Category Archives: WIldlife Conservation

Anything to do with wildlife conservation, primarily local but also Austraian and worldwide

The Araucaria team seek wildlife on an island near Brisbane

The Melaleuca Wetlands are adjacent to the beach
The Melaleuca Wetlands are adjacent to the beach

For some years now we’ve been conducting tours to Coochiemudlo Island, an attractive and varied little subtropical  island with long sandy beaches over which thousands of blue crabs march as the tide recedes, rocky platforms, mangroves, coastal woodlands and red cliffs much prized by the Aboriginals, who used the red ochre for body painting and trade with mainland groups. Bush stone-curlews, with their arresting stares, raptors, butterflies, bush-birds, shorebirds and a variety of sea creatures in rock pools all add to the charm of this island, so close to Brisbane yet often so deserted as holiday-makers rush to the far more commercialized Gold Coast.

Unlike most crabs, they travel forwards instead of sideways' often marching across the beach in search of food as the tide goes out: hence the name 'soldier crab.'
Unlike most crabs, they travel forwards instead of sideways’ often marching across the beach in search of food as the tide goes out: hence the name ‘soldier crab.’
There are plenty of bush stone-curlews wandering around the island, and their weird, wild calls at night add to the atmosphere.
There are plenty of bush stone-curlews wandering around the island, and their weird, wild calls at night add to the atmosphere.

Darren and I have recently been employed by Coochiemudlo Coast Care (under a grant from Redlands Shire Council) to conduct a fauna survey o the Melaleuca (tea-tree) Wetlands over four seasons (mid-summer, mid-autumn, mid-winter and mid-spring, with a view to enhancing conservation management plans. We completed the first session in January, with a team of volunteers to help set, check and wash traps (used to capture animals which are promptly released after identification).

The delights of staying overnight, listening to the weird, wild calls of the stone-curlews, watching the sun and moon rise over the waters and wandering safe bush tracks at night are encouraging us to add overnight stays to our island tours. We may also in future involve our tourists in some weed eradication (an on-going threat to the native understorey plants) in conjunction with the excellent programs by Coochiemudlo Coast Care, and spotting species in a monitoring program.  Let us know in comments below or by emailing us at info@learnaboutwildlife.com if interested.

Exploring the Wetlands. Tea-tree wetlands have disappeared from much of their former range on the mainland.
Exploring the Wetlands. Tea-tree wetlands have disappeared from much of their former range on the mainland.
The Melaleuca Wetlands are on the edge of an east-facing beach, and we were rewarded on our very first night by a beautiful moonrise.
The Melaleuca Wetlands are on the edge of an east-facing beach, and we were rewarded on our very first night by a beautiful moonrise.

Results will not be public until completion of the survey, but here are a few photos from our visit, which included live trapping and release, walking the trails day and night and setting motion-sensing cameras.

Bearded dragon eating one of the thousands of cicadas that were calling during the survey.
Bearded dragon eating one of the thousands of cicadas that were calling during the survey.

 

Striped marshfrogs were plentiful at night.
Striped marshfrogs were plentiful at night.
A net-casting spider. Instead of sitting in a large web they make a small one to throw over their prey.
A net-casting spider. Instead of sitting in a large web they make a small one to throw over their prey.

World Parks Congress

I’ve just attended the World Parks Congress on behalf of Wildlife Tourism Australia Inc.

Citizen science was featured in the Eye on the Reef display
Citizen science was featured in the Eye on the Reef display

This important congress is held only once every 10 years, and this time it was in Sydney.  The previous one was in South Africa, and at the opening ceremony here in Sydney we watched a video of part of Nelson Mandela’s speech on the importance of protected areas for both biodiversity and people, and were then addressed by his grandson who had flown in for the event.  The next will be held in Russia in 2024.

The organisers were expecting about 3,000 delegates: instead we had over 6,000, representing 170 countries!

