In August 2010, Anangu Rangers took delivery of 20 emu chicks from an Emu farm in WA. They were flown into Ayers ROck airport by Qantas and driven to the Angas Downs Indigenous Protected Area. Emu populations are very low on Angas Downs as is the case in much of the Northern Territory. They are an important species to the local Anangu and traditional owners and to ecological processes. They have probably suffered from over hunting, due to the supplementation of traditional hunting methods with rifles and vehicles. Increasing the amount of important species such as emu and red kangaroo on Angas Downs is important to Anangu and is a key part of the Angas Downs Indigenous Protected Area Plan of Management:
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In combination with land management and control of feral animals, Anangu rangers will implement an emu breeding program to increase emus in the landscape. Australian Wildlife Services is providing scientific support for this program. After successful breeding, the emus will be released into a larger sanctuary area on Angas Downs. Angas Downs rangers also received an egg incubator which will be used for increasing breeding success in following years. The chicks and incubator were bought with donations provided by the Rotary Club of Canberra Burley Griffin.
Quandongs and emus
There also has been much interest in the Emu's ability to help regenerate Quandongs (Santalum acuminatum
). Local knowledge has suggested that emus may increase the success of Quandong germination after the seed is eaten and has passed through the gut - this could be due to a combination of seed coat break down and being deposited in rich nutrient filled dung. But Quandongs need more than dung to establish - they need plenty of water, protection from grazing and, as they are a parasitic plant, they need to find a host to tap into with its roots (usually mulga or other shrubs). Emus also help to disperse the seeds across the landscape. It is a goal of Angas Downs to increase bush tucker species such as Quandong and will trial use of emus in Quandong regeneration in coming years. Also this subject has been researched by the Alice Springs Desert Park - Media Release
ABC News Radio reports on the Emu-Quandong project and be heard here: Bush Telegraph
and A Country Hour
The Emus which arrived at the Angas Downs Emu Sanctuary as baby chicks in August 2010 are doing well and growing up fast. Local chicks from the Alice Springs region have also been added for a bit of local genetics. The Angas Downs Rangers have been feeding and caring for the birds who have now lost all their stripes and look more and more like adult emus. Cheeky like them too! See photos and Video Link (below) to see their progress to March 2012.
Photo courtesy of Gordon Sanders, Aug 2010.
[Not a valid template]Reptile and Birding checklists for Angas Downs IPA current to March 2012 are now available through the AWS website. The tally to date is 99 bird species observed (includes vagrant species) and 51 reptiles species. Angas Downs is an excellent diverse landscape and we are slowly learning its potential as a sustainable use conservation area.
AWS have provided Cybertracker training to the Winda-mara Aboriginal Corporation's
Budj Bim Rangers in Heywood, south-west Victoria. Cybertracker
is an easy way of collecting field-based GPS data for nearly any purpose. The Working on Country (WoC) rangers (see environment.gov.au
) got together and worked out what information they wanted to collect - then with help from AWS learnt about how to tailor the Cybertracker to be useful. The rangers have since been trialing the new Cybertracker in the field. They can collect data on a wide variety of topics including cultural and heritage site maintenance, weed and pest control and revegetation. The rangers aim to collect data that shows the great work they do for the environment and cultural maintenance under the Australian Government's Indigenous Protected Area, Working on Country and National Heritage Landscape programs.
Contact AWS Jenny Smits for more information email@example.com. See also: Cybertracker on Angas Downs IPA
, the first live capture of a Yellow-faced Whipsnake Demansia psammophis
(juvenile), Canegrass Dragon Diporiphora winneckei
and Ctenotus brooksi
. Species count for Angas Downs is now: 51 reptile species, 4 amphibians, 99 birds and 10 native mammals (including 1 bat).
Encouragingly, species not seen since 2010 were trapped including Pale Knob-tailed Gecko Nephrurus laevissimus,
Desert Banded Snake Simoselaps anomalus
and Interior Blind Snake Ramphotyphlops endoterus.
Interestingly, no small marsupials or mammals were captured during the period although remote IR photographic capture of Spinifex hopping mice and track evidence show they are still in the landscape. More trapping is planned for October-December 2012.
For previous survey results visit click here
and for species checklists click here.
AWS and Angas Downs rangers undertook late season reptile trapping on Angas Downs IPA in March '12 in order to better understand species occurrence and abundance throughout the year. Traps consisted of drift nets with combination of pitfall (buckets) and funnel traps. Results were surprising with many of the species caught in November 2011 no longer present, and new species not caught before now showing up in the landscape. New species not caught before on Angas Downs included the narrow banded sand swimmer