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Help Protect Endangered Bandicoots

by Conservation Volunteers Australia
Help Protect Endangered Bandicoots
Help Protect Endangered Bandicoots
Help Protect Endangered Bandicoots
Help Protect Endangered Bandicoots
Help Protect Endangered Bandicoots
Help Protect Endangered Bandicoots
Help Protect Endangered Bandicoots
Help Protect Endangered Bandicoots
Bandicoot Habitat
Bandicoot Habitat

Once again we will start off with habitat conditions at Woodlands Historic Park in this update.  Woodlands is officially waterlogged!  The rain continued well into autumn and has now returned to average monthly rainfall.  This is more than enough water and we quite possibly will not need anymore until spring.  Although I do not wish to jinx this.  The long term forecast is for above average rainfall in this area over the next 6 moths so we are excited about rapid growth once the warmer months arrive. This is the first time in four years we have had this luxury. 

The tussock structure of the native grasses has become very dense making nesting for bandicoots possible throughout the entire enclosure.  With the ground being so moist, it is now easy to see fresh bandicoot feed diggings everywhere.  So with the increased habitat and food source there should be shortage of breeding during this winter period.  With the next round of monitoring planned for October we will hopefully catch plenty of young new born and bred bandicoots in healthy body condition. 

There has been an aggressive weed control program running whilst the native grasses return.  The main target is called serrated tussock.  This grass is an introduced species and classified noxious.  As is has the ability to take over and monopolies other species.  We have been targeting the densest areas within quality native species areas. So far 52 hectares have been sprayed out which is fantastic.  Already the natives are growing over the top of the dead weeds. 

New wildflower planting plots are ready and the 9000 new plants are being delivered in the next few weeks.  It will be very exciting to plant these areas out and diversify the grasslands and see all the new flowers colours this spring and summer. 

The most EXCITING reward for all the hard work payed off in June. Woodlands finally was able to receive bandicoots from Zoos Victoria breeding program to help replenish our stocks and diversify the genetic pool.  Six were released in total including 3 males and 3 females.  These animals are young adults which means they arrive with optimal breeding lifespan ahead of them. We wish them well meeting the existing bandicoots and help the population rise.

Once again great work everyone involved from Conservation Volunteers Australia, Parks Victoria, volunteers and all members of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team who have assisted with making this possible. Most importantly the continued financial commitment from our sponsors through this platform is essential in allowing us to protect and grow the species numbers.

THANK YOU again and we look forward to your ongoing support.

Bandicoot Holes
Bandicoot Holes
Bandicoot Habitat
Bandicoot Habitat
Bandicoot holes
Bandicoot holes
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AMAZING volunteers at Woodland Historic Park
AMAZING volunteers at Woodland Historic Park

We will start off with habitat conditions at Woodlands Historic Park in this update.  Excellent news on the rainfall front.  Even though we had a typical hot summer here in Victoria, Woodlands got average rainfall throughout the summer period.  This has changed the entire landscape.  In some areas the grasslands are almost knee high.  We have had around 90% recovery of all the grasslands.  They can only get better from here as well as the plants are around half their size.  It won't be until January/February 2021 that they are at full size, but they will continue to grow until then.  

The biproduct of this growth is the invertebrate insects have returned in high numbers, providing plenty of food for the bandicoots.  So now there is suitable grassland habitat right across the park, for a boom of bandicoot breeding to take place from now on.  Something we have been very much looking forward to after years of drought and grass dieback.  Our fence patrol program continues daily with early morning checks to ensure the integrity of the fence and the protection of the bandicoots from any predators.

The other programs assisting our good weather season has been the continued work on rabbits and weed control.  The extensive rabbit warren destruction has seen a reduction in their numbers which has led to reduced grazing pressure on the grasses.  And now that the native grasses are at suitable bandicoot habitat size, weed grass species have been heavily focused on by staff and all the volunteers.  Also contributing to less competition for the natives to thrive.  

New wildflower planting plots are currently being built to really diversify the plant species this year.  Around 15 new wildflower species (9000 plants in total) will be reintroduced and planted from July onwards.  This is a very exciting stage in grassland restoration out here.  Your continued support allows for these works to occur.

The ground is still quite hard here, but after some heavier rainfall events, bandicoot digs have been widespread as they look for food.  So, in a months’ time when it starts to cool down and more rainfall arrives we are expecting to see that breeding, through the cooler months, really takes off.  

So, it's a very exciting stage coming up at Woodlands.  We hope to see plenty of mother bandicoots running around with their baby (young at foot) animals in the night times ahead.  

Once again great work everyone involved from Conservation Volunteers Australia, Parks Victoria, volunteers and all members of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team who have assisted with making this possible. Most importantly the continued financial commitment from our donors through GlobalGiving is essential in allowing us to protect and grow the species numbers.

THANK YOU again and we look forward to your ongoing support.


Travis Scicchitano,
Woodlands Project Officer

HOT SUNRISE - Fence Patrolling
HOT SUNRISE - Fence Patrolling
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Mid summer updates for Eastern Barred Bandicoots at Woodlands Historic Park.

We have had two extremes in weather since our last spring report.  Both have provided positive and negative outcomes.  Mother Nature has the power to do this in the environmental field and sometimes you just have to adapt.

On a positive note woodlands continued to receive average winter and spring rainfall.  And with the weather warming up in spring the grasslands exploded with growth. This is what we were hoping for but it's never guaranteed of course.  The invertebrate insects returned as well as a great number of our seasonal grasshoppers to provide plenty of surface food for the bandicoots once the ground hardens up and digging for food becomes less common.  Also there was a better response then expected to some wildflower species coming back after three years of non growth.  Chocolate, flax, yellow and bulbine lillies popped up.  The early Nancy, which gets its name from being one of the first seasonally to arrive bloomed in dense numbers.  Milk maids also decided to show there heads once again.  It's only the start but it's fantastic as there was less diversity lost during that extreme dry period. 