Promises werte made and goals were set.  Delegates n he nature conservation stream agreed that by 2020 one-third of the oceans should be designated as no-take areas, to allow fish and other marine creatures to breed up to pre-exploitation levels and re-poluate the remaining two-thirds. Currently only 1% of the ocean is thus protected. The president of Madagascar promised to triple the amount of marine protected areas around his country, Gabon and Bangladesh pledged to create marine protected areas, and our own environment minister Greg Hunt declared there would never be drilling or dumping on the Great Barrier Reef, that he would work in with other countries to protect the Coral Triangle and the world’s oceans, and that China and Australia had signed an agreement not to allow mining in Antarctica. He also acknowledged the number of extinct and endangered terrestrial mammals in Australia and expressed a commitment to protecting our remaining species.

Much was said about the importance of protected areas to physical and mental health of humans, and the desirability of attracting young people into our parks. I presented a short talk on this theme, and the value of youth becoming involved in citizen science while travelling, including the opportunities presented by Wildlife Tourism Australia’s research network: http://www.wildliferesearchnetwork.org/

Just prior to the Congress, I also led a Parallel Event on behalf of Wildlife Tourism Australia to discuss wildlife tourism and biodiversity conservation n our parks. See http://www.wildlifetourism.org.au/wildlife-tourism-workshop-in-sydney-november-2014/ for details.

The dedication and bravery of rangers worldwide was honoured by awards and speeches, especially those who frequently risked their lives.  A long list of those who had in fact died while performing their duties was displayed. Read more about these rangers on http://thingreenline.org.au/story/ Some ways you can assist rangers was presented by the Big Life Group: https://biglife.org/

IUCN has long been known for its Red List of endangered animals.  At this Congress they launched the Green List, a positive step to reward those protected areas who are doing a great job on a number of important criteria. The first areas to be accepted for the Green List are situated  in Australia, South Korea, China, Italy, France, Spain, Kenya and Colombia. Read more on this at: http://www.iucn.org/about/work/programmes/gpap_home/?18617/Green-is-the-new-gold

The TAPAS (Tourism and Protected Areas)  group creed a schedule for all those interested in the connection between tourism and conservation, and I attended a number of the presentations on this theme.

Visit http://worldparkscongress.org/ for further details of this exciting event.

 

 

Frugivory and seed dispersal at Araucaria, SEQ

 

Wompoo Fruitdove eating bangalow palm fruits
Wompoo Fruitdove eating bangalow palm fruits

Animals obviously need plants, but many plants also need animals. If all seeds drop beneath the mother tree, they’ll be competing with their mother and with their siblings for light, water, space and nutrients, and there may be heavy shade under the mother. They are also more easily found by seed-eating animals if they are in a big clump  on the ground. The tree has a better chance of contributing to the next generation if its seeds  are spread through the forest (or other habitat) in the  hope that some of the sites are better for germination and survival. Many trees, shrubs, herbs and vines simply scatter their seeds in the wind, but in the rainforest there’s not so much breeze, and when there is, the seeds are likely to hit a neighbouring tree and thus not travel far.

Frugivory (fruit-eating) is obviously useful for the animals that derive the nutrients, and if they also digest the seed (as parrots and many pigeons do) it’s not much good for the plant. If however they only digest the soft parts and regurgitate or pass the seeds through their digestive tracts unharmed (as some of our pigeons do, and also bowerbirds, honeyeaters and many others) they also provide an unwitting service for the tree, vine or other plant they fed on.

I was attracted to the topic because it involves so many disciplines – conservation biology (we can’t think only in terms of conserving species,but need to consider the relationships between them and others they interact with, and are there particular animals that threatened =plants depend on, and threatened animals that depend on particular fruits, especially in lean seasons?), ecology, evolution, animals behaviour and physiology.

A channel-billed cuckoo eating native  figs
A channel-billed cuckoo eating native figs

I’ve been conducting research on frugivory and seed dispersal, especially local birds that eat rainforest fruits, for some years now. One of the most popular fruit in our region – in terms both of of numbers of individual birds and the numbers of species feeding on the fruits – is a native fig Ficus rubiginosa (formerly regarded as  F. platypoda). So why aren’t there more growing around here?

