15th Australasian Vertebrate Pest Conference – Indigenous Wildlife and Feral Management

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By , June 7, 2011 1:34 pm

Dr George Wilson Chaired the Indigenous Wildlife /Feral Management session at the 15th Australasian Vertebrate Pest Conference in Sydney 20-23 June 2011. Further information visit the AVPC website.
15th Australasian Vertebrate Pest Conference


‎15th Australasian Vertebrate Pest Conference

Angkum Indigenous Protected Area

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By , June 7, 2011 1:00 pm


Australian Wildlife Services is helping traditional owners of the Angkum homelands, Cape York Queensland to develop a plan of management for the proposed Angkum Indigenous Protected Area (IPA). Angkum Homelands are on the east coast of Cape York Peninsula, about 80km south of Lockhart River, at about 13 degrees south of the equator in the Cape York Peninsula biogeographic region. Angkum want to maintain and restore the integrity of the land and sea environments of the Angkum homelands, as well as sustain the interaction between Angkum people and their natural resources. Australian Wildlife Services will work with traditional owners of this unique environment to deliver their dream and aspirations for management and monitoring of Angkum IPA and combining traditioanl ecological knowledge with science. Importantly, traditional owners will be establishing a visitor protocol for visitors to Angkum homelands and IPA which will enable rangers and the IPA manager to enforce correct use of thier lands and sea country.

Collecting GPS collars on ACT Kangaroos

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By , March 17, 2011 9:04 am

On 13 March 2011, George Wilson of Australian Wildlife Services volunteered with ACT Parks and Wildlife to collect GPS tracking collars from Kangaroos around ACT Parks. Eastern grey kangaroos have been fitted with GPS tracking collars to assess their home range and movement throughout ACT’s urban parks. Twelve of these collars were programmed to fall off the kangaroos on March 13. A radio tracking receiver was used to find collar signals. The receivers are able to pick up collar direction and proximity to help the volunteers locate the collars. For more information visit the TAMS website.

Video of Angas Downs Rangers at work

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By , March 2, 2011 9:30 am

A video of rangers carrying out their duties on Angas Downs is available on Youtube: Video. It has been prepared for the rangers to present to the Indigenous Protected Areas Managers Meeting held in Jervis Bay, NSW and the Central Land Council Ranger Camp, Ross River, NT, March 2011.

Landscape Function Analysis and Soil Carbon on Angas Downs

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By , December 22, 2010 1:27 pm

During December 2010, Australian Wildlife Services conducted two weeks of field work and monitoring on Angas Downs with the Anangu Angas Downs IPA Rangers. Monitoring included Landscape Function Analysis transects, soil carbon and bulk density cores, pitfall trapping, Cybertracker surveys, Track-based monitoring and photo points. All LFA sites showed an increase in landscape function due to increases in annual and perennial plant growth. Soil Carbon analysis is pending with the Australian National University in Canberra. Due to 544mm recorded at the Angas Downs camp during the year, the plants, flowers, animals, reptiles and birds are flourishing. Of particular abundance were water birds including Cormorants, White-faced herons, Black-tailed Native hens (breeding), Banded Plovers (breeding), wood ducks, grey teals, hardheads and during October a Black-fronted Dotteral and Nankeen Night Heron were observed. Cockateils were in the 100s. Three species of reptiles not previously observed on Angas Downs were also observed.

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‘Dinner for Angas Downs’ with special guest Barry Cohen

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By , November 29, 2010 10:54 am

Angas Downs Dreaming

Thank you to all that attended The Rotary Club of Canberra Burley Griffin’s “A Dinner for Angas Downs” at the Brassey Hotel, Barton,  ACT, Thursday 25th November 2010. Approximately 100 guests flocked to the Brassey Hotel to hear about progress with Angas Downs Indigenous Protected Area and to hear from special guest speaker The Hon Barry Cohen AM. Money was raised for Angas Downs with proceeds from the tickets, donations and money raised during an auction of Aboriginal artwork, game meat products and emu eggs.

The Guest Speaker, The Hon Barry Cohen AM, delighted us with tales from his life and books about being a Minister for the Environment  1983 to 1987 in the Hawke Government.  Barry Cohen admits that the funny side of his profession kept him sane through thirty years as a politician.  With his hilarious stories about life in politics, Barry has led a post-political life as a speaker and commentator.

His books are: Life with Gough (1996);  From Whitlam to Winston (1997); The Almost Complete Gough (2001); and The Life Of The Party  (1987).

Extremely entertaining and a good night was had by all.

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The evening raised funds for Rotary-backed development projects supporting the Aboriginal community at Imanpa in central Australia. The community holds the pastoral lease to Angas Downs Indigenous Protected Area. Through tourism and increasing the numbers of preferred wildlife species, Rotary is supplementing support from the Department of Environment to integrate conservation of wildlife with commercial opportunities, strengthen land and culture connections and improve Indigenous health and well-being. Important initiatives that need funding include installing solar power and rain water tanks, improving property communications and starting a quandong nursery.

More details on Angas Downs can be found on Wikipedia at:


Donations are still welcome.

