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Apr 29, 2014

Devils Retirement Home Nears Completion

Volunteers securing steel droppers on the fence
Volunteers securing steel droppers on the fence

The ‘Taking Care of the Elders’ Program is in the final construction stages and we are now approaching completion of the enclosure. This large ‘retirement village’ is now taking shape and will be ready for its Tasmanian Devil residents soon!

The fencing posts and rail have now been installed and secured to ensure stability. Recycled corrugated iron sheets are being used to form the fences. This roofing iron has been assembled and cut to size; however we will need more iron to fully complete the enclosure. The 24 devil dens are also complete and ready to accommodate the ageing carnivorous marsupials.

Thanks to recent donations, Conservation Volunteers has been able to purchase the essential, but most expensive, materials we needed for the project, these being wire netting and steel mesh. They have now been laid on almost all of the perimeter fence and internal walls of the enclosure; this will ensure no digging devil escapees (nobody can get out - nobody can get in! The Devils are safe from predators).  

"Together, the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary and Conservation Volunteers Australia have enjoyed a very cohesive working relationship over past years, which has culminated in a number of successful on-ground projects being undertaken and completed. Our latest project, 'Taking Care of The Elders' has provided inspiration and the opportunity for the community to become involved in the wellbeing and future of the Tasmanian Devil”, says Conservation Volunteers’ Regional Coordinator, Amy Bailey.

One of the major reasons for the project’s ongoing success is that the focus of the project has captured the imagination and people, no matter what their skill level, can make a practical contribution towards a really important wildlife issue - with none bearing dearer than the Tasmanian Devil. Volunteers have really embraced the idea of constructing a large ‘Retirement Village’ to humanely house older members of the Tasmanian Devil insurance population - those that are no longer required for breeding purposes, but still need a safe place to live out their lives.  

According to Amy, “Volunteering in Wildlife Sanctuaries does provide a unique experience. When projects such as this are created, with real outcomes, with real purpose, there are many people from all walks of life, who wish to share the commitment and responsibility for the preservation of our wildlife into the future and beyond." 

Progress is good and the volunteers have made massive contributions of time and effort to get to this stage, but financial assistance is still urgently required to complete the enclosure. We still need to buy materials include roofing iron for the perimeter fence, several thousand roofing screws, and truck loads of mulch to provide a comfortable and low maintenance ground cover for the ‘retirement village’.  Our volunteers are ready and committed to help with installation as soon as we can buy what we need.

Thank you for donating so far to help with this really unusual and much-needed project – we hope that you enjoy our update and the pictures of the volunteers using the materials that you have helped supply. Soon we’ll be sharing our next update, and we hope to be able to show you the Devils being transferred into their Retirement Village if we can make enough progress with funds to complete the project! Thank you again for your contribution to conservation.

Cutting the recycled iron to size
Cutting the recycled iron to size
It
It's tight security to protect the Devils!
The roofing iron is secured in place
The roofing iron is secured in place
Special thanks to the volunteers!
Special thanks to the volunteers!
Apr 7, 2014

Wombats, Warrens and Weeds

Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat
Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat

First of all, a very big thank you to everyone who has supported our Southern Hairy-nosed Wombats appeal so far. Your donations are already making a difference in our fight to save this iconic species.

The Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons) is one of three species of wombats – the smallest of the three. They live in complex burrow systems, using them to beat the harsh heat of the day.

According to Conservation Volunteers Australia’s State Manager in South Australia, Tricia Curtis, “What an amazing month of extremes the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombats have had at Brookfield Conservation Park. Temperatures over 50 degrees Celsius, bushfires nearby followed closely by flooding! Consequently, we, and the wombats, have been kept on our toes with what Mother Nature has been dealing us.”

This time of year the wombats have been lying low, keeping out of the heat to conserve as much energy as possible. When they do come out from their warrens, they are on the lookout for their favourite foods but unfortunately it is still limited. This is why we have had volunteer teams on the ground managing the competing weeds in areas where wombat burrows are. This provides the best chance for native grasses to recolonise.

