Prey switching - What will happen when the second strain of calicivirus hits?

Admin Aridrecovery - Monday, September 19, 2016

I am about to start a project here at Arid Recovery that will study how a new strain of a virus used to control rabbit numbers will affect the ecosystem here. What will a drop in rabbit numbers do to the population of cats and foxes, as well as our threatened native species?

The original strain of calicivirus is arguably Australia’s most successful biological control method – it had huge impact on rabbits, which have caused untold ecological damage across the country. When the virus was released in 1997, rabbits went from plague proportions to scarce in a matter of weeks.

Rabbits fighting back

Rabbit numbers have been slowly recovering since as they have been evolving immunity to the virus, but it is still out there doing its job such that rabbit numbers have never quite recovered to pre-1997 levels. The removal of so many rabbits from the landscape in a short space of time had a huge impact across the whole ecosystem.

Predators turn on the natives

Rabbit impacts have been studied in detail around Roxby Downs over the last 30 years - check this paper out! When the first calicivirus came through, the population rabbit numbers crashed to virtually nothing. This had major flow-on effects. With fewer rabbits, cats and foxes lost their main food source so not only did their populations plummet, but they also became a lot hungrier and turned to eating more native animals in a process known as prey switching (analyses found a greater proportion of native animals in fox and cat scats after calici).

This put extra pressure on many native species, and it is possible a population of rock-wallabies went extinct as a result (follow up here). In the long term however, the knockdown of rabbits appeared to have some incredible benefits. Cat and fox numbers fell and have stayed down since calici, and over the 20 years since many native animals have rebounded in South Australia including dusky hopping-mouse, plains mouse and the crest-tailed mulgara (read more here).

A new strain of virus is coming

There is a new strain of calicivirus on its way to Roxby, to which most rabbits here are yet to evolve any immunity. My project will look at how native prey species will be affected by controlling rabbit numbers with this new strain of the virus. I will be comparing the extent to which cats and foxes switch from hunting rabbits to killing native species, versus how much the populations of feral predator will fall or rise.

We have a perfect opportunity to test this near Roxby Downs in 2016/2017 as the new strain of calicivirus becomes established in the area. This new strain (RHDV2) is an altered form of the original, and has been killing many rabbits that are resistant to the original strain.

Originating in Canberra, it has moved across south-east Australia in a wave and is currently in the Flinders Ranges. It will create a neat before and after experiment. I will use the Arid Recovery Dingo Pen as a contained area where we can track exact numbers of cats, rabbits and native animals as the drama unfolds.

Cats with cameras

By tracking numbers and locations of native animals I can make a detailed analysis of exactly what happens when rabbit numbers crash. I will measure the extent of prey switching to find out how many more native animals are killed by cats after rabbit numbers fall.

To do this, I will need to follow cats on their daily journey of destruction. I’ve been fitting cats with video cameras to record what they hunt and how they behave, as well as using small GPS units so I can see where they go. Here is an example of one of my collared cats ready to hunt! This will enable me to measure the actual kill-rates of feral cats, and estimate the impact of their predatory behaviour on native animals before and after rabbit knockdown.

I will record the area covered by each feral cat, the number of rabbits and natives killed every 24 hours and the total number of animals killed by the whole population of cats. From this I can calculate the total predation pressure.

I may find that native animals are at their most vulnerable when rabbits decline and that during those times we should ramp up predator control. Or it might make no difference. What we learn will be useful for protecting vulnerable species that persist in refuges and for planning threatened species translocations.




Figures 2 and 3: Cats have been fitted with cameras in the Dingo Pen to observe predation and to document what occurs when the second strain of calicivirus strikes Roxby Downs. Photo credit: Hugh McGregor

Written By Hugh McGregor, in partnership with the University of Tasmania and National Environment Science Programme. 


Reference:

McGregor, H., Legge, S., Jones, M.E., and Johnson, C.N. (2015) Feral cats are better killers in open habitats, revealed by animal-borne video. PLoS ONE 10(8): e0133915. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0133915

Pedler, R.D., Brandle, R., Read, J.L., Southgate, R., Bird, P., and Moseby, K.E. (2016) Rabbit biocontrol and landscape-scale recovery of threatened desert mammals. Conservation Biology, 30(4), 774-782. 

Read, J., and Bowen, Z. (2001) Population dynamics, diet and aspects of the biology of feral cats and foxes in arid South Australia. Wildlife Research, 28(2), 195-203.

