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Feb 4, 2015

Bandicoot Numbers are Growing!

Eastern Barred Bandicoot
Eastern Barred Bandicoot

It was a busy end to the year with our last trapping session taking place in the last week of November, before the hot summer months.  We were expecting to catch a few more bandicoots, and to allow for this, we increased our staff numbers to assist. This meant instead of running 3 sections to clear all the traps, we ran 5 sections, which allowed us to release the animals as quickly as possible back into their grasslands. Trapping is an essential part of the program - it helps us to check on the number of bandicoots (and sometimes other species!), monitor breeding success and carry out health checks. The traps are specially designed to catch the animals safely and without harm, and we love releasing them back to freedom afterwards.

Conservation Volunteers Australia’s Project Officer, Travis Scicchitano reports: “Last time we trapped at Woodlands Historic Park it took us two trap sessions over two weeks to get the fantastic number of 56 individual bandicoots caught on site.  This time around it only took us 4 days to catch 57 individual bandicoots!  We beat our record, and what an effort - luckily we had the extra help as we caught bandicoots all over the site.  We captured a nice balance of sexes with 30 males and 27 females.  Five of the females were carrying a total of 6 pouch young, and 17 more females showed signs of young recently vacating the pouch. This means there must be quite a few new animals out there ready to be caught at our next monitoring session. We are estimating that there are around 150 bandicoots calling Woodlands home, which is brilliant.”

We have found, however, that there was an increase in possums caught - 205 to be exact!  According to Travis, “Due to the large amount of possums in our traps when monitoring the bandicoots, new trap designs are being trialled. Not only do we catch a large number of brush tailed possums but they also set off traps externally without getting caught. This significantly reduces our chances of catching our target species, which means we can't gather the much needed data on breeding and numbers within Woodlands. We’re currently running smaller traps with modified entrances of various sizes to see what size hole is small enough to deter possum entry and allow bandicoots to enter. Every night traps are set with the doors secured open to allow animals in and out.  We are using our same bait mixture for normal monitoring for consistency. Then the cameras are turned on to record from 9pm to 5.30am. On average we are getting around 100 videos a night. Here are some examples of our videos - Bandicoot and Curious Possum.”

So far we have found that possums are very good at getting into small spaces but the good news is we are getting closer by slowly reducing the trap’s entrance size daily.  This is allows the bandicoots to get in, but becomes a real struggle for the possums. Travis says, “In saying this, we know possums are still going to interfere with the traps and set them off occasionally, but if we can stop catching them that would be great. This will at least eliminate the need to release them, which can be tricky and also very time consuming to clean the traps.  It will also speed up our monitoring sessions and give us a greater percentage of traps to catch our bandicoots improving our data and research greatly.”

Once again, a huge thanks to everyone involved from Conservation Volunteers Australia, Parks Victoria, volunteers, donors and all members of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team who have assisted with making this possible.

We hope to bring you more videos over the coming updates, so stay tuned!

Health checks
Health checks
Volunteers checking the traps
Volunteers checking the traps

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Jan 20, 2015

Creating Habitat for Cockatoos

Carnaby
Carnaby's Black Cockatoo

Thank you for donating to Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA), enabling us to continue supporting the restoration projects with Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre (Kaarakin) over the past three months.  Our teams of volunteers from all walks of life have made the trek up into the hills to help with this important conservation effort to create habitat for the endangered Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo and the vulnerable Forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoo.

Our volunteer teams have also been active in Beelu National Park, which is adjacent to Kaarakin’s property.  The teams were unstoppable, planting native tree seedlings along the creek line up until Christmas.  CVA has had 221 fantastic volunteers at the site so far - they have planted 3,740 native plants that cover a massive 2,355m2. They have also cleared 6,242m2 of noxious weeds and repaired 300m of conservation fencing. Our volunteers are keen to return this year and continue making a difference with your support.

Habitat for the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo and the Forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoo is fast disappearing with urban development and climate change.  These cockatoos provide an important link in the ecosystem of the south west of Western Australia, which is a biodiversity hot spot.  The activities that have been achieved at Kaarakin will directly improve the habitat for the black cockatoos and will - in time - create habitat hollows for the birds to nest in.  As the native plants mature, they will also provide an important food source for these beautiful birds. It’s a long term plan but the need for action now is urgent – we have to restore habitat to help these birds survive,

Jill Stryk, the Environmental Officer at Kaarakin said, “it was fantastic to get the planting at zone 3 finished this year and we couldn’t have done it without the volunteers from CVA”.

CVA would like to thank our supporters and volunteers.  Without your valuable assistance, CVA couldn’t help out with this important cause.  If you are able to donate again we would really appreciate it – every donation 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.

Volunteers in action
Volunteers in action
New seedlings doing well!
New seedlings doing well!
Lunchtime!
Lunchtime!

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Jan 15, 2015

Taking Care of the Elders

Tasmanian Devil
Tasmanian Devil

The completed ‘Retirement Village’ now stretches approximately 600m across the hill of Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. The only remaining task before devils can inhabit their new home is to install water facilities and a range of native vegetation trees and shrubs. Irrigation of fresh drinking water is naturally of prime importance as is the creation of native habitat. Once these vital tasks have been completed we will see devils on the ‘waiting list’ released into this enclosure to begin their lives of leisure. Before this can eventuate however, financial contributions are continuing to be sought - big or small they will all help to bring this project to a close while a new life for the devils will just be beginning. 

As we wait for the final stages of the Retirement Village to be completed, we are looking to the next stage of our devil conservation efforts. We will be working with a number of groups to source new programs to support our ongoing devil initiatives, and we look forward to keeping you up-to-date with these in the coming months.

Why do we choose to support the Tasmanian Devil? This iconic species is under threat and in just 18 years its rating has changed from ‘common and stable’ to ‘endangered’. Their dramatic population decline over the last decade is due to a fatal, contagious cancer — devil facial tumour disease. There is currently no known vaccination, treatment or way to detect the disease, before the tumours occur. According to some predictions, the devil facial tumour disease could wipe out wild Tasmanian devils in less than 40 years.

As the facial tumour disease is spread through contact, separating these populations is of utmost importance. Creating the Retirement Village at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary was a significant first step towards preventing the interaction from diseased populations to clean populations. Colin Jackson, CEO of Conservation Volunteers Australia says, “CVA is committed to making a meaningful contribution to a sustainable future for the Tasmanian Devil and we encourage everyone to do the same.”

Thank you for your continued support of the Tasmanian Devil - your help is needed now more than ever as we move to the next phase of our goal to give the Tasmanian Devil a Wild Future.

Retirement Village - fence complete!
Retirement Village - fence complete!
Devil Dens ready & waiting for the new residents
Devil Dens ready & waiting for the new residents
Completed enclosure at Bonorong
Completed enclosure at Bonorong

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