Animals
 Australia
Project #13209

Help Protect Endangered Bandicoots

by Conservation Volunteers Australia
Vetted
Time for a Health Check! Photo: David Paul
Time for a Health Check! Photo: David Paul

Welcome to our latest report,

The long hot and dry summer in Victoria continued well into autumn, with above average temperatures and hardly any rain.  Our last update saw us looking forward to our monitoring session in April, eager to collect data on the effect of the hot and dry conditions on our Eastern Barred Bandicoot population.  It's with great joy, I can share with you all now, that the tough critters did exceptionally well. 101 individual Bandicoots were caught, and all received perfect health check reports, showcasing that the Woodlands site is perfect for the Bandicoots.

This update for supporters of the Bandicoots is already great, but it is about to get more exciting.  Due to the successful model of Bandicoot recovery at Woodlands, Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) was asked to take over the management of the original Bandicoot release site in Hamilton, Western Victoria.  The site, to be suitable to meet the requirements to successfuly house Bandicoots needed to go through a restructure, needing fence repairs and fox control to be undertaken.  The local Hamilton CVA staff took on the challenge, and within seven short months had made the essential fence repairs and removed four foxes.  This is an amazing achievement on its own, but the story gets better.  Once proving there were no foxes on site over a two month period, it was time to release Bandicoots back on site.  The release of healthy Bandicoots is also a milestone achievement for Woodlands, as we were allowed to finally relocate animals to help other sites.  This is only allowed once a population has become stable and self sufficient.  So, in April, twenty Bandicoots were released: six animals from Woodlands, six animals from Mount Rothwell and eight from Zoos Victoria's breeding program.  Each Bandicoot was carefully selected and prepared for their historical journey - to re-establish a presence and population in Hamilton.  An inspiring effort by, all and a new chapter in bringing Bandicoot's back from extinction in the wild. Watch a video of the release now.

In late May, we implemented our first post release monitoring in Hamilton.  With only twenty animals to try and catch in 110 hectares  - the odds were slim.  Catching two or three would have been a good result - so you can imagine we were over the moon with joy when we processed nine individuals, seven males and two females, all in good health and setting up their new homes.  As an extra bonus, one of the females revealed two babies in her pouch, which were conceived on site.  So we are proud parents for the first time, and very shortly these pouch young will be out and about in the real world, at Hamilton. 

It is without a doubt, that the past few months have been rather frantic - with positive activity, so kindly enabled through your kind donations.  A special thanks to you - our supporters through Global Giving, as well as the Hamilton CVA staff, the wonderful local volunteers who are assisting us all the way with this program, Parks Victoria and the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team who help make this possible. The remote cameras are playing a huge role in Hamilton, reporting the movements of the Bandicoots, which already reveal that they are enjoying exploring the whole site.  This knowledge supports the suitability of the site habitat, and ensures plenty of future breeding will occur as they look to establish nest areas.  

Bandicoot recovery has reached a new milestone, but there is still much for us to achieve to truely reverse the status of being extinct in the wild.  Please show your support again for this project appeal through a kind donation.  Why not take advantage of the special GlobalGiving Bonus Day on June 15 - where an amazing 50% of your kind donation (up to $1,000) being matched.  So please consider our Eastern Barred Bandicoots this winter and donate on June 15.  Please put a reminder in your phone or calendar today and share this story with your friends and work mates!

Yours in conservation,

Hmm.. been looking after your teeth? Photo D. Paul
Hmm.. been looking after your teeth? Photo D. Paul
Finished - See you later! Photo: David Paul
Finished - See you later! Photo: David Paul
Feet...Good too!  Photo: David Paul
Feet...Good too! Photo: David Paul
Met the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Team!
Met the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Team!

