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Nov 7, 2018

Spring Monitoring Season

Eastern Barred Bandicoot
Eastern Barred Bandicoot

Spring monitoring at Woodlands Historic Park and Hamilton Community Parklands

Since our last monitoring events in autumn this year, we have been hoping for rain to help our grasslands come along. Thankfully, Hamilton Community Parklands has had some decent rain and the grasslands are in good condition. Unfortunately, Woodlands Historic Park had gone through a dry winter, as well as dry previous summer months. This meant monitoring still had to be done to see how our bandicoot population was fairing.

Woodlands Historic Park trapping took place during the month of October. Approximately 230 traps were set for four nights of surveying. This equates to 23 kilometres to be walked at first light every morning, all in less than four hours. A massive task. This is achieved by breaking the property into six teams to be able to process all the traps effectively. Zoos Victoria play a huge role in assisting the event by providing trained bandicoot handlers. Along with all the volunteers who help, the handlers enter the data gathered electronically, hand over processing gear, and clean and reset the traps.

Earlier in autumn we caught 45 bandicoots. The hope for this monitoring session was not to have the ant population decline during the dry period which would significantly affect their food supply. The good news is that a total of 50 bandicoots were processed. A positive increase from the previous season. 20 of these were cleanskins (never been caught before),32 male,18 female, and the females were carrying a total of 27 pouch young. This is exciting, as at our last event no pouch young were recorded.

The most positive outcome was that the bandicoots were in a healthy condition. The success of bandicoots breeding strongly depends on the quality of their habitat conditions. So, it was fantastic to see them healthy and having adapted so well to their current habitat. We are also very hopeful, that when the grassland habitat starts to restore itself, there should be an increase in their numbers. For now though they are doing well in this scenario. 

Hamilton's update will have to be in our next report, as they trap in mid-November. All the signs are looking good for a positive monitoring session. The habitat looks fantastic, so there is plenty of grass nesting sites and plenty of food for the bandicoots. In recent spotlighting events there have been great numbers recorded, of both adult and juvenile animals. Catching them however, is still a challenge.

Woodlands and Hamilton both have plenty of brush tail possums which get to the traps early, and they often set the traps off, getting caught in the process. But we are still hopeful to catch a good number of bandicoots to see how the population is progressing. During the winter there has also been plenty of upgrades done on the properties predator proof fence, weed control and habitat improvement.

So all in all, it has been a great start to the Spring monitoring season

Once again, great work everyone. Thanks for those involved from Conservation Volunteers Australia, Parks Victoria, and all the volunteers, along with the members of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team, who have all assisted in making this project possible.

Travis Scicchitano, Woodlands Project Officer

Eastern Barred Bandicoot
Eastern Barred Bandicoot
Oct 17, 2018

Thank You for Supporting our Wombats!

Thanks for your incredibly generous support of our wombat program over the past few years. Our program is ending now, but the part we have played in the development of a simple survey technique and in training local volunteers and community groups in mange surveying is invaluable. With your help, we have now created a huge community of people who can assist in identifying wombats with mange around the state – what a wonderful legacy!

Throughout the course of this project, we surveyed 2,005 wombats, assessed 1,725 for mange and calculated that for the sites we surveyed, the average mange prevalence was 2.3%, which is great news for wombats!

As the program moves into the next phase, from surveying to management, our project partner The University of Tasmania, is now conducting safety trials on a new drug that will potentially provide a long acting, single dose treatment for mange affected wombats. If successful, this will be a real game changer in the way mange in managed in the wild. We look forward to seeing the results at the end of the safety trials.

Once again, thank you for supporting our project and helping to provide a future for the wombats.

Aug 16, 2018

Creating More Habitat for Rewilding

One objective of the Rewilding the Desert program is to create more habitat for our local native wildlife. At our wonderful Salvana Conservation Reserve we are working hard to restore and rehabilitate approximately 400 ha of this property that was historically cleared or modified for agricultural use.

The aim of these revegetation projects is to improve the conservation value of the reserve and the region, and to provide biodiversity and climate change resilience for threatened species like the South-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (RTBC) (Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne) and the Malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata). The RTBC has a highly specialised diet, feeding exclusively on seeds of Desert and Brown Stringybark’s (Eucalyptus baxteri and E. arenacea), and the Buloke (Allocasuarina leuhmannii). The National Recovery Plan lists a shortage of food as a key threat to the RTBC’s.

In these projects our revegetation works will:

  • help link the West and Central blocks of the Little Desert National Park to create a 132,000 ha biodiversity corridor by reconnecting fragmented patches of remnant vegetation, benefiting local biodiversity and threatened species alike,
  • plant Desert Stringybarks for the RTBC’s to feed on in the future; and
  • help protect the large old Desert Stringybark tree. These large old trees produce prolific amounts of seed and are therefore a critical feeding resource for the birds locally.

At the reserve we have four major revegetation projects currently underway totalling 171 hectares or 422 acres (see map) to help achieve these objectives. This year we:

  • Targeted 84 ha (208 acres) across three project areas for revegetation. These sites were prepared for planting by slashing and spraying rows between 4m and 10m apart.
  • Direct seeded 67 ha (165 acres) with a mix of native species. This involved towing a specialised machine down the pre-prepared rows that creates a furrow and sows the seed within the furrow.
  • Planted 9,408 trees and shrubs across the sites with the help of our participants contributing 556 hours of volunteering

To our amazing supporters and donors, we would again like to say thank you! Without your support we cannot continue this critical project and help conserve Australia’s weird, wonderful and highly threatened native wildlife.

Volunteers tree planting at Salvana
Volunteers tree planting at Salvana
Salvana revegetation overview map
Salvana revegetation overview map
RTBC flock flies overhead during planting
RTBC flock flies overhead during planting

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