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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Feb 27, 2017

Unwelcome Visitors at Brookfield

Our focus over the past 3 months has been on threats to the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombats. These threats can come in the form of carriers of disease, removal of preferred food source and unwelcome visitors.

Since our last report, we have installed a remote sensor camera at a large warren to gain clear evidence that we have feral cats at Brookfield Conservation Park. We have seen feral cats on the property, but only had anecdotal information that the cats were utilising the same burrows as the wombats. With the camera in place, we recently captured clear evidence of this cohabitation, which was identified by volunteers searching through all the images recorded. As a result, we can now implement a program for the humane removal of these threats. The camera also captured other useful images of the resident emus and very inquisitive wombats!

Another threat to the biodiversity and integrity of the Park are goats. They are a common problem in this region and just like the wombats, they are drawn to the park as it is an oasis in the region. We have recently set up a water trough to attract the feral goats into one area where we will be able to gather and move them off the Park. Their impact is quite dramatic when in abundance and although they are browsers (eat lower branches and small shrubs) as opposed to grazers (like wombats), they affect the health of the Park, which ultimately affects the health of all native wildlife that inhabit the region. Volunteers have been monitoring remote sensor cameras set up at the troughs to ascertain goat numbers and their regularity to the area. This will assist us with determining the next steps needed to manage these goats.

Despite the temperature reaching at least 47 degrees Celsius at the Park recently, volunteers have been rewarded often with sightings of robust looking wombats, taking advantage of the cooler days resting on the warrens. A researcher who regularly visits the Park has captured video footage of a female wombat with a young at heel, a special treat for a species so cryptic!

The coming months will see our continuing efforts on the invasive weeds throughout the Park, as well as looking forward to the arrival of a return research team. Having completed a research program 16 years ago on collecting DNA samples through wombat hairs, the principal researcher is returning to repeat that work. It is not often there is the time or funds for this kind of return trip, so we are waiting in anticipation for the team to arrive! We would like to sincerely thank you for your generous donations, they are supporting this timely research and we looking forward to sharing the progress with you in our next report.

 

*Video courtesy of Matt Gaughwin
Clear evidence of feral cats
Clear evidence of feral cats
Say cheese!
Say cheese!
Resident emu captured by remote sensor camera
Resident emu captured by remote sensor camera

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