Green Army ‘fights’ for Arid Recovery values

Kimberley Solly - Friday, November 13, 2015

“It’s going to be a hotter-than-average summer”. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that sentiment over the last few months, and judging by the conditions of last few weeks (and the swathes of meteorological and oceanographic data relating to El Nino) it’s a fact that’s hard to dispute.  For a Project like the Arid Recovery Reserve, this means the heat reflecting off those polished red rocks, and the hot sand that pours into your boots on the ascent of every dune, will be harder to bear than ever.  But I’m not deterred.  The necessity for vigilance regarding the maintenance and welfare of the Reserve’s infrastructure, and its many furry inhabitants is something that doesn’t go away just because it’s hotter than usual.  A team of motivated and dedicated ‘warriors’ is required, and that is something I will be proud to contribute this summer in my role as Supervisor for the Roxby Downs Green Army Project.


Working hard to maintain the integrity of our fence. Photo credit: Adrian Friedel

The Green Army is an Australian Government initiative open to young people aged 17-24, who are looking to develop skills, undertake training and gain experience in the delivery of conservation projects.  Through the Green Army programme, participants enhance their opportunities for careers and further training in conservation. The Roxby Downs Green Army Project works in partnership with the Arid Recovery Reserve to achieve goals relating to species conservation in the arid zone. My team is only small (three people) but we work diligently to complete a range of objectives including fence maintenance, pest and weed surveys and vegetation monitoring.

The values of the Arid Recovery Reserve stand for a lot of things. Among them is the demonstration that a lot of hard-work and dedication towards a particular cause can eventually pay off.  I like to think that my team is following in the footsteps of Reserve ‘pioneers’, who have dedicated much time and energy in building and maintaining this unique facility. One of the major drivers in achieving this is ‘passion’, and ‘passion’ is something I find reflected in all of my team members, whether it be a desire to learn more about local flora and fauna or just the willingness to work hard on a task for the satisfaction of seeing a result take effect.  Each set of eyes on the Reserve improves the ability to detect unusual diggings or evidence of species that may (or may not) supposed to be there, and contributes towards the ever-expanding record of opportunistic sightings and phenomena.

The opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the Reserve’s furry (and sometimes scaly) critters is a fantastic reward and definitely something my team looks forward to. When a visiting researcher sticks their hand up looking for assistance, we are quick to jump at the opportunity.  Constructing little pens to trap burrowing animals is a job that requires multiple sets of eventually blistered and calloused hands, but the 5am starts and the hordes of flies are soon forgotten when given the opportunity to handle and process a captured bettong or a bilby. We are very lucky.



Green Army participants setting up a pen trap to catch a Bilby and then processing their Bilby bounty! Photo credit: Adrian Friedel

I want my team members to come away from this Project, at the end of February, seeing this unique environment through different eyes, and knowing that they have contributed towards important conservation goals.  We are currently looking for an additional team member for the summer and the next Green Army Project begins in February (and will run for around 22 weeks). Anyone who is interested or has any questions is invited to contact me by emailing me at greenarmy@aridrecovery.org.au.


Written by Adrian Friedel, Supervisor for the Roxby Downs Green Army Project.

Keep your eyes peeled for buffel grass

Kimberley Solly - Thursday, October 22, 2015


The Buffel Busters are a volunteer group that have worked tirelessly over the past three years to eradicate buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris) from the Roxby Downs region. Buffel grass is the most invasive weed that arid Australia has experienced. It grows quickly to form a dense monoculture, which is far more fire-loving and flammable than native plant species in the arid zone. Buffel grass can outcompete all native understorey plants and invasion of an ecosystem can significantly increase the frequency and intensity of fires, which can eliminate fire sensitive plants such as the long-lived Western Myall, Mulga and native pine trees which you see around Roxby downs. The long term efforts of Buffel Buster volunteers such as Reece Pedler means that the Roxby region has a fighting chance to nip buffel grass in the bud.

 

“We’re trying to protect our long-lived trees, and other plants and animals that are vulnerable to intense fires” said Reece Pedler.

 

We’ve talked about buffel grass before on the Arid Recovery blog (here and here), but we haven’t focussed on what you can do at home to identify buffel grass and make sure you’re not harbouring this declared weed in your garden. We've made a handy poster to help you identify buffel grass at home! Check it out now. 

Buffel grass has two key defining features which separate it from other grass species.

 

First defining feature: Remove an individual seed from the fluffy seed head. If the seed has 9 or more bristles coming from the base of the seed, it is buffel grass.

