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Jun 29, 2018

Positive Results for our Wombats!

Our Tasmanian team have just wrapped up their first year of surveys for mange prevalence in Tasmania’s wombat population, and the results are looking positive for our furry friends!

Across 38 nights, we sighted 2,005 wombats and surveyed 1,725 for mange, and the overall state-wide mange prevalence is around 2%. There are of course local and seasonal variations to this, however in all locations the prevalence of mange is lower than many people expected.

The monitoring project involved 82 volunteers, who were given training on how to spot mange; then armed with binoculars they set out along designated transects looking for wombats. Many hours were spent monitoring our wombats, and we are extremely grateful for each and every one of our volunteers who contributed to this vital data.

The data our keen-eyed volunteers collected will be used by the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment to communicate more accurate information to the public about the prevalence of mange in our wombat population. It will also allow them to implement management actions for the populations, or individuals within a population who are affected by mange. 

For the data we collect to provide an accurate picture of mange prevalence over time, we need to repeat these surveys annually, so we are currently seeking funds to support this important (and fun!) citizen science project. The support we have received through our GlobalGiving donors has been amazing, and we’d like to say a big THANK YOU for your generosity.

May 21, 2018

New Wildlife Survey Internship

Fat-tailed Dunnart
Fat-tailed Dunnart

Regular readers will know that a critical component of the Rewilding the Desert program is our baseline environmental monitoring program. In Spring and late Summer/early Autumn we conduct an extensive fauna survey program across:

  1. Our two predator-free wildlife sanctuaries (inside the predator-proof fences); and
  2. Similar habitat adjoining our wildlife sanctuaries (outside the fences).

To assist us with this mammoth task, we recruit volunteers and members of the local community. For our resent Summer survey program, however, we trialled something a bit different: A Wildlife Survey Internship. The idea was to engage a student studying in the Ecology, Conservation or Environmental Science fields, and provide them with some in-depth training and hands-on practical experience. In exchange, the student will provide a longer commitment to helping with the delivery of the monitoring program.

We were extremely lucky to recruit Hayley from Melbourne, who came up to the Little Desert Nature Lodge to help for 3 weeks. Hayley loved it so much she came back for another week! Here is a description from Hayley via Instagram of her experience:

“The sunset tonight. Perfectly summing up how incredibly lucky I have been over the last 3 weeks to see the things that I have seen, and experience some of the most wonderful and magical moments I could never have even imagined.

This place has become very special to me and I will be leaving here tomorrow with some amazing memories and stories that I will hold on to dearly but also with a great amount of self-growth. Thankyou little desert you truly have been magical!”

With the help of Hayley and our other volunteers we have:

  • Established two new traps sites
  • Trapped 34 sites and conducted 2,380 trap days and 3,060 trap nights
  • Captured 27 different species of animals; and
  • Captured 748 individual animals.

This was another great result and we could not have done it without Hayley’s help. We found the Internship to be a valuable model for us to deliver the monitoring program. Equally important, this model also provided some invaluable experience to our young and aspiring ecologists and conservation professionals.

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.

Hayley with shingle-backed lizard
Hayley with shingle-backed lizard
Sunset at the desert
Sunset at the desert

Links:

May 8, 2018

10 Years of Counting Cockies!

On Sunday the 8th of April our volunteer team joined 700 other volunteers to count black-cockatoos as they came in to their evening roosts. The Great Cocky Count is a long-term citizen science survey and the biggest single survey for black-cockatoos in Western Australia. This was the 10th year the event has taken place, with records submitted from across the southwest providing a snapshot of black-cockatoo populations to understand and quantify the changes in cockatoo numbers over time.

The Carnaby’s form large nocturnal communal roosts in the non-breeding season on the Swan Coastal Plain. The same roost sites are generally returned to year after year, with tree structure, food, shelter and water availability believed to be the crucial factors for roost selection. However, as Perth continues to expand, the native Banksia woodland on the Swan Coastal Plain is disappearing, providing less roosting habitat and critical food resources for Carnaby’s and other native species. This has resulted in the Carnaby’s forming a ‘mega roost’ with more individuals flocking to select sites. The volunteers counted 6,226 Carnaby’s at a mega roost during this year’s Great Cocky Count!

The largest threats to the Carnaby’s remain the consequence of land clearing and habitat fragmentation due to urban development, agriculture and competition for the remaining nesting hollows from species such as Galah, corella and feral bees. To help with this, we will soon be entering the planting season, and will continue to work with local councils and community groups to re-establish native vegetation in priority bushland reserves to secure a future for these beautiful birds.

As always, would like to thank our supporters, volunteers and very generous GlobalGiving donors. Without your support, we wouldn’t be able to continue engaging the community in local conservation efforts. Further donations are definitely appreciated, and will help us to continue to make a difference for our endangered native species.

Swan Coastal Plain
Swan Coastal Plain

Links:

 
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