I’m currently looking at this and other local plant species from three angles: (1) what eats them and how frequently? (mostly looking at birds, but other creatures as well) (2) where do frugivorous birds sit when not feeding (and thus likely to deposit seeds) and (3) what conditions do they need for germination and growth?

I do most of the observations alone, but guests on our tours can also assist on  forest walks by helping to find birds that are either eating fruit ( for 1 above) or  doing other things (for 2 above).

For the third aspect of the study, I’ve been germinating seeds in the brush house, but am now about to embark on some experiment field plots. In the photos below, Darren is heeling set up some of these experimental plots which in the future can be viewed by visitors to the Araucaria property and which I hope will help answer some of my queries.

prepare germination plots  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Frugivores other than birds include fruit bats and other mammals, some lizards (especially the larger skinks and dragons), fish (but not many in Australia) and ants, and we’re planning more observations of these.

Protecting rainforest restoration near a tributary of Running Creek, Scenic Rim

“The best creek in southeast Queensland” the real estate agent called it when we were looking for a property just over 30 years ago.  And we’ve had plant of reason to agree.

Running Creek in flood
Running Creek in flood with part of our rainforest (i.e. on Araucaria property)  in the background

It plunges over a 100m waterfall in the western slopes of Lamington National Park, and never stops flowing.  Even late in the 10-year drought we went through in the late 90’s, we’d be swimming in over 2 metres of water, listening to the water flowing over the rocks just upstream (reduced to a gentle trickle instead of the rapids we usually use as a ‘spa-bath’ by wedging ourselves between the rocks, but still travelling), and thinking ‘hey, this is a drought, isn’t it?’  Most other creeks in the district had dried up altogether or were now a series of disconnected ponds. In major  flood times though it surges like an angry ocean, tossing trees and boulders, demolishing bridges and cutting road access, sometimes for over a week.

The Araucaria property lies at the foot of Mt Chinghee (Bung Bung to the Aboriginals), several kilometres downstream from the Lamington National Park in  the Scenic Rim, Southeast Queensland, with just a few cattle properties in between. Mt Chinghee National Park mostly harbours seasonally dry rainforest (with moister rainforest  – more palms, ferns, mosses etc. – at its summit), and from it two tributaries flow through our property into Running Creek. Much of Mt Chinghee National Patrk has been separated from Running Creek to the south and Christmas Creek to the north by clearing for cattle-grazing, so our property is one of the few where forest continues to the creek, allowing rainforest creatures ready access and thus providing something of a wildlife corridor between the creek and the national park.

tackling the lantana
Darren (swinging the scythe) and one of our WWOOFers (WillingWorkers On Organic Farms) tackling lantana

We had already received a grant from the Scenic Rim Regional Council  to separate the major part of our rainforest regeneration from the horse-grazing area, but one of the tributaries to Running Creek was left out of this. This year we received a dollar-for-dollar grant from Southeast Queensland Catchments to protect this gully. It also allowed us to separate the horse-grazing into several paddocks so horses can be rotated, resting areas that need it and helping to control weeds.

Work included clearing lantana to make way for the fence, hammering in fence posts, stringing the electric fencing (better for the wildlife than barbed wire), installing gates and an extra water tank, and recording baseline observations of fauna and flora along the length of the fencing for future monitoring.

101 posts have been numbered, along Pademelon Path, Wallaby Way and Goanna Gully, and detailed vegetation notes recorded at each of these. We’re hoping to see an increase in rainforest species over the years to come.

new gate
Morgan watches as Denis erects a new gate

 

towards restoration site
Looking from one of the grazing areas towards the gully with regenerating forest (eucalypts at edge, rainforest trees, shrubs and vines deeper into july). A pile of cleared lantana can be seen in the foreground
numbered post
All 101 of the new posts are numbered so we can monitor fauna and flora changes over the years

 

Towards Mt Chinghee
Driving through new gate up Pademeon Path on the Araucaria property, Mt Chinghee National Park in background

 

 

Some wildlife is hard to find! Workshop in May.

quollIt is common to walk through a forest full of wildlife and never see an animal.

