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How Do You Listen to Nature?

How Do You Listen to Nature?

With Elisha Jacobs-Smith

How Do You Listen to Nature?

The Particle Podcast is back baby! And this season, we are taking a look at all things and careers environmental. So strap on your hiking boots and take a breath of fresh air – it’s time to join us on an outdoor adventure!

In this episode, we ask Noongar Ranger Elisha Jacobs-Smith all about his connection to the land and what we can learn from Aboriginal culture. We chatted about how he worked towards his dream career, going from hairdresser to protector of the environment.

Particle Podcast is about science and the people who just love it. It’s produced and presented by Rose Kerr (@rosie.zkerr). Particle is powered by Scitech, and you can tell us your favourite way to get down with nature @ParticleWA on Twitter and Instagram.

Read Transcript

How Do You Listen to Nature?

  • Host: Rose Kerr
  • Guest: Elisha Jacobs-Smith

**Cue music (intro theme)

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Kaya. Ngany kwel Elisha Jacobs-Smith. Nidja Whadjuk boodja, nidja Djilba. My name is Elisha Jacobs-Smith. We’re here on Whadjuk country, in the season of Djilba, which is the time of conception, and we’re transitioning into Kambarang, the season of birth.

Rose Kerr: Particle would like to acknowledge and pay respects to the traditional owners of the land we record on – the Whadjuk people. We also acknowledge the role of Aboriginal people as the first scientists in Australia.

*music starts*

Rose Kerr: Welcome to the Particle Podcast, where we talk about science and the people who just love it! I’m your host, Rose Kerr, and this season of the podcast we are deep diving on all things environmental. Today I am joined by Elisha Jacobs-Smith, Noongar Ranger and lover of nature. We had a chat about connection to the land, and the wonders of WA’s flora and fauna.

Rose Kerr: Starting off, what do you actually do?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: So what I do? Well, that’s a pretty big question. So my role in conservation is I work in a position, which is an Indigenous Ranger traineeship role, which is a partnership between the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) and the Southwest Aboriginal Land and Sea Council. I’m gonna breathe (laughter) and yes, so basically what I do is I work in majority of the areas through DBCA. So I work with fauna, flora, I work in fire. And I work in parks and visitor services also. And then I’m also acting in a position in the Aboriginal engagement in heritage units, which is as a project officer of Aboriginal programs at the moment.

Rose Kerr: You sound quite busy.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Yes, it’s quite busy!

Rose Kerr: Do you have a favourite aspect of what you do the thing that like, when you’re thinking about your week, and all the things you’ve got to do in a week, is there a particular activity or day that you’re like, ‘yes, that’s my favourite bit of the week’.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Oh, I would have to say probably one of my favourite things to be able to do at work is going and checking on, I guess endangered, or threatened sites through the bush. So some of the Rangers that I get to work with, they are quite often patrolling, looking for illegal activity, and also like, you know, documenting fauna and flora. Those are probably the things that I look forward to the most because you get to peel yourself away from the desk, and go out and do some really exciting work and then you know, you come across amazing things like orchids and different types of birds and plants you may have never seen before, or you’ve never seen them in flower. And you know, that’s probably my most exciting part of work.

Rose Kerr: Understandably. Do you find that it’s more desk work or getting out and about?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Currently in my role? It’s a lot of desk work. Yeah, yeah. So because I’m working in the two positions at the moment, two days a week, I’m working at a desk. And then the next three days of work are at my Indigenous Ranger position. And a lot of that’s also at the desk, because I’m studying at the same time through that role. So a lot of it is sort of doing assignment and then putting things together and answering emails. But then hopefully you know, at least one day a week, I get to get out into the bush and do some on ground field work.

Rose Kerr: Probably reminds you why you’re doing all of it.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Yeah, yep, definitely. Yeah.

Rose Kerr: Is it the kind of work that, I don’t know when you’re a little kid, you imagined yourself doing? Is that something you always wanted to do?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Yeah, I guess what I always wanted to do was just care for country, care for animals and the environment. And so it’s definitely along the lines of what I probably wanted to do. Although there’s, you know, some sort of little adjustments that I would ideally, you know, love, but it’s a fantastic job. And, yeah, it’s very, very exciting.