 


Many bristles come from the base of the individual seed. Credit: Cara Edwards



Second defining feature: After seeds are removed from the stem the stem is rough and wiggly.




The stem is rough and wiggly once seeds are removed. Credit: Kimberley Solly


Other features important for identifying buffel grass include one seed head per stem and the fluffy purple-straw coloured seed head. Some grass species which may be confused with buffel grass do not have the rough and wiggly stem and have less bristles that usually come from the middle or top of the seed burr.


It is particularly important to look out for buffel grass after rain events. Small infestations can be removed by digging out plants, ensuring the deep, tough root system is removed. If you would like more information or would like to join the Buffel Busters on their next working bee please contact Arid Recovery on (08) 8671 2402 or like us on Facebook!


Written By Kimberley Solly, Scientific and Education Officer

Quoll scat-venger hunts!

Kimberley Solly - Monday, October 12, 2015

I’m sure you’ve all been waiting in anticipation for our next blog after the introduction of our newest members of the Arid Recovery family, two female Western Quolls called Sepia and Koombana. We left you hanging, pondering what it is that Sepia and Koombana have been eating.

In the Flinders Ranges quolls are preying on adult rabbits and sheltering in their warrens, however in the feral free Northern Expansion at Arid Recovery, there aren’t any rabbits to feed on. While Koombana and Sepia are living in bettong warrens, it is not yet known if they are eating Burrowing Bettongs, or other native mammals. Koombana and Sepia’s dietary composition is being monitored by collecting and analysing their scats. Just two scats have been found while on scat scavenger hunts surrounding Koombana and Sepia’s nesting sites, so The ARC’s Project Officer Bec West has given the girls a helping hand by creating a public toilet for them to use. Quoll scats donated by the Flinders Ranges population are placed on toothpicks to replicate a latrine, which would be used by quolls in the wild. One of the quolls visited the latrine, had a scout around, but did not leave us a scat treasure!

Quolls are carnivorous marsupials- can you see mammal fur in this scat?

Remote cameras captured one of the inquisitive quolls investigating the human-made latrine site. Western Quoll scats (collected from the Flinders Ranges) are mounted on toothpicks along the top of the log. Credit: Bec West


Discovering quoll scats across the 30 km2 fenced expansion is proving to be much like finding a needle in a haystack. Although named after shipwrecks like the other females released into the Flinders Ranges, Koombana is proving herself to be an exceptional explorer for which the male quolls are named after. Females in the Flinders Ranges have an average home range size of 4 km2 and should have core home ranges with very little overlap with other females. Elsewhere, males released into Francois Peron National Park in Shark Bay moved 30-40 km, some moved more than 100 km from the release site. Bec West had to resort to using a plane to radio-track the pair of quolls from the air in the first few weeks after release as their high mobility and lack of high points on the sand dunes made it very difficult to keep up with them on foot. 


Shelter locations for each of the female quolls since release on 06/05/15. Red point displays the first location (release pen) for each quoll and the dotted line indicates locations in date order from that point until 25/08/15. Credit: Bec West

Finding the quolls is difficult enough, so you can imagine trying to find their scats is even harder. Koombana and Sepia were originally fitted with a VHF radio transmitting collar, which is commonly used to radio track the quolls to den sites during the day. We search high and low around these den sites, but still have only found two scats! Western Quolls move swiftly along the ground with their greatest activity through the night. Radio tracking the quolls at night with just a VHF collar is near impossible, but knowing the whereabouts of Koombana and Sepia between their daylight den sites would be of great benefit. Sepia’s collar has been swapped to a VHF collar with GPS so that fixed coordinates of her position at 9 pm, 12 am and 3 am can be downloaded. After two weeks the collar will be swapped to Koombana so that we can piece together a pattern of nocturnal foraging activity which can be used to narrow our scat search area! 

Written by Kimberley Solly, Scientific and Education Officer


Bilby Tails: how to catch a bilby (Macrotis lagotis)

Admin Aridrecovery - Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The second Sunday in September is dedicated to National Bilby Day, so what better reason to tell you of our work on the Greater Bilby in the Arid Recovery Reserve. And it just so happens that last week was a busy week on the reserve fitting radio transmitters to bilby tails as part of a project looking at predator awareness in the Greater Bilby, which is being carried out by Lisa Steindler (a PhD student from UNSW as part of our ARC Project). By fitting a transmitter the bilby’s location can be found, so long as you are in a kilometre range.  Knowing where the bilbies are, in particular their burrow, is very useful for Lisa when it comes to setting up her experiments outside the bilby’s home.