To find out more info: george.wilson@awt.com.au

Maranoa Kangaroo Harvesters and Growers Co-operative Meeting October 2010

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By , October 29, 2010 9:03 am

On Tuesday 26 October 2010, Australian Wildlife Services met with members and prospective members of the Maranoa Kangaroo Harvesters and Growers Co-operative (MKHGC) in Mitchell, QLD. The group included landholders running various operations, Landcare members, Roo harvesters, QLD game meat processors, Government and NRM body representatives and the media. Discussions were also held with reps of the University of Queensland, Gatton Campus. MKHGC is a ‘Sustainable Wildlife Enterprise’ (SWE). A SWE is a commercial business based on conservation through sustainable use and collaborating across boundaries. It seeks to generate incentives for landholders, harvesters, meat processors and tourism businesses including financial incentives, improved land management and resilience, improved soil health, biodiversity values, carbon and biodiversity credits and market opportunities. By better management and training, quality assurances and product tracing, landholders and harvestors collaborate to produce a higher value product and increase margins for coop members, thus placing a value on the kangaroo (often seen as a pest) and management of ecosytems to support them. There are also signficant carbon market incentives for coop landholders. Opportunities and directions were discussed at the meeting.

Download the SWE summary for more information: Sustainable Wildlife Enterprises Summary (1258 downloads)

The SWE model can be applied Australia wide. Other regions interested in are encouraged to contact Australian Wildlife Services.

Australian Native Mammals as Pets

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By , October 21, 2010 5:32 pm

Recently, Dr George Wilson, AWS, contributed to the RIRDC study and publication “Australian Native Mammals as Pets: A feasibility study into conservation, welfare and industry aspects” (RIRDC Publication 10/072) as an expert advisor.

The report assesses the feasibility of keeping native mammals as pets as means of conserving Australia’s mammal biodiversity. Australia’s biodiversity is in crisis, and innovative alternatives are urgently needed. Threats to survival of mammals in the wild in Australia have prompted the proposition that keeping native mammals as pets, rather than the current suite of primarily exotic predators, could contribute to conservation – for example, a child would keep a Spinifex Hopping Mouse instead of the exotic house mouse. While the keeping of certain native reptiles, birds and amphibians as pets is reasonably well-established across Australia, keeping native mammals is currently prohibited in most States. The RIRDC study sought to strategically inform the potential development of an industry based on use of native mammals as pets in a way that helps to ensure positive conservation and welfare outcomes.

AWS believes that if this difference is based on concern for animal welfare then that topic should be the focus of discussion and not confusion about animal rights.

Reptile surveys on Angas Downs IPA record 38 species

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By , October 12, 2010 3:40 pm

In October and December 2010 and March 2011, AWS and Angas Downs rangers surveyed reptiles and small mammals across Angas Down’s landscapes. Surveys were conducted using pitfall and funnel traps and active searches. The surveys were completed between 2-9 October, 7-9 December 2010, 8-9 March 2011. 38 reptile and 4 frog species were recorded. Of note, Simoselaps betholdi (Jan’s Banded Snake), Suta punctata (Little Spotted Snake), Demansia psammophis (Yellow faced whipsnake), Tiliqua multifasciata (Centralian Blue Tounge), Ramphotyphlops endoterus (Interior Blind Snake), Pygopus nigriceps (Western Hooded Scaly-foot), Nephrurus laevissimus, Nephrurus levis levisMorethia ruficauda and Egernia inornata (Desert Skink) amoung others were recorded. The Reptile checklist can be downloaded   Angas Downs Reptile Checklist (968 downloads) .

The surveys also found 6 species of small mammals – Echidna, Kultarr, Wongai Ningaui, Spinifex Hopping Mice, Sandy Inland Mice and Lesser Hairy Footed Dunnart. Some can really bite – see photo.

Is current Indigenous hunting sustainable?

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By , August 16, 2010 4:08 pm

Despite the importance placed on it by Indigenous people, land and wildlife management is a minor component of current Australian Government resource allocation for addressing Indigenous need.  Readdressing this situation is urgent because Indigenous wildlife use and hunting in Australia, as it currently practiced, is often unsustainable. Our investigations which have been published in the CSIRO journal – Wildlife Research, examine the opportunity for greater science support for traditional Aboriginal practice. They are summarised in an Opinion Editorial on ‘Sciencealert‘ and in story by Australian Geographic

In Australia, wildlife managers could be more engaged in supporting Indigenous Australians in activities such as surveying populations and estimating sustainable yields, improving harvesting techniques that reduce waste and are humane, identifying refuge areas, maximising habitat diversity, controlling weeds and feral animals, and exchanging information across regions. The opportunity and need is large. The Indigenous estate is already more than 20% of the Australian land mass and expanding. Indigenous ownership and responsibility for coastal and marine wildlife resources includes vast areas of intact ecosystems.

Western science can support Indigenous passion for caring for the land. It can draw on traditional Indigenous practice and, through reciprocal learning; help reinstate Indigenous law and culture in communities. In Australia and throughout the world, hunting and gathering remain important elements of Indigenous culture and connection with the land and sea. Indigenous people say they want increased bush tucker and game from their country to supplement their diet. They want security for totemic species so as to maintain culture. Doing so will deliver both important environmental and social outcomes.