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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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Jan 30, 2014

Taking Care of the Elders project: Devil Retirement Village Underway!

Devils volunteer team
Devils volunteer team

It’s been a busy start to the year for the Taking Care of the Elders program. We’ve received some very generous donations over the last few months, which have enabled us to purchase much needed materials for the construction of this large ‘retirement village’ for the Tasmanian Devils. A significant amount of timber rail has been purchased and installed along the perimeter fence. These activities have resulted in a noteworthy 220 square metres out of the 660 square metre perimeter fence now complete. We’re getting there, with your support!

The volunteers assisting with the construction are excited by their progress. Conservation Volunteers Australia Team Leader, Geoff Brown, commented: “The Bonorong project is great for many reasons! It’s a chance for volunteers from all sorts of backgrounds to directly help with the long term survival of the world’s largest marsupial carnivore. Along the way, volunteers learn practical conservation skills and have the chance to be a part of a community project. It is also a chance for many of them (including Tasmanians) to see Australian animals - like the Devils - that they may have never seen before.” 

This great program will see many older devils live out their final days in a comfortable, disease free habitat – a great way to reward these animals for their contribution towards the continued future of their unique species. All involved within the program are looking forward to seeing the benefits of their hard work when the Devils can be released into the enclosure.

To complete this Devil ‘retirement village’, the program still requires further financial assistance. Conservation Volunteers Australia is seeking support for the acquisition of additional materials, including mulch to lay within the enclosure and mesh netting and pickets for the perimeter fence to keep the Devils safe. Donations can be made in set amounts for fencing materials or you can pledge your own amount and know that you are furthering the survival of this iconic species.

Our heartfelt thanks to those that have supported and donated to our Tasmanian Devil project so far. Your contribution ensures these important conservation efforts continue and that the Tasmanian Devil will have a Wild Future!

Fence construction underway
Fence construction underway
Measure twice, cut once!
Measure twice, cut once!
Fence is coming together!
Fence is coming together!

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Nov 14, 2013

Eastern Barred Bandicoot program: Home is where the park is!

Endangered Eastern Barred Bandicoot
Endangered Eastern Barred Bandicoot

Conservation Volunteers Australia’s Project Officer, Travis Scicchitano, is continuing his work with volunteers from across Australia and around the world on the Eastern Barred Bandicoots project at Woodlands, just outside Melbourne.

Travis says, “We’ve had another busy year at Woodlands Historic Park and the Eastern Barred Bandicoot program has reached news heights! Countless days have been put into preparing the site by enhancing and upgrading the existing fence. Daily patrols around the 7 kilometre fence have been a priority as keeping the foxes out is now vital. Volunteers have achieved approximately 3,000kms of fence patrolling so far - this is the same distance from Melbourne to Cairns! Our volunteers have also removed around 100 hectares of noxious woody weeds, and 9,000 grasslands plants have been planted to create a brand new nest area for the bandicoots.”

Due to all of this hard work, Woodlands now has a total of 42 Eastern Barred Bandicoots calling it home. According to Travis, “The great news is that we have trapped 27 individuals since the first release period and their health is looking good. We’ve seen positive weight gain and retention and no major injuries except for the males who are fighting each other for breeding mates - this is a positive and natural injury! We are also finding evidence of the animals moving throughout the park setting up home, with the most positive sign being they have been very busy breeding! Nearly all females are carrying pouch young so in the next few months we hope to catch our first new animals bred here on site.”

Volunteers on the site have been delighted to see their efforts paying off.  Even though we can’t see the bandicoots during the day because they are nocturnal, there is plenty of evidence on the ground. Fresh digs can be seen where they have been busily looking for insects to eat. Over 400 volunteer days have been put into the project in the past year. Travis comments that the volunteers have done an outstanding job so far: “We would like to thank them immensely for their incredible enthusiasm, dedication and hard work.  Without their help, we would still be a long way off having bandicoots roaming free in the park – it’s a great result so far to have reached the breeding stage. With only around 400 bandicoots left in existence, things are really looking up as we hope to double the current population.”

We still need your support as ongoing fence upgrades are vital and many other aspects of this program continually present challenges.  But together we can make a difference and this animal will continue to re-establish itself back into the wild.

Our sincere thanks to you for supporting and donating to our Eastern Barred Bandicoot project so far. Your contribution ensures these important conservation efforts continue and that the Eastern Barred Bandicoot will have a Wild Future!

Fresh digs - I can see where u have been eating!
Fresh digs - I can see where u have been eating!
I want out after having my health check!
I want out after having my health check!
Planting important habitat at Woodlands
Planting important habitat at Woodlands

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