May 18, 2017

Healthy, Happy Bandicoots!

Healthy Bandicoot!
Healthy Bandicoot!

We recently conducted our autumn round of bandicoot monitoring in Hamilton and Woodlands Historic Park, which produced a healthy snap shot of our populations across both sites.  Monitoring is a critical part of our conservation program and involves checking traps around the sites over several days.

The Hamilton site was first to be monitored in late March.  After the new population of 20 bandicoots were released a year ago, it was a great chance to see how they were travelling. Conservation Volunteers Australia’s Project Officer, Travis Scicchitano reports: “The site looked amazing, and with good rainfall over summer, the grasslands were in very good condition.  360 traps were checked over 3 nights, providing some fantastic results.  In November last year we caught and released 19 individuals, and this March we were pleased to see that number increase to 30.  Based on evidence of the catch locations, and signs of activity, we expect the population to now be between 50 to 70 bandicoots.  The animals were all in great condition and we caught our first pouch young, which was amazing. 14 of the 30 bandicoots were clean skins (haven’t been caught before), and this tells us there is plenty of breeding happening. We can’t wait until November for our next monitoring session!”  Check out one of our bandicoot release videos in Hamilton.

Monitoring at Woodlands Historic Park took place in mid-April. Approximately 900 traps were checked over 4 nights.  With under average rainfalls and a very hot summer, the conditions at Woodlands were the complete opposite to those in Hamilton.  Travis explains, “We were very keen to see the condition of the bandicoots and we didn’t expect them to breed much due to the weather.  When there’s not enough rain the ground gets very hard and it becomes difficult for the bandicoots to dig for their food. As a result, bandicoots will often stop breeding in those conditions.  To our surprise the bandicoots proved us wrong.  We caught 96 bandicoots, of which more than half of these were clean skins; 50 in total. The sex ratio of captured bandicoots continues to be male biased with 62 males and 34 females caught over the four days. Twenty four (or 71%) of the females caught had pouch young, with a total of 44 pouch young seen.” This sleepy bandicoot was so comfortable, it didn’t want to leave!

Both locations had brilliant results, and the best news was the health of the bandicoots, all of which looked in good condition alongside plenty of breeding across both sites.  A huge thank you goes out to all our supporters, donors and volunteers, without you all, none of this would be possible!

Please consider donating or sharing our story - we need your continued support to safeguard the survival of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot and their habitat.

Our bandicoots are thriving!
Our bandicoots are thriving!
Monitoring in Woodlands
Monitoring in Woodlands

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May 18, 2017

Our Achievements Thanks to You!

Thanks to donors like you, Conservation Volunteers Australia has been able to deliver a number of successful Tasmanian Devil projects over the last few years. To date your funds have contributed towards;

  • The construction of a large ‘retirement village’ for ageing devils that were previously part of breeding programs. This enclosure can hold up to 25 devils at the one time and allows devils, which have contributed towards the future of the species, a chance at a safe and disease free retirement.
  • Building a couple of enclosures for the Tasmanian Devil breeding program at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. These are currently in use and highly successful, with female devils nursing babies as we speak. A great project that has seen healthy devil populations increase.
  • Assembling and dissembling holding pens and soft release enclosures on the Tasman Peninsula. These temporary enclosures are set up for healthy devil populations that are part of the breeding program, to be slowly released into the native habitat. This soft release allows them to become familiar with their surrounds before being let loose in the wild.

All of these different elements of the program have seen outstanding results for the species, while also allowing the local community to both learn about the problems and become involved in the solutions. A terrific program that has made a significant difference all thanks to your kind contributions, so thank you!

Between now and the end of June, we plan to undertake a further 50 volunteer days on devil focused projects that will include habitat protection tasks around Southern Tasmania. Stay tuned for our next update on the conservation of this iconic species.

Devil retirement village
Devil retirement village
Baby Luca
Baby Luca
May 17, 2017

Did Someone Say FROGS!

Volunteers constructing pitfall trapping line
Volunteers constructing pitfall trapping line

And so it was the summer trapping program in the Little Desert. After a mild summer and above average rainfall every wetlands, pond and pothole was full with water, and with all this water came an eruption of frogs.Conservation Volunteers Australia’s Program Manager, Ben Holmes, reports: “Over 6,000 Pobblebonk frogs (Limnodynastes dumerilii) were captured in the first week and approximately 9,100 across our five weeks of trapping! This is extraordinary considering only a few months ago we only captured 183 Pobblebonk’s over 4 weeks of trapping.” These monitoring results inform us that this desert ecosystem, like many others, operates in Boom- Bust cycles. Ben explains, “When conditions are good animals and plants boom in huge numbers, then as conditions deteriorate (i.e. it gets dry and/or hot) the plant and animals bust. This bust cycle can last for years, where animals in particular occur in very low numbers awaiting those favourable conditions to return.”

The frogs are called the Pobblebonk (or Eastern Banjo Frog) because of their distinctive “bonk” call. This large burrowing frog is primarily insectivorous and can be seen in large numbers after rain feeding and breeding.

With the help of many volunteers, and thousands of volunteer hours, we have achieved a great deal recently:

  • We constructed another eight trapping grids with 80 buckets and 400 metres (1/4 mile) of fencing
  • Conducted 5 weeks of trapping surveys
  • Captured and released 265 animals, including Painted Dragon, Western Pygmy-possum, Inland Snake-eyed Skink, Marbled Gecko and Common Scaly-foot
  • Carried out detailed habitat assessments at 8 sites
  • Conducted a camera survey trial using 40 borrowed cameras, equating to over 1,500 camera trap nights

Whilst we have achieved these fantastic results, there is still so much more to do! Ben explains, “The camera survey trial was a huge success, and moving forward, will be a critical component of this project to allow us to successfully measure and monitor the larger species, such as goannas and introduced foxes.”  To make this happen we need your support to purchase our own set of cameras. Please consider donating again or sharing our story to help us raise vital funds to continue our monitoring program.

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

Thousands of frogs!
Thousands of frogs!
Group of fox pups captured via our camera survey
Group of fox pups captured via our camera survey

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