Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre founder thrilled to have parasite named after her

June Butcher and Lindy Brice . Lindy helped to identify a new parasite that affects a particular species of bird and the parasite was named after Kanyana Founder June Butcher. Picture: David Baylis. d482517c
June Butcher and Lindy Brice . Lindy helped to identify a new parasite that affects a particular species of bird and the parasite was named after Kanyana Founder June Butcher. Picture: David Baylis. d482517c

FOR some, sharing a name with a parasite might not be affirming but for June Butcher, having one named after her is a “great honour”.

The founder of Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre recently became the namesake of a new coccidia parasite discovered in silvereyes admitted to the Lesmurdie facility.

Known as the Isospora butcherae, the microscopic organism was discovered by Kanyana’s microscopy co-ordinator Lindy Brice who has been involved in a study with Murdoch University scientists since 2012.

As the research paper was being compiled, Mrs Butcher stepped down as chair of Kanyana so it became fitting to name the parasite after her.

The 82-year-old Kalamunda resident said she was “thrilled” and that it was a “great honour” because a parasite was just as much wildlife as any other species.

“People involved in wildlife don’t have the luxury of choosing which wildlife to care about and which to ignore,” she said.

“All wildlife is special, including parasitic bacteria.

“Indeed our microscopic wildlife makes it possible for all other plant and animal life to exist.”

Mrs Butcher, who grew up in Pakistan caring for mongooses, myrnas and songbirds, said there were several types of coccidia parasites that commonly infected a variety of animals but few caused disease.

“There is not much information regarding their prevalence in wild birds in Australia, hence the current research focus,” she said.

“To date the collaboration between Murdoch scientists and Kanyana’s Lindy Brice has resulted in 13 new coccidian species being described from reptiles and birds.

“Its importance lies in the deepening of our understanding of the interplay between micro-organisms and larger animals.

“Each discovery adds another brick to our wall of knowledge and leads on to further discoveries and deeper understanding.”

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