Helping this come along has been our pest grazing program.  This has been focusing on reducing the number of rabbits which are a introduced noxious pest animal to Australia.  They eat grass and do so extremely aggressively.  At least half the parks major rabbit warren systems have been destroyed and work is continuing on this front over the next six months.  

There will be no official bandicoot monitoring until April this year.  The end of spring this year became to hot and unpredictable in weather and we don't take any risk in running these events if animal welfare is compromised.  So spotlighting will get us through until then.  So far we are seeing regular bandicoots scattered in all areas of the reserve.

Sadly on the negative front as many of you will be aware the last few months has seen unprecedented amounts of bushfires burning across nearly all parts of Australia.  Summer so far has been difficult and rainfall has disappeared again.  At woodlands only 5mm of rain fell compared to an average of 55mm.   There were two fires close by, one only around 10km away in a straight line.  This is very close for us.  But thanks to the amazing work of our emergency services these were extinguished.  Parks Victoria fire fighters have done a brilliant job in not only fighting these fires but creating extensive plans to mitigate any chance of fire arriving at the reserve. Creating fire breaks, continuously patrolling the park and having staff ready to deploy if needed.  

We would like to thank them for what they are currently battling and more so thanking them into the future as there is no sight in end for these fires at the moment.  

Once again great work everyone involved from Conservation Volunteers Australia, Parks Victoria, volunteers and all members of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team who have assisted with making this possible.

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Bandicoot
Bandicoot

 

Spring updates for Eastern Barred Bandicoots at Woodlands Historic Park.


In our last report we talked about the extreme weather challenges woodlands faced with such a dry summer and start of autumn.  I’m pleased to report that the rest of autumn and winter produced close to average rainfall.  This has meant that there was no loss of grasslands and recovery of the habitat has started to take place.  We are still in a holding pattern as the temperature is still quite low.  But the warmer days have started and already the grass length has doubled.  Once the temperature gets up the grasslands will explode as they are summer growers.  

The other very important requirement of the habitat improvement was to have the invertebrate insects return.  Great news is they have started to move back in.  So, the combination of insects and grass growth means that there’s going to be more space for bandicoots so hopefully some breeding will take place shortly.  We will get a good indication soon as each summer grasshoppers breed on site.  This is a great summer food source, so we look forward to it being a bumper crop this season.

Excitingly with the softer soils there has been more and more feeding digs found.  The bandicoots are really starting to scratch up the soil also indicating that the insects are returning.  

There is a big emphasis on keeping this new growth healthy.  This means a big program is commencing to control rabbits from grazing pressure on the habitat.  Several programs will take place over the coming months to significantly reduce their numbers.  Before the program starts a survey is always undertaken via spotlight count at night.  The positive news is that healthy looking bandicoots were seen.  They were not the primary target to look for, but eight individuals were sighted at all locations throughout the park.  

So, bring on the warmer weather and a splash of rain here and there and we look forward to seeing that grass grow.  Exciting times ahead.

Once again great work everyone involved from Conservation Volunteers Australia, Parks Victoria, volunteers and all members of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team who have assisted with making this possible.

Travis Scicchitano, Woodlands Project Officer

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Autumn updates for Eastern Barred Bandicoots at Woodlands Historic Park




Weather conditions have made life extremely tough for all wildlife at Woodlands historic park.

 

It was the driest ever start to the year since weather records have been kept in the regions of Melbourne.  The radar used for our weather data is Tullamarine and in January, February, March and April only 35mm of rain had fallen across the four months.  Average monthly rainfall is around 50-60mm.  Add to this extreme lack of rainfall the long hot summer weather the grasslands have suffered their biggest hit and dieback since the drought in the years of the 2000’s.  

 

But there has been some light at the end of the tunnel. In The current month of May we have already had 59mm of rain and there is a forecast of still another week of rain to come.  For months there I’d forgotten what the wet stuff looked like and no doubt the animals and plants did as well.  

 

So, what does this mean?  It means that it will take a few months at least until we start to see some good grassland growth.  As this type of environment grows well in warm conditions while the soil is warmer.  The grass will still grow during the cooler months but a little slower.  The fantastic news is that everything has recovered and is green again so it’s all there.  

 

Due to this our bandicoot numbers are still lower as they wait for the habitat to return.  Animals that have been monitored are still in good condition so it’s just a waiting game for the habitat to return and breeding will recommence.  As the grass dies back so do the invertebrate insects, grubs, worms etc that live in them as well.  So, it’s a double hit for the bandicoots with no grass to nest in and less food to eat.  

 

So, it’s a waiting game now.  However, we will try to speed up the process by planting more grasses and do extensive weed control to speed up the recovery.  

 

One animal that doesn’t mind the dry weather is the echidna.  There is a video of one happily roaming the woodlands looking for ants to eat, very cute!


So, let’s hope this rain continues and the grass grows, and insects come back in bigger numbers.  There are a few photos of a location showing how green it was at the start of January and how dry it had got at the start of May.  


Once again great work everyone involved from Conservation Volunteers Australia, Parks Victoria, volunteers and all members of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team who have assisted with making this possible.

Travis Scicchitano, Woodlands Project Officer

 

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Conservation Volunteers Australia

Location: Mount Pleasant, Victoria - Australia
Website:
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Twitter: @CVAustralia
Project Leader:
Brett Atkins
Ballarat, Victoria Australia
$9,008 raised of $25,000 goal
 
193 donations
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