AWS attended the World Indigenous Network (WIN) conference in Darwin in 26th-30th May 2013 to represent Angas Downs Indigenous Protected Area, Northern Territory with Senior Ranger David Wongway and IPA Manager Tim Lander.
The WIN Conference Program has a comprehensive agenda on land and sea management issues towards building an enduring World Indigenous Network. The World Indigenous Network Conference Program will cover five themes with a range of topics that are relevant and engaging to Indigenous and Local Community land and sea managers from around the world.
An article was written in the Sydney Morning Herald about the conference. Senior David Ranger made it into the newspaper (see his photo here).
Australian Wildlife Services and the Angas Downs IPA Rangers battled the 41 – 45 degree heat this November 2012 to undertake the annual reptile and small mammal surveys. Pitfall and funnel traps were used along 25 m fence lines, as well as active searches.
40-41 reptile species were recorded over a week and a half. No small mammals were captured, indicating a significant crash in populations after the recent boom. The surveys allow yearly monitoring of small mammal and reptile species on Angas Downs. So far, each trapping event has found additional species for Angas Downs’ reptile checklists. New species this year included Stimson’s Python, Jeweled Gecko, Burton Legless Lizard and a Woma (unconfirmed – black and white remote camera). See the photos for a taste.
Annual aerial survey monitoring was conducted on Angas Downs IPA in July 2012. These surveys complement surveys also conducted in 2010 & 2011. IPA Rangers and Jennifer Smits (AWS) counted animals seen at low level and 200 m on either side of the aircraft. Species targeted /observed included camels, kangaroos, horses and cattle.
These studies are vital to understanding populations of kangaroos and pressures from camel and horse populations on the property and hence native wildlife. Some results are published below. No significant increase or decrease in any of the surveyed species was recorded between 2010-2012.
Since Angas Downs is such a vast area to survey, the variance and error of the datasets collected make it difficult to assess any significant change in the estimated population density. Good thing is Malu (red kangaroo) populations appear to be stable, and feral populations of horses and camels are appear to be decreasing (or not significantly increasing), undoubtedly due to the management actions of the IPA rangers. Densities of red kangaroos across Angas were estimated at 1.02 per sq km in 2010, and 1.13 per sq km in 2012. It was found that the southern area of the property was much more productive and watered, and supported more head of kangaroos than the northern sand dunes. Hence the aerial surveys were split in the north and south for 2012.
A report is being finalised and will be available soon. For more information on past Aerial surveys click here.
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.
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. You can view a collection of some of the July 2012 video clips here (youtube) and previous March 2012 here (Picasa).
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. We also captured horses chewing on one of our brand new cameras here (Picasa)!
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.
ABC Country Hour also reported on Angas’ use of remote cameras – click here for transcript and audio.
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.”
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 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.
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: Angas Downs IPA Plan of Management - PDF 31.41 MB - 2009-07-08
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.
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.
If you are travelling through Angas Downs on the Red Centre Way, Luritja and Ernest Giles Roads or the Lasseter Hwy and spot a particular species of interest, let us know firstname.lastname@example.org. Guided tours with AWS and Anangu Rangers can be set up given plenty of notice (contact us).
Angas Downs Reptile Checklist - PDF 728.54 kB - 2012-04-19
Angas Downs Birding Checklist - PDF 789.75 kB - 2012-04-19
Also see Angas Downs Reptile Surveys