However, before a bilby can be radio tracked a transmitter needs to be attached, but only once the animal has been caught -some would say this is the fun part! Here’s also where a team of volunteers comes in handy. Catching a bilby in a cage trap is quite unlikely, instead fast pairs of legs are much more effective. But why does this need a team I hear you ask? Well bilbies come out at night, therefore a person with a powerful torch, called the spotlighter, is important. It is also handy to have a driver to allow a larger area to be searched. Also, when the spotlighter sees a bilby, being able to drive alongside the running animal allows some distance to be gained on the bilby, increasing the likelihood of a catch. When the car stops you need a runner (the final member of the team) to jump out of the car and run after the bilby. Here’s where a fast runner is essential! Believe me, bilbies are surprisingly fast. But they also have the ability to rapidly zig zag from side to side, confusing the best of runners. Therefore to keep track of the bilby two good runners are often better than one! After successfully catching the bilby (using a net or by hand) the animal is then placed into a dark, fleecy bag to keep it calm. All be it fun remember we were catching bilbies for an important reason, so please do not attempt to try this at home.


Unlike the other animals on the Reserve that have radio collars, bilbies have transmitters that are fixed to the base of their tail using Elastoplast. Previous studies have found that bilbies can often get their feet stuck in collars, so tail transmitters are much safer. However, attaching the transmitters directly to the tail fur of the bilbies is not effective -sand is more likely to get stuck in the Elastoplast  and cause the transmitter to fall off, so the transmitters must be taped to the skin…This is when hairdresser Lisa comes into action (see the photos below)!


The skilled art of fitting a transmitter to a Greater Bilby's tail! Credit: Ruth Shepherd

After the bilby’s transmitter has been attached other important data such as the animal’s body condition is taken by feeling how much fat the bilby has on the rump area. Some of the fur is also collected to be sent away for analysis for cortisol levels (a measure of stress). This allows Lisa to compare stress levels between bilbies living in the expansion with the cats, and the expansion with no predators.

The final piece of data collected is behavioural data which is done when the animal is released in the place where it was caught. Animals differ in how bold or shy they are, and having one of these qualities may make them better at surviving predation (the ARC project is researching this for bettongs, bilbies and stick-nest rats on the Reserve). Bilby boldness is measured by how long it takes, and how much encouragement it takes (by giving the bilby gentle nudges every 3 seconds), before the bilby leaves the bag.

All of the radio tagged bilbies are monitored by Lisa to see their usual pattern of burrow use and behaviour and then how this changes when the bilbies are presented with a model predator or predator poo outside their burrow. Lisa will compare the responses of bilbies that have been living with cats to those that have not to see if there are any differences. This data will be incredibly useful for Arid Recovery in the long-term to test whether predator awareness of bilbies can be improved if they live with a small number of predators (cats in this case). Lisa will also be able to determine whether there are certain behaviours that we can select for when choosing release animals to make them more likely to survive when faced with real predators in reintroductions outside the reserve.

This article is in honour of the Greater Bilby, once common throughout arid Australia but now only occupies 20% of its former range. We hope through the efforts at Arid Recovery that bilbies will be able to be re-introduced into other areas of arid Australia and their numbers will begin to increase. 


Written by Ruth Shepherd, Arid Recovery and ARC Research intern.

How the Tricky Stickies got their name- How to catch a rat!

Kimberley Solly - Thursday, August 27, 2015

Greater stick-nest rats (Leporillus conditor) are best known for their ability to build themselves a home out of sticks; however their nests can be well hidden and hard to find.  For this reason the stickies have remained quite elusive to researchers at Arid Recovery since their re-introduction in 1999. 

Can you spot the ear tag on this Greater stick-nest rat? Credit: Casey Harris


Another factor that has hindered researchers getting to know our stickies are the boisterous burrowing bettongs (Bettogia lesueur). There are many more bettongs at Arid Recovery than stick-nest rats so if you set cage traps for stickies outside their nests you’ll most likely find them full of bettongs. One method that’s had more success is to fit a plywood board to the front of the cage trap with only a small hole for the rats to squeeze through. However, not to be stopped the burrowing bettongs have become exceptionally good at bouncing and knocking over the cage traps to try to get to the bait inside.