Links:

Volunteers maintaining the Park
Volunteers maintaining the Park's perimeter fence

Welcome our Friends in Conservation,

Our little Eastern Barred Bandicoots have endured a long, hot and very dry summer, including the hottest February on record for Melbourne.  The consistent heat has caused some natural dieback in some of our grasslands, but our little bandicoots have managed to forage through this issue.  Our next monitoring event will occur in the middle April, and will give us a better idea how the dry summer has affected them, especially their breeding.  In the meantime, we have conducted several spotlighting sessions, and made use of our cameras.  These programs have shown good signs of bandicoots, but we are looking forward to April (and hopefully a bit of rain) to get a thorough count onsite.

During the middle of January, our perimeter fence sustained a breach and a fox gained access to the confines of the Bandicoot sanctuary.  Action was immediately taken and free feeds set upon sand pads was implemented, allowing us to see foot prints and scats.  We also implemented our infrared cameras to add to our surveillance of the area.  We were able to confirm the presence of a fox after seven days, and closed the park to the public and embarked on removing the fox from the enclosure.  After five days we caught and removed the predator.  Project Officer, Travis Scicchitano, said “We are extremely happy that we were able to minimise the presence of the fox in the park to under two weeks, a fantastic turnaround that would not have been possible without donations that allowed us to purchase the cameras.   The cameras played a starring role in figuring out the foxes movements.  Knowing which sand pads it was feeding from, what time of the night it liked to move around and narrowing down its habitat zone.  So rather than searching 280 hectares we concentrated on 20 hectares.”

Woodlands Historic Park has been established on land once used to grow food products for Melbourne in the early 1840’s.  It still has one homestead in original condition, and two now in ruins.  Many old farm fences for holding livestock still remain, as well as, water dams in old creek lines.  During this very hot summer at least two of the dams held water after small rainfall periods.  This short video shows a swamp wallaby coming down for a drink.  I check the dams regularly for foot prints in the wet mud.  This cute little wallaby was still quite happy to have a drink even though I was only ten metres away.  Even though bandicoots get most of their water from their diet of insects, I’m sure a few popped down for a drink as well, during the heat filled days.

So bring on Spring and hopefully some rain and cooler weather for everyone to enjoy, and for our program to keep bringing the bandicoot back from extinction.  I look forward to bringing you the news from our next count in my next report.

Once again, thank you to everyone involved in our Eastern Barred Bandicoot program, including members of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team, our valuable volunteers, and especially our kind Global Giving donors who make our activities at the Park possible.  Please consider giving again to our program as we look at rejuvenating our perimeter fence, to ensure breaches don’t occur in the future.  

Newborn Bandicoot with Travis, Project Officer
Newborn Bandicoot with Travis, Project Officer
Adult Eastern Barred Bandicoot in sparse grassland
Adult Eastern Barred Bandicoot in sparse grassland
Beautiful twilight image of part of our fenceline
Beautiful twilight image of part of our fenceline

Links:

One of our Eastern Barred Bandicoot
One of our Eastern Barred Bandicoot 'cleanskins'.

Welcome Friends in Conservation,

 

This report starts on a different note – click here to view some interesting footage taken while I was on my morning patrol of the fence enclosing our precious bandicoots.  It’s that time of the year again when male Eastern Grey Kangaroos will fight for breeding rights within their mob – and as you can see in the video, it’s quite a battle.  I was going about my business trying to do a morning patrol around the fence perimeter, but these two boys were not interested in my schedule, and I had to wait until the battle was over to continue my patrol.  We always talk about kangaroos in our safety assessment before we can start any work, ...you can now understand why!  These two were around six foot tall and can certainly pack a punch and a mighty kick!  So I was more than happy to wait for them to go about their business!

Now back to our bandicoots.  We have just completed our spring monitoring for this year, and with the daylight hours increasing since the September equinox, the bandicoots have lost precious darkness (approx. 2-3 hrs) in which to forage, making it harder for them to be trapped. This time last year we recorded 57 individuals. This year we were hoping to record around 80 individuals – so I am very happy to share the positive news of recording 110 individuals on site this Spring. It has been a dry winter with low rainfall, so there was some concern we wouldn’t achieve these results, as the grasslands have reduced more than expected.  But the Eastern Bared Bandicoot is very adaptive - as proven by these amazing numbers, passing of all their health checks and consistent overall great body condition.