It is also common for governments and developers to call in environmental consultants towards the end of plans for a new major development, when there is too little time left to find what species of concern may be present.

Why the difficulty in finding wildlife?

  • Most Australian mammals are nocturnal
  • Most Australian mammals, birds and lizards are small
  • Most of our small marsupials and native rodents live amongst dense vegetation on the ground,which combined with nocturnal habits and shyness makes them difficult to see
  • Others live and feed in tall trees, and the smaller,  nocturnal oes can easily be over-looked
  • Some birds and lizards are very well camouflaged, and when they ‘freeze’ can be very difficult to see, even if you know more or less where they are
  • Animals that live solitary lives and have large home-ranges (like the quoll in the photo) can be so sparsely distributed through an area that it is very much a matter of luck to be searching in the right place
  • Frogs may be present in large numbers and calling (or on other nights silent) but in a sheltered position totally out of sight (and when so many animals eat frogs, it’s easy to understand why)
  • Many animals are ‘shy’ (not a social condition so much as an adaptation to avoid being eaten), and disappear from view as soon as they hear, smell or see our approach
  • Small insectivorous bats may be seen fleetingly, but there are so many species in any locality it is impossible to identify them without a close-up look or analysis of their calls

Does it matter if animals are hard to detect?

For the amateur naturalist, researcher or the visitor to a region it can be frustrating, as many hours can be spent without finding the animals of interest (although I always enjoy the whole atmosphere of the forest or outback shrublands even when nothing is found)

For the conservation manager, lack of information on what animal is present may lead to wrong decisions – e.g. what times are appropriate for burning the understorey, what trees are okay to remove, which habitat fragments are important to connect.

Fr local governments deciding on approval of a major development, a list of common birds and easily-detected mammals such as brushtail possums and wallabies may look okay on and environmental impact statement but miss out the rarer, more threatened species that need special consideration.

How do we find rare and cryptic animals?

  • The book by Barbara Triggs “Tracks, Scats and Other Traces” is valuable for detecting the presence of Australian mammals and some of our other cryptic species
  • Getting familiar with the calls of frogs, nocturnal mammals and cryptic birds  is pretty well essential –  Dave Stewart’s NatureSound collection is an invaluable tool for this
  • Getting out there anr being patient – there are far worse ways of spending a few hours than sitting in a forest listening quietly for rustles, squeaks and scratches, and you can gain a lot of insights into forest life by doing so (as well as being a good spot for meditating on other things without phone or email or knocks on the door)
  • Books, journals and google – there is a fantastic amount of information out there nowadays (although there is also still much as yet unknown)
  • workshops, discussion groups etc.

Wildlife workshop on rare and cryptic fauna: May 2011

Organized by Scenic Rim Wildlife, sponsored by the Scenic Rim Regional Council

Where?  The Outlook, Boonah, Scenic Rim. Southeast Queensland

When? 10.00am – 4.30pm with optional field trip to follow, Saturday 7th May 2011

More details?  See the website of Scenic Rim Wildlife website and Facebook

The workshop is free, but bookings are essential

Wildlife Corridors – report on workshop

This is a reproduction of what will shortly appear on the Scenic Rim Wildlife website

(Scenic Rim Wildlife is the Scenic Rim Branch of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland)

Wildlife Corridors Workshop

April 2011, Heritage Centre, Tamborine Mountain

The workshop was well attended by a wide range of people from within the Scenic Rim and other regions, and it is hoped the momentum will continue into future action.

The following is from notes taken by the chair, with apologies to presenters if anything important was missed

Introduction – Ronda Green

(Chair Scenic Rim Wildlife)

Ronda spoke briefly on reasons animals need to move (daily, seasonally, after disasters, finding mates and territories etc.), the value of corridors also in allowing genetic exchange and avenues for recolonization after natural or human-indiced disasters,  and the barriers to movements created by increasing human populations. Provision of corridors is not a ‘one-size-fits-all': we need to understand what is needed by different kinds of wildlife. She stressed the need for information gathering if we are to solve present and future problems – information on where animals are and what they need, and also information on future plans by local, state and federal government and developers so that ecological decisions are not left until the final stages of major plans.

