Happy New Year - we hope you had a great holiday season! We are looking forward to another year of bandicoot conservation and bringing you updates on our progress across our three reserves - Woodlands Historic Park, Hamilton and the new site at Philip Island.
We are in the midst of a very hot summer period here in Victoria. We’ve had a couple of rainfall events but nothing consistent, which means it’s been quite dry on average. This provides many challenges when looking after our bandicoot reserves. Ensuring fire breaks are maintained is extremely important as fire could lead to a major catastrophe. To help reduce this risk and keep our bandicoots safe, part of our fire management plan includes reducing fuel around the reserves and inside the fire breaks.
This time of year also gives us an opportunity to remove many weed species that compete with our native grasslands and our volunteers have been a fantastic help with such a large task. Fence maintenance checks and repairs are also completed during this period to ensure we are well prepared ahead of the winter months.
Conservation Volunteers Australia’s Project Officer, Travis Scicchitano reports: “At Woodlands we have been lucky to have a Green Army team assisting us on site. This team of nine members has been learning all about conservation from their supervisor, through educational training and practical hands-on experience. They have done an amazing job and we’re grateful for their help and enthusiasm. Over 70 hectares of serrated tussock have been sprayed. This is a noxious weed grass that can take over the native species. They have also built two, one-hectare exclusion fence plots. These keep the rabbits and kangaroos out, which gives the vegetation a chance to return. The team has also planted around 10,000 native grasses and wild flowers. The wild flowers are very small at the moment, but come winter and spring there is going to be a beautiful burst of colour. With the help of our volunteers, they have all made a significant contribution in protecting and enhancing the rare grasslands and bandicoot habitat.”
In December last year, we relocated six bandicoots (five male and one female) to the new reserve on Phillip Island, bringing the total to 67. Travis says: “Recent monitoring has shown the bandicoots to be thriving in their new home, with signs of digging and movement across the entire site. There is also evidence of breeding on-site and we’re all excited to see the new population growing so quickly!”. Stay tuned for further updates in our next report as we enter into our monitoring season.
It has been a great start to the year and we would like to thank our generous GlobalGiving donors for their continued support. Big thanks also goes to everyone involved from Conservation Volunteers Australia, Parks Victoria and all members of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team who have assisted with making this possible.
The last three months have seen our volunteers face some unusual weather for Perth. With a milder summer, we have had the opportunity to do some planting in wetland sites around the Swan Canning Riverpark, a rare treat for this time of year! The seedlings planted throughout these tributaries filter storm and road water runoff before it enters the rivers. Carnaby’s Cockatoos, as with most birds, have a phenomenal memory when it comes to revisiting clean water sources and our volunteers have planted over 4,400 native seedlings along the waterways and catchments.
Although we have had a milder summer so far, we have still had several warm days and our teams have managed to produce considerable conservation outcomes at Baigup Wetland, despite the higher temperatures. Baigup Wetland is a significant remnant parcel of bushland, which forms part of the Swan River Flood Plain. The area has an abundance of birdlife and we have visited this site regularly over the last couple of years.
Baigup Wetlands Interest Group Coordinator, Penny was amazed with the results achieved, “I am astounded at the amount Tim’s CVA team managed to get done in such hot and steamy conditions. They did a sterling job. Their weeding efforts also exposed stakes that no longer had a living plant next to them, and these have now been removed. This area is coming on very nicely now with some well-established shrubs, ground covers and trees surviving well.”
We would like to thank our generous GlobalGiving donors and our volunteers. Without your support, we wouldn’t be able to make a difference. If you are able to donate again, we would really appreciate it – every effort will help us to continue achieving these great conservation results and give these beautiful birds a better chance at coming back from the brink of extinction. As we move out of summer and into autumn, our teams will start to prepare sites for winter planting.
Our Launceston team has been assisting with the Wild Devil Recovery (WDR) project in Tasmania’s North East. This project is part of the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program and is just one part of the recovery of this iconic Australian species.
Throughout this year, 33 devils were released back into the wild at Mt William National Park and the wukalina area. These devils were monitored by satellite for their movements and locations to learn more about the animal’s behaviour, and assess the success of the release. In past releases, we sadly had road kill fatalities as the devils went about defining their new home range. As a result, we trialled some new techniques in an attempt to reduce unnecessary devil deaths. In November 2017, the team were proud to announce that after several months since the last release, there have been no reported road kill of any of the released devils. Great job team!
Our volunteers recently assisted with the dismantling of some devil releasing yards. We quickly discovered that devil releasing yards are pretty specialised contraptions. They have to prevent devils from climbing over the fence, digging under the fence and chewing through the fence. At the same time, the yards need to make the devils feel relaxed as it is important the devils get used to the surroundings before being set free. Our volunteers armed themselves with wire-cutters, pliers and crowbars to pack up the yard for relocation to another site. We disconnected chicken wire, rolled up rubber ground matting, dismantled galvanised panels and stacked them for a forklift/truck to take away.
A scientist working on the WDR project, Mr Lee, was there to guide us through our tasks. Over three days of volunteering, we learned an enormous amount about devils from Mr Lee and the highs and lows of the broader devil program. Doug, one of our long-time volunteers, jumped at the chance to assist: “it is wonderful to get inside information about the current state of the devils and ask questions directly to the scientists, but most of all, I love being able to lend a hand to the recovery of our devils”.
New volunteer, Ross, is a new Tasmanian having just moved over from New Zealand. Ross had only heard about devils, and didn’t hesitate to take the opportunity to volunteer on this project: “to get up close and learn about these amazing marsupials was an opportunity too good to miss. Being outdoors in the middle of a National Park helping the devils – life is good!”.
But the success of this project is just one small win in a much bigger challenge and we have more projects in store next year. For now, though, Mr Lee and the Save the Tasmanian Devil team, as well as all of us at Conservation Volunteers Australia would like to thank our generous GlobalGiving donors for your ongoing support. You really have made a difference to the survival of this iconic species.
We hope you have a safe and happy holiday season, and we look forward to bringing you more good news in 2018.