Nov 29, 2016

Saving our Wombats - Toxic Weed Strategy Success!

Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat
Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat

Mother Nature has been very kind this past 3 months with plenty of rain falling on the Murray Mallee and in particular Brookfield Conservation Park. This has encouraged the growth of the much favoured native grasses for the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat – the Park is looking pretty good!

Funds generously donated recently enabled volunteers to undertake maintenance on the grassland exclosures and collect data on the browsing pressure on existing vegetation. We are discovering from this site and older exclosures that this is a long term program – it appears that we need to wait a minimum of two years for any of the seeds to germinate and then the vegetation needs to be monitored. One of the many benefits of undertaking projects like these at Brookfield is our long term presence here and the commitment of long term volunteers.

A major coup is the successful collaborative grant – Ecology and Management of the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat. Alongside the University of Adelaide, Flinders University and the state government and others, Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) will be part of this project that will develop a comprehensive understanding of the interactions between Southern Hairy-nosed wombats and environmental conditions, and evaluate innovative spatial technologies for long-term species conservation in the light of changing climate and socio-economic pressures. Our volunteers will play a significant role in assisting researchers with the collection of this priority data. Regional Manager, Tricia, reports “We recently hosted students from Waldorf Willunga High who surveyed the active wombat warrens, set up remote sensor cameras and trialled using a drone over the park to collect footage – a very exciting time for us all!

So far with your support, we have been able to implement our weed strategy program, preventing further outbreaks of toxic weeds that were affecting the nutritional balance of the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat. Ingestion of these toxic weeds was affecting the wombat’s kidneys and liver, leading to emaciation and death. We’re pleased to report we have had no new outbreaks. This is a time to celebrate but also a time to ensure our implementation plan is adhered to – our next step is to schedule regular events to keep on top of the weeds and ensure no new outbreaks occur. It also means that we are able to look beyond this health issue and implement other positive programs, ensuring the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat population at Brookfield stays healthy, despite its fragmentation from other populations. We are also trialling new ways to prevent over grazing of native vegetation and supporting wombat research.

As the year comes to a close, we thank you again for your ongoing support and generosity. We hope you have a happy and safe holiday season, and look forward to keeping you up-to-date on our wombats in 2017.

Our amazing volunteers!
Our amazing volunteers!
PhD student Alice setting up camera traps
PhD student Alice setting up camera traps
Time for a scratch!
Time for a scratch!

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Nov 28, 2016

Restoring the Black Cockatoos Habitat

Red-tailed Black Cockatoo
Red-tailed Black Cockatoo

The last couple of months have seen our volunteer teams finish up with a lot of our planting projects, and start on our green stock and track maintenance activities.  Volunteers have also had the opportunity to visit a couple of primary schools where they have assisted teachers by building outdoor and living classrooms.  Teachers will now be able to use these outdoor natural spaces to educate students about sustainability, Reduce Reuse Recycle, ecosystems and life cycles.

One of these projects was at Orange Grove Primary School where the students built nesting boxes for the Black Cockatoos earlier this year.  Every time the team visits the school, they monitor all five of the nesting boxes for signs of use.  So far the smaller parrot boxes have visible scratching marks and staff from the school have seen the Black Cockatoos checking out the larger nesting boxes.  Volunteers have also helped with sustainability projects at the school, helping to build veggie gardens and compost heaps.  The Principal, Ms Cole was extremely happy with the activities completed by the volunteers, “Thank you so much for your help, the students are now researching what veggies they will plant and when”.     

Our volunteers were once again lucky to be visited by flocks of Black Cockatoos this quarter.  Teams helping with invasive weed removal on Ferndale were witness to a small flock of Red Tailed Black Cockatoos, feeding and playing in the nearby trees. Long-time regular volunteer, Mr Nylander, caught some great shots of the flock and Regional Coordinator Ms Haynes said “It’s great for the volunteers to see the beautiful birds in the wild.  Their huge effort to restore the Black Cockatoos habitat is immediately rewarded with the large birds’ playful behaviour in the sky”.

For the rest of the year, our volunteers will be focusing on the maintenance of the thousands of seedlings that we planted over winter. It’s a big task, but an important one to secure the future of this vulnerable species.

Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) would like to thank our supporters, volunteers and donors.  Without your support, CVA 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.

Volunteers Planting Future Nesting Sites
Volunteers Planting Future Nesting Sites
Future Food for the Cockatoos
Future Food for the Cockatoos
Delicious!
Delicious!

Links:

Nov 28, 2016

A Wild Future for the Tasmanian Devil

Tasmanian Devil
Tasmanian Devil

Although the Tasmanian Devil is still considered a highly vulnerable and threatened species, their future is looking more positive with scientific developments, successful breeding programs and release programs being undertaken across the country.

Over 100 healthy devils that were part of insurance populations have now been released across various locations in Tasmania. The Forestier Peninsula in the south east, Narawntapu National Park in the north and Stony Head in the north east have been the main release locations. Unfortunately a number of these devils were killed by cars on the peninsula; however, there have been differing results with these releases due to locations and traffic frequency etc. With the installation of the new virtual fences (as reported in our last update) we hope this number decreases over time. 

The Tasmanian government and all parties invested in the future of the Tasmanian Devil have also been advocating for safer roads, increased community awareness and mitigation methods to prevent these healthy devil species from becoming road kill.     

More recently scientists have been looking into developing a vaccine that will prevent the disease and can be administered to wild species.  The next step with this vaccine is to trial with around 60 devils over the next three years. 

Conservation Volunteers Australia participated in a number of activities to help protect this amazing species including building breeding and holding pens for the healthy devils, in partnership with Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. It is thanks to the generosity and support from Global Giving donations and our dedicated volunteers that have enabled us to make such a significant contribution to the survival of this species. Ms Bailey, Hobart Regional Manager of Conservation Volunteers Australia reports “we recently discovered a female devil in the breeding enclosure gave birth to a number of babies. This was the first birth for the breeding enclosures and considered a huge win! The mother, Nymeria is in good health as are the new baby devils.”

As the year comes to a close, we thank you again for your ongoing support and generosity. We hope you have a happy and safe holiday season.

Nymeria and her new baby devil
Nymeria and her new baby devil
Devil safe at home at Bonorong
Devil safe at home at Bonorong
Devil retirement village at Bonorong
Devil retirement village at Bonorong

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