Corridors and roads  international and local – Cathryn Dexter

Cathryn Dexter(SEQ Koala Retrofit & Road Mitigation Project Manager, Applied Road Ecology Group, Environmental Futures Centre and , Griffith School of Environment, Griffith University)

Catherine showed maps of corridors and reserves and pointed out that the decisions on placement of reserves are not always based on what is best for conservation value but frequently for recreational  or political reasons. Effective planning for wildlife movement needs  local, state and national scales.

In a fragmented landscape, the greater the number of fragments, and the closer they are, the more likely dispersal of wildlife will occur between them.

Factors influencing use of corridors:

  • Biology and ecological requirements of particular species
  • Habitat suitability
  • Location of corridors
  • Land use
  • Suitability of habitat in areas surrounding strips
  • The values of the reserves being connected (the large habitat areas that  the corridors lead to)
  • They need to be designed for animals that are vulnerable to extinction: it is not enough for just  the most common species to be using them.

Some consideration of roads, which cut across many animal pathways nowadays and will do so even more in the future –

  • there is a footprint surrounding a road – whether the edges are cleared, lights, noise etc. beyond the area taken up by the road itself
  • mortality of animals crossing roads – very high in some areas
  • roadside habitat enhancement can draw in animals,  for instance mown grass at the edges that will entice wallabies to feed by the roadside, and roadkill produces more roadkill if eagles, quolls and other carrion feeders are attracted
  • public safety – collisions with larger animals can be serious

Strictly migratory animals – as are more common in other continents  –  are easier to cater for than more random movements, because a bridge or tunnel accommodating their usual route will often be used very quickly by the regular migrants.  Our more random and nomadic wildlife are not quite so easy

European approach

European Union  directives

1979 Birds, 1992Habitats Directive  led to Natura 2000 network of sites, with a formal agreement  to abide by the directives or face the EU court

Europe has many more faunal overpasses than Australia does.
If European countries – with all their political differences –  can work together in this way Australian states united by federation and a common culture should be able to similar.

On one road in Spain there are several overpasses of  86-475m –  6 viaducts, 5 tunnels. Total permeability of this road: 47.5%

Compton Road, Brisbane

Glider populations were to be separated by the new road

Land bridges and fauna tunnels, fences, rope ladders for arboreal mammals and glider poles were all planned and ultimately implemented

The overpass has been a great success, and is being used by many kinds of animals – marcopds, gliders, snakes, small bush birds and others.

SEQ Koala Retrofit & Roadkill Mitigation Project
There has been an alarming decline in koalas, mostly due to cars, dog attacks and disease

12745 deaths between 1997 and 2009

Hotspots have been identified

Many koalas are now radio tracked to follow and understand movements – different individual koalas differ in their kinds of movement, challenging some of our our assumptions about corridor placement and habitat suitability.

Some roads are administered by council, some by state – sometimes different policies interfere with overall effectiveness

Green Infrastructure  –  Jaap  Vogel

(Local artist and naturalists, former Tamborine Mountain LandCare president)

Green Infrastructure – a sustainable network of nature, parks and agricultural land, connecting corridors

April 2007 – groups got together to send a message to council about Whole Of Shire Planning

Green infrastructure needs the same kind of process as designing built infrastructure. It supports native wildlife, water management and other ecological phenomena, and involves whole community

The infrastructure consists of hubs, links and sites

We need to establish modelling parameters:  what do we want to achieve – identifying ecological features, then the hubs and linkages, identifying cultural/historical features, selecting trailheads and identifying corridors

AGIC  (Australian Green Infrastructure  Council) – the principle industry catalyst for advancing sustainability – does not mean quite the  same as we do  when speaking of green infrastructure

Example of green infrastructure in USA:

Florida – 700,000 acres, 2,300km of trails, bought 1.7m acres for $3b over 10 years, funding was from government and private sources
They provide linkages for wildlife, protection of drinking water, guards against flooding, purifying of air, and enhancement of  tourism