Rose Kerr: What does a typical day in the life look like for you if you are going out to do some surveys, but like today, earlier, you’re saying you’re checking on some cameras? What’s it like, what are the tasks is doing?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: So the tasks that I’ll do on an average guy going out and doing survey or field work, usually you’d come into the office, let everybody know that you’re going out to do field work…

Rose Kerr: … everyone’s jealous…

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: (laughs) making coffee, and then of course, it’s you know, rounding up the staff that you’re going, getting all the equipment and printing maps, making sure that you’ve got the GPS points that you need for the surveys. And then of course, checking the vehicles and heading out. So basically like today, what we were doing is retrieving cameras that were put out for a fauna survey in Wandoo National Park, which is quite exciting,

Rose Kerr: What kind of things are you looking for?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: And so the kind of animals that we’re looking for, is basically anything that turns up on our cameras. These ones are a part of a three year rotation. And what they do basically is they give an estimation of the rise and fall of animal populations. So you might see things like, you know, lots of kangaroos – yongka, kwoora the black-gloved wallaby, emus, sometimes foxes and cats and different things. And so that gives an indication of whether or not you might need to be doing some feral animal removal or, you know, in terms of how the fauna populations are going in those areas.

Rose Kerr: Is it … are you finding over time that the populations are decreasing? Is that generally the trend?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Yeah, there’s definitely a lot of things that contribute to the decrease in populations, but with, you know, the the minimising amount of bush land, and then obviously, climate change is a major factor, and then the increased predation from feral species. Yeah, a lot of our threatened species and especially the smaller marsupial’s are heavily decreasing, unfortunately.

Rose Kerr: Does it feel disheartening? Sometimes?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: It does. So, I mean, I always try to remain optimistic. But a lot of the time, when you’re going and doing all this work, you realise that, people are the problem. And then you think, oh, I don’t want to be the part of the problem, I wish it would just go away. But you know, obviously, you know, there’s a big part in that. And, you know, I’m a Noongar man and my people have been here for tens of thousands of years. And we played a major role in maintaining the biodiversity of the land. And so it’s not necessarily a people problem, but there is a way that you actually can have a positive effect on the environment and maintain it in a positive way. But unfortunately, I think, you know, we need to sort of focus on education to get there.

Rose Kerr: In terms of those things that, you know, Aboriginal people have been doing to maintain biodiversity, what is one of the things that you think that we should kind of try to encourage and reinstate to make sure that it’s happening now?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Yeah, I think, you know, a major thing is just minimising your footprint. You know whether or not you sort of are buying houses that are already built instead of new subdivisions and new developments is a major, a major thing.

In terms of,you know, if you are walking in the bush, keep to the tracks, you know, don’t don’t take dogs and other domesticated animals into the bush. And I guess connect with the seasons of Noongar boodja. So, on Noongar country in the southwest here, we have six seasons and generally they align with breeding patterns, flowering seasons, and all the different things which we will be able to see what different species need during that time. And then that’s that’s a way that you can understand and respect those things and leave them be, because those specific species need that time within that season.

**Cue music (short theme)

Rose Kerr: Just to let you know, as we record this podcast, we are in the season of Djilba – the season of conception. I’ll let Elisha explain further.

**Cue music (short theme)

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: And so basically that’s the season of conception, after the season of fertility, which is Makuru. And next, in probably about two to three weeks from now, we might start transitioning into Kambarang, which is the season of birth.

Rose Kerr: Have you always had a strong connection to the environment?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Yes, I always have. When I was a little boy, I, I guess I grew up in the bush. You know, my mom, she used to run an Aboriginal tourism company in Mandurah. And so I used to do a lot of things, I was doing a lot of cooking and dance and we used to go out and do tours in the bush, which was really exciting. And then say, when I was younger boy, she used to be heavily involved in the Rottnest Island Board Authority, so for Wadjemup, and I to go over with her and be sort of left my own devices. I would snorkel and swim and I guess I always thought, ‘Oh, I’m one with the ocean and the land’. And when I grew up, I sort of realised that, you know, that is because of my identity as, as a Traditional Owner as a Noongar person.