From the funds recently donated, volunteers have been able to assist researchers with a vegetation survey and three wombat warren surveys – all of these help us to determine wildlife abundance and the effects of climate change on the region. Supporting these projects through Global Giving means the data collected is managed and processed quickly, providing immediate information that can be used to guide future surveys. This ensures both volunteer and researcher time is used to the maximum benefit, which is extremely rewarding to know we are getting the best value for our wonderful supporters too.

Tricia is thrilled with the response of donors and the efforts of the volunteers who have been involved with this project so far, and is looking forward to the next steps: “We still urgently need your support as we’re hoping to raise enough funds to build our vegetation exclosures through autumn and winter. This will assist researchers with gathering data on grazing pressure from both native and non-native wildlife and will guide us on management of these species to ensure optimum food resources for native wildlife, including the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat.”

Thank you again for donating to the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat appeal. Your contribution is directly supporting the management and survival of this unique and much loved animal.

 

*Cover image courtesy of Rod Brunker
Volunteers Removing Weeds at Brookfield
Volunteers Removing Weeds at Brookfield
Rain Soaked Wombat at Brookfield
Rain Soaked Wombat at Brookfield
Survey of Wombat Warrens at Brookfield
Survey of Wombat Warrens at Brookfield

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Feb 10, 2014

Eastern Barred Bandicoot Babies are Here!

Bandicoots love the long grass!
Bandicoots love the long grass!

It’s been a busy summer at Woodlands Historic Park. The weather has thrown up a few challenges but our amazing volunteers have turned up in droves, even with very high temperatures of 40+ degrees!  Thanks to these volunteers, our Eastern Barred Bandicoot program has continued to kick goals and keep the habitat safe for our bandicoots. 

Conservation Volunteers Australia’s Project Officer, Travis Scicchitano, reports: “Countless fence patrols have stopped any major breaches on the fence.  Only recently one of our weekend teams discovered a large branch had fallen down on top of the perimeter fence.  They busily cut down the branch and reconstructed the fence back into its position and stopped any foxes getting a chance to make their way in.  A fantastic effort and without this continuous dedication, this program couldn’t survive.”

Since October no new animals have been released.  Travis says, “It’s time for them to breed on their own for a while - and I can assure you all they have been! Our last monitoring was done in the first week of December.  This monitoring week was aimed at trying to catch our first generation of bred and born bandicoots onsite.  These are called F1’s in science lingo!  The great news is that we caught two F1’s.  Both bandicoots were females and only weighing 170 grams, which is about the size of a small house mouse!  Tiny, but successfully out of the pouch and learning to become independent with mum by their side.  We also trapped mum and amazingly she had 3 new babies in her pouch about the size of a jelly bean!  This is very encouraging as it means the conditions and habitat are perfect for the bandicoots.  This year in April is when the next major trapping is planned and we should get a good indication on numbers - fingers crossed until then that they keep on breeding.”

Our volunteers have also been busily watering the grassland habitat they planted last year.  According to Travis, “These plants are coming along well with all the extra water over a dry Christmas period.  These plants should hopefully be at full size within a year and be ready for bandicoots to move in.”  Other program activities have been continuous weed removal throughout the reserve, giving our native grasses the best chance to flourish.

For the entire calendar year from January to December 2013, volunteers contributed 570 individual days to the project.  Travis comments, “This is an amazing effort – volunteers are making a huge difference. Once again, I would like to thank them all for putting in such a great effort and volunteering through all the tough conditions.”

Donations are making a significant difference as we can look to broaden our program, but we still have a long way to go. With further donations we hope to put in remote monitoring cameras, which we can use to record the bandicoots’ activity and numbers.  This would also enable us to stream our fury friends on the website for everyone to see. 

Thank you all very much for your support and kind donations - the bandicoots appreciate it and so do we! 

 

*Cover image courtesy of Richard Hill

Newborn Bandicoot with Travis
Newborn Bandicoot with Travis
Baby Eastern Barred Bandicoot
Baby Eastern Barred Bandicoot
Our Baby Grasses!
Our Baby Grasses!

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