What we can do about green infrastructure locally

The first step towards a goal of this kind is mapping –  this has already been accomplished on Tamborine Mountain

The former Beaudesert Shire mapped wildlife corridors around some of the the boundaries of the shire, not much else
The Border Ranges map of corridors shows a corridor from Tamborine Mountain to the NSW border, but cut by roads, e.g. at Canungra (and some cleared areas)

There is now a Tamborine Mountain map showing hubs and corridors
The corridor from Thunderbird Park through to Cedar Creek Winery and beyond is a good example of what can be done.  It involves multiple land tenures, 5 private landholders, and 65% is already consolidated with the help of volunteers and landowners.

The Tamborine Creek catchment is another corridor examples,  including Botanic  Garden, McDonald section of Tamborine NP, Contour Rd., old sawmill, Joalah etc. There is a problem of a road just east of the old sawmill with a high priority to creatae a crossing.

GI is however more than just corridors for wildlife, and it  involves the ability for many groups of people to work together to accomplish them.  It is suggested that we form such a coalition of groups for this purpose locally.

Michael Anderson  – Wildlife corridors in the Scenic Rim

(Environmental Team Leader, Scenic Rim Regional Council)

The Scenic Rim includes 8 endangered ecosystems (ecosystems with <10%  former area remaining  in Qld), 22 ‘of concern’ (10-30% remaining), 25 least concern (>30% remaining). Despite some large areas of national parks and other reserves, most of this is still on private land. “Least concern” is an unfortunate title, leading to the attitude that it is okay to clear plenty of it.

Corridors can be stepping stones, riparian strips, ridgelines etc.

As vegetation patches reduce in size, they are  less viable ecologically,

A draft map was shown as a tool for deciding priorities for reducing clearing, habitat restoration and for such decisions as where to utilize Vegetation offsets (Energex etc.)

  • An eastern corridor – with some breaks – leads from Lamington to Tamborine Mountain
  • A central one – again with breaks – leads from Mt Barney  through Kooralbyn northwards  – heads to Oxley but then what?
  • A western one runs up the main range

We lack good west-to-east corridors through the main part of the region, and there are many other gaps

Some important gaps are those around Beaudesert, Kooralbyn, Mt Chinghee, Kerry, Bremer & Warrill View area, Rathdowney-Maroon, Boonah-Beaudesert, Mt Lindsay Highway, Cunningham Highway.

Corridior problems include:

  • loss of habitat
  • individual habitat tree removal (e.g. old trees with hollows, big feed-trees)
  • inappropriate fire regimes
  • climate change
  • predation
  • weeds
  • barriers – fences, roads etc
  • state infrastructure – dams, interstate rail, motorbike parks
  • nonregional offset policies – may offset something by purchasing land elsewyere, not heling local area
  • limited vegetation protection

Management:

  • Maintain and increase vegetation
  • Provide specific habitat resources for various animal groups
  • Maximize width and function, protection, minimize barriers

Regional programs

  • SEQ fire & biodiversity consortium
  • SEQ biodiversity offsets
  • Health waterways
  • Glossy Black Cockatoo  Conservancy
  • Regional green Energy project
  • Main roads weed treatment
  • Carbon sink project
  • NRM plan – tartgets tp achieve as local government and regional community (big step forward but not yet statutory)
  • Land for Wildlife
  • Macadamia Recovery Project

Concil programs

  • River improvement
  • Environmental grants
  • Property conservation
  • Environmental planning support
  • Reserve management
  • Climate change management
  • Environmental  events
  • Publications
  • Community groups
  • Rivers management (bank rehabilitation, fencing off cattle access)
  • Pest management
  • Education (schools and other)

Fututre programss

  • Expand current base programs
  • Extenal funding
  • Communal Nursery
  • Environmental education centre
  • Expanded community gardens
  • Consolidated offset program
  • Small block wildlife program
  • Expand wildlife corridors projects
  • Koala fodder trees
  • Flora and fauna database
  • Greater arts lnkage
  • Biosphere
  • Ecosystem services
  • Wildlife ambulance

Geoff  Warne – wildlife corridor through Cedar Creek wineries

(Guide, Cedar Creek Estates Winery and Glow Worms)

11 years ago the property mostly had old rhubarb and avocado area, not in good condition. John Pengliss, the managing director of Cedar Creek Estate decided to plant native rainforest trees along Cedar Creek, and this was to become part of a corridor involving other landowners and linking conservation areas (as mentioned in Jaap’s talk previously). The trees and other plants have grown remarkably well since then, providing a closed canopy and general rainforest feeling underneath, and are a good example of what can be accomplished.