Rose Kerr: Definitely. Do you find that the values of your connection to land and as a Traditional Owner of the land, kind of go hand-in-hand with conservation points of view, or are there sometimes points of difference?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Well, I feel that they do go hand-in-hand, but a lot of the time, you know, cultural perspective is completely overlooked in conservation.When you’re talking about a cultural perspective of conservation, you’re looking at everything as a WHOLE picture. There’s no segmented sections where, you know, you’ve got like this silo effect where you’ve got all different areas of conservation that don’t communicate with each other because, you know, in that Family structure, and and the Totem structure of Noongar culture, everybody has a role or responsibility to look after the specific species or item that is given to them, and then everything that relates to that. Whereas, you know, a lot of the time now, things are only being looked at from a small perspective. And so that’s probably the difference.

Rose Kerr: Yeah. Do you have an animal that is your Totem that you are responsible for?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: So I unfortunately, was never given a Totem, which we say ‘Boranga’ and it sort of is told that that Boranga will come to you and present itself. I feel that my responsibility is a lot wider than just one species, unfortunately, and I’m very heavily connected to the water, I am connected to fire, and the trees and all the little plants, and all the little animals, and so I guess you know, I do have responsibility to care for all things. Which is a big job.

Rose Kerr: Yeah, no kidding. Do you find that, people in general – so part of your job is talking to people visiting the national parks, I assume sometimes? Do you find that people have a connection to the environment? Or is that something that you have to kind of talk to them about?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Yeah, a lot of the time, people are sort of visiting parks to try and find a connection, but they don’t necessarily usually understand what that connection is. Unfortunately, a lot of the the ways of the world is sort of like, a take take take society, whereas like a lot of people they do think that they can, you know, come and they take and they don’t have to give anything back. I guess they don’t understand the effects that they could potentially be having on so many different things that are that are greater than themselves. So you know, if I do get the opportunity to talk to visitors in the park, you know, I tendto sort of try to talk to them about really small, little species, like tiny little orchids or tiny little sun dews, or little things that, you know, you could potentially be crushed if you’re walking around and the importance of ants and different stuff. And, and I think that, you know, that gives a bit of a grounding to people when you’re going okay, it’s not just what’s up here. It’s every, every little thing that has a purpose. And that needs to be respected as well.

Rose Kerr: Yeah. How do you encourage someone, say if a listener was going to go out into the bush and spend some time there, is there a way you would recommend kind of trying to take everything in and forming that connection?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Yeah, so we have a Noongar word, which is called, we say, Darnih, which is ‘deep listening’. And so what I recommend to visitors to the bushes just to find a nice spot and sit down there, whether it be by a stream or on a rock or somewhere where you’re not going to be bitten by ants. And, and then just listen, listen to the sounds of the birds, listen to the wind moving through the leaves, and then just spend that time to be fully immersed in them. And you know, a lot of the time, that might be where you’ll find something different about yourself, when you’re listening to the bush.

Rose Kerr: That’s beautiful. Do you have a favourite place to visit?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: I do have a favourite place to visit – pretty much anywhere with water. Yeah, that’s where I feel deeply connected. But my favourite place to visit is probably John Forest National Park, when the water’s flowing and the beautiful smells of the fresh water.

Rose Kerr: So good.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: A the moment in Djilba transitioning into Kambarang, we’ve got the wildflower season and so everything is emerging. And it’s just beautiful.

Rose Kerr: We’re gonna take a little bit of a break and have a look at some, I guess, a little bit silly questions. So feel free to take these as lightheartedly as you’d like. First up, we’ve askeda few people actually, and I’m interested in your opinion, although I think that I might know it, but would you rather work with animals or people?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Animals.

Rose Kerr: Yeah (both laugh).

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: No brainer.

Rose Kerr: Do you have a favourite native animal?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Um, my favourite native animal would have to be a little Mandarda, which is a pygmy possum. Oh, The Western pygmy possum. And they’re so adorable. The smallest possum in the world.

Rose Kerr: How small are they?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Ah, oh, well, they probably grow about, maybe, two inches at full growth as an adult size.

Rose Kerr: Wow.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: I mean, they’re only native to the Southwest, Noongar Boodjar.

