Chapter in Book on Food Security – use of native animals

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By , November 13, 2012 10:45 am
George Wilson contributes chapter on native animals as food producers in a book published this week by Springer.     A promotional free preview of the entire  Book  Food Security in Australia, edited by Q. Farmar-Bowers, J. Millar, and V. Higgins is available The chapter describes how few native animals, other than fish and crustaceans, are used in food production by the humans who recently arrived in Australia. Even Aboriginal Australians have now become reliant on introduced species which evolved elsewhere. In part, this is due to cultural dominance, first of the British and then other western perspectives in last 200 years. It is also because introduced species generally have higher production rates following centuries of agricultural selection and recently, energy-intensive farming practices. But it need not always be that exotic species are superior, particularly in the context of climate change. Replacing cattle and sheep on the rangelands with well-adapted species such as kangaroos and making greater use of them just as Aborigines did for 40,000 years, is a prospect worthy of further investigation.

Camera Trapping Colloquium in Wildlife Management and Research, Taronga Zoo

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By , October 4, 2012 11:03 am
[Not a valid template]Australian Wildlife Services' George Wilson and Jen Smits joined 200 camera trap researchers from all over the world at Taronga Zoo last week at the world's first camera trapping colloquium. The event was co-hosted by the Australasian Wildlife Management Society, Royal Zoological Society of NSW, the Invasive Animals CRC and sponsor WWF-Australia. Camera trapping is rapidly being adopted for diverse monitoring purposes, from wildlife research and management to asset protection. They are a useful tool for both species detection and wildlife behavioural studies. AWS has been trialing some remote infrared cameras on Angas Downs in Southern Northern Territory to detect feral species and understand native and feral species interactions. For more general information on Camera trapping in Australia visit

Canberra Institute of Technology students visit Angas for surveys

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By , October 2, 2012 3:31 pm
Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) student volunteers visited Angas Downs Indigenous Protected Area in Sept 2012 to help undertake reptile, bird, track and mammal surveys. The students were helped by Australian Wildlife Services' Jenny Smits to learn the various survey techniques. The field trip was part of CIT Diploma in Ecology course 'Field Studies'. Well done to all, a hugely successful trip for us. See the facebook page for more info and photos.    

Remote IR Cameras and Foxes on Angas Downs IPA, Northern Territory

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By , August 21, 2012 2:33 pm
AWS staff and Angas Downs rangers have installed some remote infrared cameras across Angas Downs to capture native and pest animal movements to watering points. The cameras, 12 MP Acorn LT1  Night Vision cameras, have a blue flash that is invisible to animals. It records photos and videos in both day and night mode. Captures include kangaroos, birds, horses, cattle, camels, emus, dingos, cats and foxes. Foxes hadn't previously been identified as occurring in the area until these remote cameras were put in. Beautiful videos of Emus, Bronzewings, Hooded robins, a Little Eagle, Wedgetails, Brown Goshawks, Major Mitchell's Cockatoo checking themselves out in the water reflection, and Bourke's parrots are some of the bird highlights. The rangers will use the cameras to make management decisions such as where to set cat traps and to see which waters are important for native species and kuka (game species). The cameras will be even more successful when the landscape dries up.

Click here to see the Angas Downs remote camera video on

ABC Country Hour also reported on Angas' use of remote cameras - click here for transcript and audio.


ABC Interview on Red Kangaroos on Angas Downs

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By , June 26, 2012 3:02 pm
Local NT ABC Radio reporter Caddie Brain interviews Dr George Wilson, Australian Wildlife Services about kangaroos on Angas Downs IPA... Click here  for the transcript and to listen to the story. " The team from Angas Downs Station are working hard to increase red kangaroo numbers on the former pastoral property. Rangers are reinstalling water points, undertaking aerial surveying and developing the facilities to become a release site for recovering roos who have fallen on some back luck (fenced roo enclosure). Dr Wilson says the roo enclosure will became an educational tool and tourist attraction. "It's amazing, there's very few places in Australia where tourists can reliably see red kangaroos in the wild yet it's our national emblem. But the display is only part of a broader land management strategy to increase numbers on the property." "Eventually, with the support of the local Indigenous community, we'll develop a sustainable hunting regime. This property is here to blend their continuing traditional needs with science."

Windamara rangers visit Angas Downs IPA

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By , June 21, 2012 9:52 am
  During May 2012, the Angas Downs rangers successfully hosted 8 IPA/WoC rangers from the Windamara Aboriginal Corporation from Heywood Victoria and Tyrendarra Indigenous Protected Area - as part of a Ranger exchange program. Angas Downs rangers showed them about their country, showed them their work on camel control, tourism opportunities and cultural sites. They also met the Angas Downs Emus and Kangaroos. Then the Windamara rangers went onto Uluru where they met the rangers there. Angas Downs Rangers will then visit them in Victoria. They will learn about how they go about their cultural heritage management and tourism.

Buffel Grass Surveys, Angas Downs

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By , June 12, 2012 11:15 am
Buffel grass presence / absence surveys began in June 2012 on Angas Downs IPA. The survey can be redone next year to show how buffel is expanding or not. It will be interesting to see how quickly it takes to increase from a few plants to a dense patch. If a fast increase in plant density is shown, controlling single plants may be beneficial. The rangers drive the tracks and roads and enter into Cybertracker where they see single plants, a few plants or dense patches. The survey will be finished in July 2012.  

Should private landholders be allowed to manage wildlife including species such as koalas?

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By , May 22, 2012 11:03 am
George Wilson is presenting a paper at the Australian Veterinary Conference in Canberra on 24th May 2012 at 0900 hr in the Convention Centre. It asserts that current Australian policies and programs to support wildlife have not rectified the conservation status of many species which continues to get worse. Endangered species management is too dependent on limited Government funding. He suggests Australia should draw more on overseas experience that the private sector can play a major role in species and habitat conservation. The key is to enable population increases on private lands by creating incentives for landholders to manage existing habitats, permit translocation of overabundant populations and encourage the expansion of suitable habitat. If Australian Governments encouraged such innovation wildlife populations would increase and widen their distribution. Government agencies would still have a role in authorising transfers of animals to ensure improvements in the genetic status of populations, and enforcing animal welfare regulations and codes of practice. Koalas for example are under threat; evidenced by their patchy distribution and apparent incapacity to recolonise suitable habitat. Involvement of the private sector in koala management and in effect 'ownership' of koalas would mirror that which already occurs through the activities of private zoos and animal parks. A wider ‘koala market’ would enable private landholders to also be involved in conservation projects and expand the distribution, health and security of Australia’s koala population. The challenge is to enable today’s landholders to contribute to conservation through sustainable wildlife use. Veterinarians can assist achieve this outcome. The press release can be downloaded Publications (0 downloads) so can the full paper. Publications and Downloads (0 downloads)

Emus on Angas Downs

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By , April 18, 2012 11:41 am
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: Services (0 downloads) 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.

Emu Updates

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.

Emu Video: Angas Emus growing up - March 2012 update

 Photo courtesy of Gordon Sanders, Aug 2010.

Angas Downs Reptile and Bird Species Checklists

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By , April 17, 2012 3:22 pm
[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. Angas Downs Reptile Checklist (919 downloads) Angas Downs Birding Checklist (921 downloads) Also see Angas Downs Reptile Surveys