Bobucks and platypus were not originally seen on the property but have now moved in. Unfortunately snake-catchers have released too many carpet pythons on the property for the bobuck population to survive.

John Pengliss has put a permanent covenant on  the land to prevent any future clearing

He also offered to build and artificial cave to house glow worms, as the local species were being threatened by the behaviour of many human visitors to their native haunts.  This has also proved very successful. Frog hollow is another initiative soon to open to the public, sowing the frogs native to the Mountain

Lauren Barnaby  –  Wyaralong Dam and wildlife

(General Manager – Environment, Land and Cultural Heritage, Queensland Water Infrastructure Pty Ltd  )

At capacity the dam will hold 103,000ML (10% Wivenhoe) covering  1,230ha

An extensive Environmental Impact Assessment was conducted in 2007, involving 1400 state approval decisions, also commonwealth conditions

75% of the land to be inundated was already cleared

11km of Beaudesert/Boonah Rd was realigned, and this needed faunal underpasses

There are 480 ha of wildlife corridor, including major wildlife N-S movement areas to the extreme Eastern  and Western ends of the dam,  and they are managing existing regeneration by exclusion of grazing, weed removal, and also planting of locally native trees. The Green Army was involved, collecting for an on-site nursery (30,000 seeds collected from existing habitat before clearing)

21 underpasses, 3 for fauna alone, were designed in accordance with the engineering design of the road to meet road standards: topography favoured under- rather than over- passes (high enough for grey kangaroo to move through)

They worked with EPA, looking at height, lighting etc. for different spp, whether dry ledges were required, vegetation at entrance and exits. Post and rails have been constructed for arboreal animals, with some escape posts leading upwards in case of approach by feral dogs etc.

The fauna fencing is now finished. 400 nest boxes of different sizes from Hollow Log Homes have been erected.

There will be 10 years of  montoring and maintenance plan and corrective actions for environmental  corridors, and

25 years of  monitoring and maintenance of fauna underpasses – fauna usage, fatality, types & abundance of fauna

Summary of re-establishing biodiversity –

  • 2 environmentt corridors
  • 220ha revegetation
  • 21 fauna underpasses
  • 400 nest boxes
  • land mngmt initiatives (e.g. cattle exclusion)

Persons interested in commenting on and asking questions on any of the above, volunteering for fauna surveys or telliing us where they have seen various species, ,  please contact  scenicrim@wildlife.org.au or contribute to our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/Scenic.Rim.Wildlife

Wildlife Corridors Workshop

whiptail wallabies about to cross roadScenic Rim Wildlife (of which I’m chair) is holding a workshop on Saturday 2nd April at the Heritage Centre, Tamborine Mountain, to discuss the provision of wildlife corridors in the Scenic Rim (southeast Queensland)

I’ll be speaking briefly on why animals need to move (daily, seasonally, other) and pose some questions about the future of the Scenc Rim

Cathryn Dexter of Griffith University will then be giving us information on wildlife corridors and faunal overpasses in Europe and elsewhere as well as here in southeast Queensland, and Jaap Vogel will fill us in with some details of what has been happening in America.

Michael Anderson (Environmental Management, Scenic Rim Regional Council) will give us an update on what is happening in the Shire and what might be planned for the future, and Lauren Barnaby (Qld Water Infrastructure Pty. Ltd) will tell us about habitat restoration and faunal underpasses at Wyaralong Dam. We will also hear about the wildlife corridor at Cedar Creek Estate winery and neighbouring lands.