Rose Kerr: Wow, that’s so impressive. Do we have any ideas of why they might only be found here?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: I guess. There’s a whole lot of things, I think the way that species developed, climate change, and then the habitats specific to what they need. In the southwest here, Noongar Boodjar, we have the the biggest biodiversity hotspot, more than anywhere else in the world. And therefore you’ve got, you know, so many species of beautiful flowering plants. Mandarda needs the nectar from plant species. So like banksias, hakeas, and all different beautiful types of plants. Um, so that’s probably why that isolated to here.

Rose Kerr: Yeah, because there needs to hear the needs. Oh, so cute. All right, well, thinking about that then, do you have a favourite plant?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Ooh, favourite plant. So, I’ll have to think about that. I do have probably do have a favourite plant. Right now actually, my favourite plant is djirp, which is the native lemongrass. So if you go north towards the Pilbara and then further up, there’s an abundance of native lemongrass. Although when you come to Noongar Boodjar it’s mostly isolated to the more arid areas and then through Kattamoorda, the Darling Range. And because of the high amount of disturbance we only have very small populations. And so you see a little plants speckled across and it’s just the most beautiful thing. Fluffy little seeds, and it’s beautiful, and I make a night of tea out of the leaves. And so that’s that’s why it’s one of my favourite.

Rose Kerr: Well that was one of the questions that actually we wanted to ask. If you have a favourite edible plant that you can find.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: So my favourite edible plant, oh jeez. A snack for right now would probably be the roots of the yanjet, which is the bulrushes. And so basically, they have to be dug up from the ground and they grow in wetlands and swampy areas, and they were heavily farmed by Noongar people, they used to use fire to control the amount. And nowadays, they’re looked at as a weed in water sources because there is no population control, because they’re not being eaten. Yeah, it’s a high amount of starch and it’s like a central for traditional Noongar diet. It tastes a little bit like … radish and the green part of the watermelon. Like when you go for the delicious and then you’re like, oh yeah what’s that flavour. That’s what it tastes like. I really like it.

Rose Kerr: Yeah. Do you cook it or eat it raw?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Yeah, so you can eat it raw, or you can actually cook it. And the way that Noongar people used to cook back in the day, a lot of the time, would actually be to pound it up and then roll it in a ball, add different seeds and little native berries, and they actually cook it in the coals.

Rose Kerr: Wow.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: And they actually made that type of yanjet bread for some of the early explorers and they heavily documented it. And so, basically it’s quite exciting because the residue that’s left by the yandjet on grindstones of where they used to pound it up, has been dated back to roughly 27,000 years ago.

Rose Kerr: Wow.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Which makes it one of the oldest forms of bread in the world.

Rose Kerr: That’s incredible. I feel like that’s, that is history that we should all know. That is fascinating.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: It is! And it’s delicious.

Rose Kerr: Yeah, I mean, I believe you, that sounds great. This one is quite off topic, but, because you are a ranger …

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Yeah.

Rose Kerr: What colour Power Ranger would you like to be?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Oh, well, at the moment, I like wearing black but I probably have to say, pink.

Rose Kerr: Yeah, good.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Just to be extra.

Rose Kerr: I support that wholeheartedly (both laugh). When you’ve been out in the bush, which is the most unexpectedly dangerous animal or plant?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: I probably have to say, the most unexpectedly dangerous plant is a parrot bush. I don’t know if you know what a parrot bush is, but it’s a type of banksia – I think it’s Banksia sessiliss. And it’s lovely for harbouring little birds and the mandarda and little species because it’s got these beautiful flowers that are full of nectar and thorny leaves. And so it’s quite heavily protected, but it’s very spiky. And quite often, the dried leaves will attach themselves to your clothes. And then when you get in the car, yeah, it’s stabbing in the back …

Rose Kerr: Yep

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: … or it’s stabbing you in the leg. And, you know, and that’s probably the most painful part of my job walking through the bush to get to areas for surveys. But – in saying that everything has a purpose, and it is, it is very important.

Rose Kerr: Why do you think people should care about the native environment?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: I think that people should care about the native environment because it’s the very thing that keeps us alive. You know, in our Noongar way we have the Mother and the Father. So the Mother is the boodja, which is the land, and the Father is the ocean and the water. And so together, you know, they give us life to live on, on the earth. And so, you know, people do need to care about the environment, because without a healthy environment, we don’t have healthy people.

