of the bowl.
  • If it’s raining, try to exercise tolerance if the wildlife is using your eaves or your veranda to shelter from the weather.
  • Please avoid feeding wildlife – they can get very sick if they are fed the wrong diet.
  • Keep our waterways, bushland and suburbs free of litter and debris as wildlife can become entangled or may ingest foreign objects.
  • Please fish responsibly. Many seabirds and marine creatures swallow discarded hooks and line which can often be fatal.
  • One of the worst impacts on wildlife is attacks by pets. Please keep your cats indoors and your dogs on a leash when going for a walk – this is for the safety of your pets, as well as the wildlife.
  • Remember to drive slowly and carefully between dusk and dawn when many of our nocturnal creatures are most active.
  • Never use poisons in your home or garden as they can cause secondary poisoning when owls or pythons or tawny frogmouths or lizards eat the affected rats or snails.
  • Plant indigenous shrubs and trees in your gardens to encourage beautiful native nectar-eating birds and tiny gliders.
  • In your backyard you can try to make sure there are little sanctuaries for blue-tongue lizards and water dragons to retreat to, in case they encounter one of your pets and need to escape in a hurry.  You can provide anything from bark caves to PVC piping and even upturned pots with little doorways for them.  You’d be delighted by the adorable creatures that may move in!

Or, you can join a Sydney Wildlife course which they run four times a year. Check out their website for the next upcoming date (there’s one starting online in June: sydneywildlife.org.au

Story: Melissa Woodley

Images: Sydney Wildlife Mobile Care Unit/Lynleigh Greig 





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