An open discussion will follow on what we need to know and to do to assist wildlife movements in the future, and we will be calling for volunteers to join in some fauna surveys over the coning months  with a view to seeing where animals currently are, where ther continued existence could be in jeopardy, and p;aces where they are now absent but might be encouraged back if corridors of different kinds were established.

Free entry. Numbers will be limited by available seating, so bookings are essential – you can book by leaving a comment here

Flying foxes in trouble

fruitbat unfolding wingsDarren and I last week rescued a black flying fox from  a bardbed wire fence.  We were not expecting to do a rescue that day  – just happened to see hum as we drove past – so we were not well equipped, and had to ask local residents to supply a towel to throw over her, wire cutters, a pillow slip to put her in etc.

Some folk were very helpful, and we obtained everything necessary.  One just said ‘who cares?’ and another said he’d take a cricket bat to it.

No matter whether it is an animal you want living near you or not ( they are delightful and intelligent creatures, but some people fear them or resent having some of their fruit eaten or just don’t like them for whatever reason) they are animals capable of fear and pain just like any other, and should not be left to suffer.

We have just read that the grey-headed flying foxes (like the one pictured here) in Sydney are encountering more netting than usual in back yards – netting that is placed loosely over fruit trees to deter the bats but often entangle them, and the bats slowly starve if not rescued.

Netting needs to be tight enough that birds and bats cannot possibly tangle in it.

Do NOT try to handle a fruitbat unless you have been vaccinated against rabies, as some of them carry lyssa virus.  Call a bat care society (in southeast Qld: Bat Conservation and Rescue) or RSPCA for help.

Queensland floods

Many thanks  to all those who have contacted us to ask how we’re faring in the floods (I’ve answered each personally as well).

Our house, Wildlife Ecology Centre and nature trails are high enough above the creek not to have been affected (although we did have to dig some extra drains to divert water racing down from Mt Chinghee towards the house), and we always have plenty of stored food.

flooded bridge just upstream from home
A flooded bridge just upstream from home

We’ve had to cancel tours of course, and have been hemmed in by flooded bridges, but otherwise we’re fine.

People in Brisbane and Toowoomba are suffering badly, and so are many animals.  The RSPCA is taking donations to help both domestic and wild animals displaced or injured in the floods. The ABC Floods Emergency site is a good source of information, including ways you can help victims

Marine wilderness in jeopardy

How few truly wild stretches of coastline remain on our planet?  How many are easily accessible from major population areas, where we can easily enjoy a combination of terrestrial and marine wilderness with a great variety of wildlife?

The Coocloola wilderness and Tina Can Bay area, Fraser Island and the narrow marine passage between them, constitute one such precious region. Dugongs, Indo-Pacfific dolphins as well as the more common bottle-nosed dolphins, turtles and a marvellous array of fish and other marine life are adjacent to rainforests, open forests and heathlands harbouring a great diversity of wildlife including endangered species such as the ground parrot.  I’ve thought of it for years as one of the last great coastal strips where we can enjoy so many facets of nature in close proximity, and observe the interplay between the different habitats, each of which interacts – through its fauna and flora and flows of wind and water – with the others.

Now it seems Tin Can Bay may become just another holiday resort with a marina, with more boats ramming turtle and dugongs, more underwater noise to confuse our dolphins, and never again a naturalist’s paradise

Bob Irwin (Steve’s father) is urging people to sign a petition, which I would strongly urge you to do  –  there are many other parts of our coastline that could harbour a marina – why destroy something so precious?

If you love being surrounded by nature, get a thrill from spending time a a place with such varied examples of natural habitats and seeing such an array of wild creatures going about their natural behaviour as they have for millenia, take a trip to Tin Can Bay and if possible spend a few days in the region, and bring your dollars to the pay for local amentieis while there (food, accommodation, petrol etc.) to help show the local residents  that they may not have to depend on a marina to bring in extra income. To really get a feeling of this wild region you may like to try all or part of the Cooloola Great Walk.

But the need to protest against the marina is urgent – decisions are to be made in November, so click here to join Bob Irwin’s campaign.