These ‘hot of the press’ results also revealed a very healthy female population with more females being caught than in our past two sessions combined.  Twelve of the female Eastern Barred Bandicoot’s caught revealed a total of 23 pouch young, and another 24 showed signs of recent pouch evacuation, meaning many new young are independently exploring life in Woodlands.  We are proud to report that 50 ‘cleanskins’ were caught, all of which have been bred and born on site at Woodlands.  The recent purchase of new microchip supplies has already been depleted – being put to good use in chipping our cleanskins.  The new scanner is already being used, efficiently extracting new data and enabling us to extract vital research information promptly.  The new microchips and scanner have only been made possible through the generous donations that we have received from our committed and loyal donors (click here to see the release of a newly chipped Eastern Bared Bandicoot).

Conservation Volunteers Australia’s innovative Eastern Bared Bandicoot program will continue through the busy summer months ahead.  With the dryer than normal winter and spring in Victoria, and a hot summer ahead – maintaining the grasslands will become essential in ensuring the bandicoots can continue to thrive in a ‘perfect’ habitat.  This maintenance of the grasslands will undoubtedly impact on the results of our next monitoring session in April 2016.

Please enjoy these results, but we still have a way to go before reaching ‘full capacity’ in our Eastern Barred Bandicoot number at Woodlands.  We are certainly tracking and continuing to grow in the right direction, all due to your commitment to bringing the Eastern Bared Bandicoot back from extinction. 

Once again – thank you to everyone who helps to make this program successful, including our valuable volunteers, members of the Eastern Bared Bandicoot Recovery Team, everyone involved from Conservation Volunteers Australia and Parks Victoria, but most especially our generous donors who make the program sustainable.

Travis Scicchitano, Woodlands Project Officer. 

Part of our new microchip supply.  Thanks!
Part of our new microchip supply. Thanks!

Links:

CVA Volunteer releasing Eastern Barred Bandicoot
CVA Volunteer releasing Eastern Barred Bandicoot

Dear Friends in Conservation,

We are delighted to report positive news on the pesky fox front – the old rickety fence has done its job – and we have been fox free for the past twelve months.  The fence might not look as nice as some of the newer models around, but it’s doing the job!  The addition of the floppy top, combined with regular fence patrols, is working effectively – and we are moving ahead.  The floppy top fence is designed so as an excluded animal attempts to climb the overhang, it bends down and the animal will let go and fall to the ground. The floppy top then springs back to the original position, ready for another assault (view diagram).  So well done to all the volunteers, who assist in the regular fence checks and repairs..

Travis Scicchitano, Woodlands Project Officer said “Records continue to be broken at Woodlands Historic Park as Eastern Barred Bandicoot numbers continue to surge. Here’s a snapshot.  In November 2014, we recorded 57 bandicoots, 86 were recorded in March 2015, and an amazing 114 bandicoots were recorded in July this year – that’s a 100% increase!  Even more exciting is the 46 new bandicoots, that had never been caught before – so breeding is continuing at a healthy rate as they try to fill their protected area.”  As we continue to share the marvellous success of our bandicoots, we have to applaud the ladies, with recent pouch inspections revealing an astounding 94% of them showing recent signs of having released pouch young.  This is shown by elongated teats and lactating teats in the pouch, meaning young bandicoots have recently vacated the pouch, old enough to search and set up their own territories.

We have some encouraging news following up on our high possum trap interference.  Twenty new traps were built with new door inserts to make it more difficult for possums to enter, but still allow bandicoots to freely enter for a tasty reward.  The twenty new traps were placed in a section that had recorded the highest amount of possum interference.  In just one row of nine traps, past results showed an average capture of up to seven possums and two closed traps due to possum ‘playfulness’.  With the trap modifications in place, the capture rates in this same row, was reduced to just one possum per day.  This is such a great start. Seeing the traps in action over four days has given us vital feedback to make a few more tweaks to improve the design even more.  Adding to the success of the modified traps was the capture and ability to monitor bandicoots in this zone; previously an extremely rare occurrence, even though evidence of bandicoot activity was visible. We have a very special treat for our donors, a sneak peak at two Eastern Barred Bandicoots being released after completion of their vital health checks (view Video 1) (view Video 2).

