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.
The first quarter of 2017 has seen our volunteers start on some exciting new projects at Whiteman Park at Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre that will assist Carnabys Black Cockatoo habitat within the Swan Coastal Plain.
Whiteman Park has partnered with Conservation Volunteers Australia since mid-2009, supporting our Habitat and Catchment Restoration Programs in the Swan region. The most recent program of activities through January - February 2017 have seen our teams aid Environment Officer Andrew in a number of weed control, litter collection and track maintenance activities.
Volunteers contributed 189 hours to these projects, volunteering in all conditions including one of the hottest days in January and one of the wettest in February. The team volunteered at four different sites within the park; weeding along both the Red Walk Trail and the rail line to Mussel Pool, pruning throughout the Children’s Forest to maintain tracks and collecting litter along the creek bed and surrounding bush and park land along Bennett Brook. Whiteman Park provides large areas of habitat for the black cockatoos
Hannah, Team Leader for Conservation Volunteers Australia said, “The team had a fantastic time at Whiteman Park, managing to catch sight of an array of wildlife while putting in a massive conservation effort. Even though they were faced with some challenging weather with an entire day of drizzle at Bennett Brook and a couple of very hot days, the volunteers did an amazing job. Andrew was a pleasure to work with and had great knowledge of the park.”
Conservation Volunteers Australia has been partnered with Kaarakin since 2009 and our focus in 2017 will be for Conservation Volunteers Australia to manage The Orchard. The Orchard is a parcel of land adjacent to the centre that has seen several years of successful planting efforts by volunteers. We are now helping to control the invasive weeds that have returned to the area and are choking the creek line through the site. Volunteers have set up photo monitoring points throughout the area and have started to remove some of the weed species.
We would like to thank our Global Giving donors, supporters and volunteers. Without your support, we wouldn’t be able to make a difference to this important cause. If you are able to donate again we would really appreciate it – every donation 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.
Australian wildlife is facing an extinction crisis, with 31% of mammals extinct or threatened. Rewilding the Desert is aiming to bring back from the brink our threatened desert wildlife, with community volunteers and expert researchers joining together. An initial BioBlitz will enable us to establish monitoring and research programs to better understand the ecological benefits and impacts of rewilding.
In spring (September - November in our hemisphere!) the first step of our in-depth BioBlitz has begun! We commenced our fauna monitoring program at the Little Desert Nature Lodge site and the results were excellent:
Conservation Volunteers Australia Rewilding Program Manager, Ben Holmes reports: ‘We are extremely grateful to everyone who braved the early mornings, late evenings and friendly Wimmera flies to collect this data. This information is vital to helping us better understand the ecosystem before we can progress to the next stage of the project.
Before we can get to the good part: rewilding (or reintroduce) locally extinct native wildlife, we need to conduct more surveys and collect more data. We also need to establish monitoring sites at our other property, the Malleefowl Sanctuary. So we still need your help to spread the word and support our efforts.
A big thank you to all the generous souls who have donated, without your support we cannot continue this critical program and help conserve Australia’s weird, wonderful and highly threatened native wildlife.