So when Bec West the Research Officer for the ARC linkage project needed to trap and fit radiocollars to at least 20 stick-nest rats she needed to think outside of the box. Bec found that the best way to catch a rat was by using a ‘ratstaurant’, a nifty excluder with an even better name! A ratstaurant looks a bit like a top hat made of 50mm chicken wire mesh and pegged into the ground with droppers. The rats can squeeze through the mesh and the bettongs can’t dig under. Place an Elliot trap with a nutritious and healthy treat of carrots inside the ratstaurant and bingo! You can catch stickies and not bettongs.


Ratstaurant monitored by remote camera. Credit: Bec West


“There’s nothing more rewarding than finding a Greater stick-nest rat in a trap, it means we’ve outwitted the bettongs” said Bec West.



A Tricky Stickie caught in the act feeding within a ratstaurant. Credit: Bec West


Twenty-one stickies have now been fitted with a unique ear tag number and a radio collar, which continues to provide more and more information on these secretive stickies. Before this study commenced 30 known nests were monitored biannually to check for activity, the list has now grown to 63 nests. Radiotracking stickies has allowed Bec and her team to discover new nests across the 60 km2 area that the Greater stick-nest rats inhabit. Previous observations on stickies found that they sheltered in penguin burrows on islands and rabbit burrows on mainland Australia (Moseby & Bice, 2004; Troughton, 1924). The stickies at Arid Recovery have been tracked to new nests, but also to new bettong warrens.  While the burrows may not show signs of stickie activity aboveground, they may be crucial for sheltering stickies over relatively cold winters. The male rats that are collared have also been roaming far and wide (up to 1.5km between shelter sites) so they have had the team out on ‘stickie-hunts’ trying to track them down. You can see why they have got the name ‘Tricky Stickies’ from the research team – hard to find, hard to trap and hard to track!

Now that the rats are collared the ARC team will set traps at each nest twice a year to better understand the survival, movement and nest dynamics of the stickies. The team are also testing their predator savviness by seeing how closely then can approach stickies at night, and how they behave when they are exposed to different predator (dingo, cat, mulga snake, quoll) scents while feeding. We wonder whether they will continue to be so ‘tricky’.

Written by Kimberley Solly, Scientific and Education Officer and Bec West, Research Officer for ARC Tackling Prey Naiveté Project

References:

Moseby K.E. and Bice J. (2004). A trial reintroduction of the Greater Stick-nest Rat (Leporillus conditor) in arid South Australia. Ecological Management and Restoration 5(2) 118-124.

Troughton ELG (1924) The Stick-nest building rats of Australia, Australian Museum Magazine, 11, 18-23. 

The last of the dingo transects

Developer 2 (MM) - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The topic of dingoes often sparks a range of opinions amongst conservationists and pastoralists. There are many uncertainties about the animal, including the exact date that the dingo arrived on Australian shores, if the dingo should be classed as a native Australian animal, and queries about the role the dingo plays in the current ecosystem. 

Arid Recovery’s Dingo Project has been investigating the detailed interaction between dingoes, cats and foxes since 2007. The Dingo Project has studied the role of dingoes in suppressing cats and foxes in arid Australia, the influence this has on prey populations, and if there is a possible net benefit for threatened species conservation.

Arid Recovery staff have been conducting track transects for the Dingo Project for five years. Covering a substantial area on foot at both the 37km² Dingo Pen and the control site at Mulgaria Station, an indication of dingo, fox, cat, rabbit and small mammal activity is derived from the presence of tracks along 200m transects. The three main habitat sites assessed are dune, swale and creek line, with ATV’s and 4wd vehicles darting from one site to the next.

The track transects are dragged in the afternoon, and then checked for the following two consecutive mornings. A count of rabbit and small mammal tracks is conducted, and predator tracks are recorded as a presence or absence.

 

 

Last week saw the completion of the final dingo track transects. Warm, calm days provided ideal weather conditions to finish the last of the data collection. Arid Recovery Education and Community Officer Anni Walsh assisted with track transects at the control site on Mulgaria Station.

“The completion of the last of the track transects for the Dingo Project is a huge success. It is always a gamble conducting such a large scale track monitoring session during this time of year, as November is generally a month of strong winds in Roxby Downs. However, the weather was kind to us and transects were completed in four days, with an initial first look at the data suggesting good results!”

Arid zone ecologist Katherine Moseby will now input the latest results alongside the five year data set, closely analysing trends in predator activity and prey abundance. The results will then be published in a peer reviewed paper.

To find out more about the Dingo Project, take a look at Katherine’s previous dingo paper Interactions between a Top Order Predator and Exotic Mesopredators in the Australian Rangelands

 

 

 

 

Flocking pigeons

Developer 2 (MM) - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Over the past few months a group of volunteers have been watching the amazing site of thousands of Flock Bronzewings swarming across the arid landscape north of the Arid Recovery Reserve.

