Category: Recent Activities

Buffel Grass Surveys, Angas Downs

comments Comments Off on Buffel Grass Surveys, Angas Downs
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?

comments Comments Off on Should private landholders be allowed to manage wildlife including species such as koalas?
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

comments Comments Off on Emus on Angas Downs
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

comments Comments Off on Angas Downs Reptile and Bird Species Checklists
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 (940 downloads)
Angas Downs Birding Checklist (947 downloads)

Also see Angas Downs Reptile Surveys

Cybertracker training with Budj Bim Rangers, Winda-mara Aboriginal Corp, SW Victoria

comments Comments Off on Cybertracker training with Budj Bim Rangers, Winda-mara Aboriginal Corp, SW Victoria
By , April 16, 2012 3:13 pm

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 researchofficer@awt.com.au. See also: Cybertracker on Angas Downs IPA Northern Territory.

Reptile trapping Angas Downs IPA — Late season March’12

comments Comments Off on Reptile trapping Angas Downs IPA — Late season March’12
By , April 11, 2012 2:57 pm

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 Eremiascincus fasciolatus, 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.

 

Indigenous Heritage Project – Rotary support

comments Comments Off on Indigenous Heritage Project – Rotary support
By , March 28, 2012 7:39 pm

AWS is coordinating a survey of Angas Downs to locate Indigenous Heritage.

 

Australian Wildlife Services GIS, Spatial Information & Mapping Capabilities

comments Comments Off on Australian Wildlife Services GIS, Spatial Information & Mapping Capabilities
By , February 3, 2012 2:05 pm

AWS has full GIS capability in house using ArcGIS (ArcMap, ArcInfo), Mapinfo, Manifold. We interface these programs with Google Earth for easy customer viewing and use. Our mapping and GIS work ranges from digitizing hand drawn maps, complex spatial model development and producing spatial wildlife density estimates. AWS also works with Cadastral and Topographic digital databases, Landsat and SPOT imagery and can provide vegetation and fire mapping services. And our GIS analyst is reasonably priced.

angas-downs-topography

GIS Services Available

  • Spatial data capture, analysis and management
  • Cadastral and topographic database and map production
  • Digital elevation models
  • Map delineation and digitization
  • Georeferencing
  • Analysis of remotely sensed data for classification, mapping and evaluation/monitoring of environmental factors
    (vegetation, landuse, fire etc)
  • Spatial modelling to support decision-making
  • Landsat TM and ETM analysis.

Examples of spatial analysis projects:

  • Wildlife population and biodiversity density assessment analysis and mapping
  • Digitizing hand drawn weed and weed survey maps for report publication
  • Vegetation classification, analysis and thematic mapping
  • Cultural and management data capture
  • Soil and geology mapping, water resource mapping
  • Proposed flight lines for aerial surveys.

For map examples and more information download AWS’s GIS Capabilities  AWS GIS Capability (987 downloads)

Introducing (more) large herbivores to Australia?

comments Comments Off on Introducing (more) large herbivores to Australia?
By , February 2, 2012 9:00 am

In a Comment in Nature: ‘Introduce large mammals and increase hunting pressure’, David Bowman is proposing a more holistic approach to managing Australia’s troubled ecosystem. He advocates introducing large mammals such as elephants, rhinoceros and even Komodo dragons to help consume flammable grasses and control feral-animal populations. At the same time, he recommends employing Aboriginal hunters who could help to control feral-animal populations and restore the traditional practice of patch burning.

AWS  believes this proposal is fundementally flawed. For one, it over looks that the Australian climate and hence the productivity of the environment is intrinsically one of boom and bust on a massive scale. How would he feed and water these large animals during the recurring busts? They would starve and trash the landscape as they starved. The impact of camels cattle and buffalo during droughts is already very damaging.

We are all in favour of more science to actively managing landscapes, and support for Aboriginal traditional practice and Aboriginal land managers to increase preferred species. How about more kangaroos to eat the grasses?  They don’t produce methane, are adapted to the consequences of climate variability by controlling their breeding, and they are already here.

New Scientist refers to AWS views. 

Buffalo and Carbon Farming Opportunities

By , December 30, 2011 11:39 am
AWS has conducted a preliminary assessment of a buffalo and pig control project in Arnhem Land to determine if it is both feasible and cost-effective under the Australian Government Carbon Farming Initiative. We have determined it could generate significant revenues for landowners and the Indigenous Rangers conducting the project.Our analysis advocates that Indigenous Protected Area managers proceed with an emission reduction project. Removal of  buffalo could generate an income which would more than cover the costs of the control operation. Benefiting from subsequent carbon sequestration is more complex; monitoring and measurement are expensive and time consuming but the income is substantially larger.

The proposed Australian Government Indigenous Carbon Farming Fund is dedicated to helping Indigenous communities enter the carbon market. Details of this program are not yet available and success in obtaining funds will take time. In the mean time Indigenous landholders have the option of proceeding with commercial investors. Doing so would enable the project to continue quickly but at a cost to the size of eventual returns for carbon units sold.