18 Mar 2017

Kiwi man accused of throwing quokka into water

8:03 pm on 18 March 2017

Australian police have arrested a New Zealander for allegedly throwing a quokka into the ocean.


Quokkas are found in abundance on Rottnest Island and are a major tourist attraction. Photo: 123RF

Police said the man, 37-year-old Bevan Denis Hames, picked up the quokka and threw it into the water from a jetty on Rottnest Island, off Perth, about 10pm yesterday.

Another man, a 38-year-old from Queensland, was fined $200 and evicted from the island for helping to catch the quokka.

Quokkas, which are marsupials about the size of a cat, are a tourist attraction on Rottnest Island. They are found in abundance on Rottnest and are a major drawcard for tourists, but are no longer common on the mainland.

"The quokka was able to swim to shore," a police spokesman said.

The man, who is from Christchurch, was charged with animal cruelty.

He was due to appear before the Perth Magistrates Court today.

The case comes after a 21-year-old man was fined after admitting the ill-treatment of a quokka. He filmed a man allegedly attacking the animal on the island last month.

The man in the video is due to reappear in court in May.

In 2015, two French backpackers were fined after one of them set fire to a quokka.

The Rottnest Island Authority (RIA) said it had not noticed any surge in quokka harming.

"I wouldn't say there's been a discernible increase," RIA senior ranger Doug Long said.

"It's just that with the advent of social media we seem to able to pick up on these incidents a lot quicker and follow them through to conclusions a lot faster than we've been able to in the past."

Mr Long said quokkas were generally "very happy animals" and tended not to view humans as predators.

According to the Rottnest Island website, quokka are a vulnerable species and the island is its pest-free refuge. Acts of animal cruelty could result in fines up to $50,000 and five years imprisonment under the Australian Animal Welfare Act 2002.