Rose Kerr: And what do you think is something that people can do to just help in a little way?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: I think what you can do to help is I guess, the biggest thing probably is just self-education. There’s so much information out there about different species, and then different information about the bush. So self-education, um, just go and connect with the bush you know, go on nice bush walks and understand what a healthy environment actually is supposed to look like. Because then that gives you an understanding of what is going wrong in areas. And the more the more you know, the more you KNOW. It gives you a wider understanding

Rose Kerr: And forming that understanding will probably help influence decisions later down the track and maybe hopefully, get people to care a bit more intrinsically.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Yeah. True. Yeah.

Rose Kerr: What’s a part of, I guess, your job or your industry that could maybe improve a little bit, maybe to do the job better or something you’ve just started working on that, as that goes on, it will make things a bit easier.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: I think that um, probably in the conservation industry as a whole, I think the, I guess, involvement with Aboriginal people and traditional cultural ecological values, entrenched into scientific conservation knowledge, will probably be the area that I feel needs to be improved. It’s improved a huge amount since the beginning of, I guess what you would say is, scientific conservation.

Rose Kerr: Yeah.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Because it back in the day, you know, I guess we weren’t around or included in any of those sorts of decisions and understandings. And so I think, yeah, the involvement is probably the area that that is, needs to be improved.

Rose Kerr: Yeah, we have a lot of listeners who are scientists or interested in science and certainly people who are interested in the environment. For those people who may be then go, ‘oh, that is a blind spot for me. I want to understand more about, you know, culture and make sure I’m including thato, is there a why or place where they can find more information?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Like, what I’d recommend for people that are wanting to widen their understanding of Aboriginal cultural knowledge, especially in conservation, is just go, go an ask people. Whether or not you live in a community and you, you know, you might know Elders or you go go to events – so alot of the time, you know, we have, obviously not during COVID-19 time, but we have alot of community events, NAIDOC Week, Sorry Day, and different things like that. And, you know, there’s always people around that would be happy to answer questions, as long as, I guess you approach that question asking with a mutual respect for the person that you’re asking the question for. But, you know, Aboriginal people, unfortunately are born educators. And so we, you know, we were sort of born fighting to be included, and to share our knowledge so that it brings about a mutual respect for the wider Australian people.

Rose Kerr: Can be exhausting answering questions all the time?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: It’s very exhausting. Yeah, quite exhausting. You know, obviously, it’s something that I that I do, it’s a normal thing.

Rose Kerr: Yeah.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: I did find with the Black Lives Matter movement, which is so important, but a lot of people started reaching out to me and asking me quite serious questions. And I think it was the whole thing was very emotionally draining on me because it brought up a lot of, I guess, trauma that was laying in waiting. And so that was extremely exhausting. And I couldn’t answer most of the questions.

Rose Kerr: Yeah.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: I just physically couldn’t, mentally couldn’t. You know, and so, you know, do need to understand that people do have limits as well.

Rose Kerr: Yeah. And just, everyone’s a person, have some understanding.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: We’re all just trying to live and have a better life so you know …

Rose Kerr: Totally. What is an unrelated skill that you’ve learned in your job? Okay, if you don’t have an answer – I’m trying to think what my example would be. I’ve lent my about like, email tone and trying to figure out how to be professional but friendly because that’s part of my job is, like I would have had to with you, cold email people and figure out how to come across as myself but also professional.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: I suppose, you know, that sort of a lot of stuff that I worked out in a previous job. So I actually used to be your hairdresser for

Rose Kerr: Oh, wow.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Eleven years.

Rose Kerr: That’s a long time cutting hair! Did you enjoy it?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: I did. Yeah, I really loved it. But I had a calling to give back to the environment, to the land. So that’s what what drew me to conservation. I always did do other stuff but it was sort of, you know, it was that professional movement that I that I needed for myself. But during that time, a lot of it was answering phones and appointments, and it’s so easy to sound nasty on the phone. Like you have to be overly positive and friendly otherwise it’s incredibly easy because, a lot of the language that we use as people is body language.

Rose Kerr: Yeah

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: And you can’t see those things over email and or over the phone and obviously email’s a lot harder because you don’t even have the voice. So, um, yeah, it’s quite, I think sometimes a little smiley face, which might not be professional to some people but I think it goes a long way to make it go from like, ‘Oh, this guy’s really nasty and to the point’ to um ‘Oh, it’s friendly’.

