In Perth in Western Australia, two hot summers and two relatively dry winters have caused underground water levels to drop.
GV Lake at Perth, Australia.
GV OF Bird population (Swans, Geese, Seagulls) (3 SHOTS)
CU OF Dried-up lake beds. (2 SHOTS)
CU ZOOM OUT TO SV Bird floating in lake.
SV PAN Wildlife rescue jeep, Mr. Keith Smith businessman, gets out.
CU OF Mr. Keith Smith looking through binoculars.
SV Birds swimming in water.
CU PAN OF Mr. Smith laying bread crumbs on shoreline.
GV PAN OF Birds landing.
SV OF Mr. Smith laying down breadcrumbs.
SV & CU OF Birds in water. (2 SHOTS)
CU Mr. Smith talking.
SV OF Birds eating breadcrumbs.
SV OF Mr. Smith throwing bread to birds and birds eating. (3 SHOTS)
CU INTERIOR Mr. Smith feeding slck bird with tube.
SV INTERIOR Birds in boxes. (2 SHOTS)
SV EXTERIOR Mr. Smith helping black swan to walk. (2 SHOTS)
WOOD: "There are more than a dozen lakes stretching in a north-south are through the Perth Metropolitan area and they are a haven for native bird-life. Feeding the swans at some of the lakes is a popular Sunday pastime. But for many of the lakes the situation this year is grim. The water table has fallen so much that some are little more than a few stagnant pools causing a severe outbreak of disease. Hundreds of birds have died with little or nothing being done to overcome the problem. But now a public campaign is underway to save to city's birdlife thanks to one man. Businessman Keith Smith has set up a bird hospital in the dining room of his suburban home to treat birds collected from metropolitan lakes. As well as treating sick birds Keith Smith has started a feeding campaign which has been taken up by an army of volunteers. Local bakeries provide up to six hundred loaves of bread a day for the programme. But the feeding has been criticised by wildlife authorities who say it just encourages birds to stay in dry lakes rather than to move to areas where water and food is available."
SMITH: "There is very little water about now. It does not matter where you go. A lot of the country lakes are dried out. A lot of the birds that are here are country birds. The birds are attracted to the metropolitan lakes mainly by the public. The wildlife department has said to us, is it advisable that we feed them? We feel that over the years, over the past three years this problem has existed quite badly and, as much as the wildlife department would like to think they will go away, they do not go away. And on several lakes in the metropolitan areas hundreds of birds have died every year because they do not go away. They stay there and nobody was feeding them in those years except for the people who go down on a Sunday and on week-ends with an odd bit of bread."
WOOD: "At any one time the dining room of the Smith's home can be crowded with up to 50 wild ducks, swans and geese, and with growing experience, their success rate in treating the birds is improving. Between them Keith and his wife spend a total of thirty hours each day looking after their charges. One of them stays home from their business every day to provide the treatment and tour the lakes looking for new patients. And during the night they are up every two hours. The Smiths have saved about a hundred birds in the past few weeks. But more than that, the publicity their work has attracted has resulted in a public awareness that has saved hundreds more and probably ensured that in future early action will mean a similar crisis will be avoided."
REPORTER: BRENDAN WOOD
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: In Perth in Western Australia, two hot summers and two relatively dry winters have caused underground water levels to drop. The result is a crisis for the West Australian capital's native birds. The water table has fallen to such an extent that dozens of lakes that normally act as a haven for wild birds can no longer support them. But one man has come to the rescue of the birds. Australian Broadcasting Commission's Brendan Wood reports.