So thank you to all our supporters and your life giving donations, that are improving our monitoring techniques and making it easier and less stressful on the bandicoots.  But we still need your help as more modifications are required.  The new trap designs have changed the way our trap covers work.  The waterproof covers are vital for our trap functionality and most importantly, in keeping our bandicoots warm and protected.  Your generous donations will help purchase new covers for all the new traps once ready.  We are also at the stage that microchipping and monitoring the bandicoots is essential to ensure genetic security.  We desperately need to purchase more microchips, as well as a new microchip scanner.  The newer scanners process and upload the data directly to the database, facilitating real time information and eliminating all chances of human data entry errors.  So please keep giving, as it only improves the quality of the project and the longevity of the bandicoot’s ongoing survival.

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

Project Leader Travis releasing a beloved
Project Leader Travis releasing a beloved 'coot'
Adorable Eastern Barred Bandicoot after release
Adorable Eastern Barred Bandicoot after release
Showing their vulnerability - a Bandicoot home
Showing their vulnerability - a Bandicoot home
"Should I go, or, should I stay...hmmm."
"Should I go, or, should I stay...hmmm."

Links:

Eastern Barred Bandicoot
Eastern Barred Bandicoot

During March this year we ran our first monitoring session since last November, and we’re excited to bring you the latest results!  This latest monitoring found 86 individual Eastern Barred Bandicoots, which is up from 57 individuals caught last November.  That is a huge jump in population growth with animals found right throughout the entire site. 

Equally pleasing was the health of the animals. Conservation Volunteers Australia’s Project Officer, Travis Scicchitano reports: “Melbourne Zoo’s veterinary staff were based onsite conducting extra health checks and all animals were given a clean bill of health - we were told that they were in excellent condition.  This means the Woodlands site is proving to be the perfect environment for our little fury friends.

There were concerns that due to a very hot summer with lower rainfall the bandicoots may have not bred. Low rainfall results in the ground being too hard to dig and food sources may have been low, however this doesn’t seem to have been the case at the Woodlands site.  There were still plenty of surface insects to eat and our bandicoots must have found them all!  According to Travis, “Out of the 86 individuals found, 30 females were caught.  Amazingly, 28 of those females were carrying pouch young totalling 54 - there are going to be so many new babies running around in the grassland shortly. Overall, the indication is the needs of the bandicoots are being completely fulfilled and they are able to get along naturally just the way we had planned for them.  A great example of nature recovering on its own at its best, with some help from us keeping them safe from introduced predators and looking after their grasslands of course!” 

With all of this success, we are still having interference with our traps from possums. Although possums are native animals, we don’t want to trap them as part of this program – our interest is in the much rarer bandicoots that need our help! Travis says, “There was an 86% closure rate of traps when checked.  This was largely a result of possums getting there first and shaking the cages closed, as well as lots of possums being caught. To combat this, we have started our trials with the new traps and have had some positive results.  We’ve noticed the possums getting there first and losing interest with the new door size, which has allowed our bandicoots to be caught instead.  Trials are still running for the best design but we are on our way to improving our research with more effective trapping.”  You can see our latest monitoring video demonstrating this.

These really are fantastic results that mean bandicoot numbers are moving rapidly forward and bringing one of our most endangered species back from the brink of extinction.

Thank you again for your support and generous donations. If you’re able to donate again or simply spread the word about this amazing species, you will be helping us to ensure the Eastern Barred Bandicoot will have a Wild Future.

Releasing the bandicoot after the health check
Releasing the bandicoot after the health check
Health check complete!
Health check complete!

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Conservation Volunteers Australia

Location: Mount Pleasant, Victoria - Australia
Website: http:/​/​www.conservationvolunteers.com.au
Project Leader:
Madeline Townsend
Mt Helen, Vic Australia
$3,835 raised of $25,000 goal
 
 
94 donations
$21,165 to go
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