Rose Kerr: Yeah. Great. How did you decide to leave hairdressing?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: The way that I decided to leave hairdressing and, I guess transition into conservation jobs – I’d been thinking about it for a long time, and I’ve always dreamt of the potential for, you know, an Indigenous Ranger of job that was, you know, Indigenous specific, because obviously, you know, a lot of a lot of the things that I that I care about are, you know, cultural values, and then including them in conservation and in everyday life. And so I was always like, ‘Oh, I wish there was like some sort of Aboriginal Ranger program here, but there wasnt – and and then all of a sudden there was! And I was like, ‘I’m packing up, putting down with scissors and off I go!’. And so I think, like, the first round of applications for that position was actually highly competitive. And you know, luckily enough, I had a lot of experience working in different aspects of planting and volunteering capacity over quite a long period that I was able to be selected. And yeah, it’s, it’s fantastic. I still cut some people’s hair. But it’s not something that I feel like I’ve lost out on moving away from. It’s still something that I love but at the moment, yeah, I definitely love conservation.

Rose Kerr: Yeah. So you were kind of working, doing the hairdressing but always dabbling in conservation until your moment came.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Yeah.

Rose Kerr: Oh, I’m so glad it did.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: And it came. Yeah, it’s been so exciting. I love it.

Rose Kerr: And to finish up with, have you brought along a fun fact?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: So my fun fact would be about micro-bats. So micro-bats are a small animal, and they’re one of the major pollinators of plant species in the world and very exciting. And we have a huge abundance of different species here in Western Australia in the southwest, Noongar Boodja, and they’re absolutely beautiful. But one fun fact about micro-bats is they’re actually able to freeze an embryo like most mammals. So say if it’s, if they are inseminated from mating, they are able to go ‘Oh, there’s no food around, I’ll just put that on hold’.

Rose Kerr: Whoa.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: And the exciting thing is that once that, when they actually mate, they will keep a reserve of semen to the side just in case that something happens to that foetus, the embryo, and then they can re-inseminate themselves in their own time.

Rose Kerr: That’s incredible.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: I would have to say that’s probably my biggest fun fact.

Rose Kerr: Yeah, that’s a very fun fact.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Oh, like that’s crazy.

Rose Kerr: Yeah, well, it’s almost like humans – we’ve only just invented like, sperm banks, but animals have been doing it for ages!

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: They just got their own.

Rose Kerr: Oh, that’s quite fantastic.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: And just to think that a tiny little micro-bat, it has the space and you know, to be me that, and the complex body to be able to do that.

Rose Kerr: How small are they?

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Well, they range in different sizes. So there’s a few different types – I won’t list them all or we’ll be here all day. But generally, the smallest ones will be potentially about the size of a little pygmy possum. So a couple of inches with a, with a wingspan. That’s all I don’t really know, I don’t want to say anything that’s wrong … but anyway, this small. And generally, the smaller ones, they fly faster. And they might have a, a lower frequency that our human ears can actually hear.

Rose Kerr: Wow.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: And the larger ones, they fly a bit slower. And their frequency is quite high. So we actually can’t …

Rose Kerr: Yeah,

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: That is so cool.

And so you might, when you’re laying in bed, depending on where you live, I know I used to live in an apartment in Coburg at one point and we had a micro-bat used to fly past the window every night. And you could hear it going ‘beep beep beep ‘ and so that indicated that it was probably a Guild Wattle bat which is a little tiny black bat and you can hear them.

Rose Kerr: I’ve never known that and I’ve I grew up on a bush block and I’ve always thought that I had a really good connection to animals – I’ve never heard of micro-bats!

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: Oh, wow. Well, there you go.

Rose Kerr: I’ve really learned something. I can’t wait to tell my dad he’ll be so excited (laughs). Well, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. It was absolutely delightful.

Elisha Jacobs-Smith: No worries. I enjoyed it.

**Cue music (outro theme)

Rose Kerr: Thanks for listening to the Particle Podcast. You can find more of our content on all of the socials, as well as at Particle is powered by Scitech and everything we make is made in the wonderful science hub of Western Australia, on Whadjuk country.

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