Aug 14, 2017

Preparing to Reintroduce Locally Extinct Wildlife

Although the rain set in early, making it a long cold winter, our volunteers and teams have been as busy as ever.

Over the past few months our volunteers have helped construct another seven trap grids in preparation for the spring trapping program – that’s 70 more buckets and ¼ mile of drift fencing. In total we have now set up 39 monitoring sites, dug in nearly 400 pitfall buckets and erected over 1.25 miles of drift fencing.

With our project partner, FAUNA Research Alliance, we assembled a small group of research scientist to evaluate the progress of the project and start planning for the reintroduction of animals. Everyone was happy with the progress thus far, and excitingly, we have set some dates to reintroduce threatened wildlife into our predator-proof properties!

We are planning to conduct our first experimental release in spring 2018. This reintroduction will involve soil engineers; animals that excavate the soil searching for subterranean food like the Brush-tailed Bettong (pictured below), Western Barred Bandicoot or Burrowing Bettong. Then in spring 2019, we aim to reintroduce some of the native predator species missing from the landscape, like the Western Quoll (pictured) and Red-tailed Phascogale. The aim is to, in time, reintroduce all the native species required to restore a fully functioning ecosystem.

Prior to reintroducing the locally extinct, nationally endangered species, we need to ensure that our predator proof fence is up to standard and will keep the important wildlife in and the invasive, introduced predators out. With the help of over 80 volunteers we have commenced the monumental task of checking, repairing and upgrading the seven miles of predator proof fencing. To date we have checked and repaired ½ a mile.

Although we are making progress, work is slowed by a lack of resources. Before reintroductions begin we must have the facilities and capacity to acquire, house and breed these rare native animals. To achieve this we need to repair and upgrade not only our external predator-proof fences, but our wildlife housing and captive breeding infrastructure as well. To make this happen we need your support to buy rolls of wire, netting, fence pins, posts and screws! Please consider donating again or sharing our story with family and friends to help us secure these resources, and take the next steps to reintroducing our threatened wildlife.

We’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to all our amazing supporters and donors! Without your support we cannot continue this critical project and help conserve Australia’s weird, wonderful and highly threatened native wildlife.

Brush-tailed Bettong
Brush-tailed Bettong
Western Quoll
Western Quoll
Volunteers maintaining the predator-proof fence
Volunteers maintaining the predator-proof fence
Checking and repairing half a mile of fence
Checking and repairing half a mile of fence
May 18, 2017

Analysing DNA in Hair Follicles

Beautiful day at Brookfield
Beautiful day at Brookfield

Brookfield Conservation Park recently had the privilege of hosting a team of researchers from the USA and Australia. This program was supported by the generosity of our Global Giving donors, providing funds to cover some of the costs for accommodation. A huge thank you to all of you!

Researcher Faith, PhD, Director of Genetics, Bat Ecology & Genetics Lab, School of Forestry, Northern Arizona University, pioneered a method of collecting the hair of wombats as they leave their burrows and analysing the DNA in hair follicles to discover information about how many wombats there are, and their relationships to each other and where they go.

It is 16 years since Faith did her original work and she made a special trip from Arizona in the USA to South Australia, in April, to repeat her study with fellow Australian researchers and others. The aim is to find out if some of her original wombats are alive and whether the numbers of wombats have changed. This is important information, especially given the change in the ecology of the area, and will help guide the management of the Brookfield Conservation Park.

Conservation Volunteers Australia’s Regional Manager, Tricia Curtis explains, “Faith selected some warrens that had our existing camera traps set up so we can increase the information gathered for this study, by viewing photos of the wombats she collected hair samples from. This is a great task for our Brookfield volunteers to view and document camera trap data.”

The team of researchers secured enough funds to undertake the data collection at Brookfield and to analyse a small amount of that data. They now need to secure additional funds to complete the laboratory work, which will take a technical expert working over several months. Tricia says “We are hoping we can assist with this to ensure we get the much needed information to complete the picture.” Please consider donating again if you can or sharing our story to help us raise these vital funds to ensure the wombat’s ongoing survival.

The following series of photos below, captured on our new remote sensor cameras, tells the story of the successful collection of hair samples, along with an inquisitive kangaroo! We were also privileged to capture this short video of a wombat mum with a joey in her pouch. From the size of the pouch, the joey would be about 6 months old.

First day of site set up
First day of site set up
Installing hair tape
Installing hair tape
Nothing captured yet...
Nothing captured yet...
Success! Hair sample captured
Success! Hair sample captured
Resident Kangaroo!
Resident Kangaroo!
May 18, 2017

Restoring Habitat and the Great Cocky Count!

Red-tailed Black Cockatoo in flight
Red-tailed Black Cockatoo in flight

Over the past few months, our volunteers have been busy rehabilitating the black cockatoo habitat across Perth, and preparing sites for major re-vegetation projects. Since March, over 140 volunteers have helped to remove an amazing 2.7 hectares of invasive weed species from bush land areas such as Allen Park, Shenton Park, Bibra Lake and reserves along the Swan Estuary. These sites provide habitat critical to the Carnabys Black Cockatoo and the Forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoo.

In early April, our teams took part in the Great Cocky Count for the fifth year running! This is a citizen science project developed by Birdlife Australia where bird enthusiasts, the conservation oriented and keen community volunteers band together every year to count the comings and goings of cockatoos from known roosting sites at twilight. The result is a snapshot of Carnabys and Forest Red-tailed populations across Perth and the South West, providing valuable long-term data that assists with ongoing management of these beautiful birds.

We are continuing our rehabilitation efforts at The Orchard, near the Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre. 28 volunteers assisted with 42 hours of weed removal, which was further supported by students during our school holiday program who helped map out the vegetation. Volunteers were also treated to a walk-and-talk tour at the Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre, and got to meet several Forest Red-tailed Black Cockatoos, including cheeky Fluffbum and affectionate Betty in the interactive enclosure.

On the 24th & 27th April, our Training Coordinator, Richard McDowell, visited volunteer teams at Lesmurdie Falls National Park and Yule Brook, both significant sites for feeding and roosting black cockatoos. Richard showed the team how to identify invasive weed species to effectively contribute to restoration and rehabilitation in these areas.  

As winter approaches, our teams will start on re-vegetation projects that will add ecological value to remaining bushland areas.

We would like to thank our supporters, donors and our volunteers.  Without your support, we wouldn’t be able to make a difference to this important cause.  If you are able to donate again, or share our story, 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.

Volunteers in the interactive enclosure
Volunteers in the interactive enclosure
Richard discussing cockatoo habitat
Richard discussing cockatoo habitat
Important weeding at The Orchard
Important weeding at The Orchard

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