AR's resident cinematography, Travis Hague, has put together some footage of the phenomena.

Flock Bronzewing from LonelyOakfilms on Vimeo.


For more information about Flock Bronzewings, become a member of Arid Recovery and receive the new edition of the AR newsletter, with a feature story on these amazing birds.

Summertime Snake Awareness

Developer 2 (MM) - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

This Tuesday saw Roxby Downs’ first Community Snake Awareness Session and we were amazed at the turnout. Over 65 people attended the talk by Living with Wildlife principal Geoff Coombe and were even privileged enough to meet and greet some of his scaly companions. Of note; the Red-bellied Black Snake, a Tiger Snake, and the Western Brown fondly named Psycho.

Throughout the presentation we learned about not only the types of snakes we would find in Roxby and surrounds (the Mulga, Woma and Western Brown) but also how to avoid attracting them, what to wear in situations in which you might find one, and what to do if you get bitten.

Roxby's introduction to Living with Wildlife

For those of you who were unable to attend, these are a few of the most important things to remember when it comes to snakes and when dealing with them:

  1. It’s true that snakes are more scared of you then you are of them! Respect them and you shouldn’t have a problem!
  2. Stand still when you get too close, as Geoff mentioned, snakes don’t go around biting what they think are trees!
  3. Don’t give them places to hide where you don’t want them going. e.g. large bushes or garbage piles close to the house (they are only trying to hide and get out of the sun!)
  4. Wear appropriate clothing when out bushwalking etc. (long pants and closed in shoes) and;
  5. If you DO get bitten, apply appropriate first aid and get help immediately, don’t clean the wound (the venom on your skin can help identify the snake that bit you) and try not to move (you don’t want the venom to spread!).

 

A native Woma Python meeting the crowd

A big thankyou to Geoff, and his assistant Greg, and everyone who came to support this initiative, we hope that you came away with some valuable information and can feel a little more confident if faced by a snake. We sure learnt a lot!!

And if you want to know more feel free to visit Geoff Coombe’s Living with Wildlife website at http://www.livingwithwildlife.net/.  

Getting up close and personal to a Woma Python

Hands on education excites and enlightens

Developer 2 (MM) - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Biodiversity is essential for human existence, providing many goods and services to create a healthy environment, such as clean air and fresh water. It is vital that we all do our bit to help the environment, however sometimes we need a little reminder.

Arid Recovery takes great pride in educating school groups on the importance of biodiversity and conservation. The educational work that we do at AR is a step towards securing environmental awareness for generations to come.

This week we had students from Port Lincoln High School visit the Arid Recovery Reserve. The group of five students arrived late Monday afternoon, just in time to set some cage traps as the sun was going down. It was then time for dinner and bed before the early morning start at 4:30am to check the cage traps. The students were delighted as they had successfully trapped bettongs, Stick-nest Rats and bandicoots!

During the day students participated in various hands-on workshops to give them an idea of the monitoring, maintenance and research work that the team at Arid Recovery undertake on a daily basis. These workshops compliment the students’ studies towards a Certificate I in Conservation Land Management. Participating in track identification on the sand dunes, navigating their way around using a map and a GPS, and joining Ecologist Cat Lynch on a walk to discuss the common plants of the region were just some of the activities that kept the kids busy.

Education and Community Officer Anni Walsh demonstrates Elliott trapping 

“Educational visits like this are incredibly beneficial for students. Not only do they get to experience what it is like to be an ecologist working in the arid zone by learning tracks and flora, they also get to experience a variety of different species using various trapping methods,” explains Education and Community Officer Anni Walsh. “It’s a real thrill for the kids to hold a small dragon, or see a Western Barred Bandicoot with joeys in her pouch, and gives a further appreciation of the unique natural wonders of the arid zone.”

The satisfaction of completing 100m of fencing in the hot sun, and not getting lost during the GPS scavenger hunt where up there with some of the memorable moments of the trip.  However, the students all agreed that despite the early start, the cage trapping was easily the highlight of their trip. Our cute and furry threatened species have again captured the hearts of those fortunate to work with them!

Blog

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30 Nov, 2017
Stickie Haven to go ahead We put the Greater Stick-nest Rat (http://www.aridrecovery.org.au/greater-stick-nest-rat) in the spotlight  .. ..
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Arid recovery is a conservation initiative supported by:
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