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. [Not a valid template]

‘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. [Not a valid template]

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:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angas_Downs_Indigenous_Protected_Area

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 (1174 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 (921 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.

Aerial Surveys to estimate populations of Camels, Kangaroos, Horses…Angas Downs, NT

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By , August 4, 2010 1:30 pm

Australian Wildlife Services successfully completed aerial surveys of the Angas Downs Indigenous Protected Area and surrounding lands in June 2010 and August 2011. The surveys were flown by Dr George Wilson using standard procedures.  IPA Rangers and Jennifer Smits (AWS) counted animals seen at low level and 200m 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.  In 2010, we found there are about 3000 red kangaroos on the station, plus 500 camels and 150 horses. Using mapping program ArcGis, observations were interpolated to form maps showing spatial variability (animals/km2).

Angas Downs Aerial Survey Report (830 downloads)

Using kangaroos adaptations to produce low-emission meat

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By , July 15, 2010 9:52 am
Kangaroos are adapted to Australia's variable climate and are abundant in rangelands where cattle and sheep are raised. However landholders rarely benefit from kangaroos on their lands or play a role in their management. An exception is a Cooperative of graziers in Queensland, established in 2009 with Landcare support. The Cooperative seeks to increase the value of kangaroo products and to address kangaroos’ free ranging behaviour by enabling collaboration in their management across properties. Cooperative members are following trends throughout the world, where the value of native species is available to landholders and the result is wider conservation and biodiversity benefits. Methane from cattle and sheep is 11% of Australia's total GHG. Kangaroos, on the other hand, produce negligible amounts of methane. Farmers have few options to reduce livestock GHG emissions.  An article in New Tork Times of 13 July 2010 described how researchers are trying to make cattle digestion more like kangaroos. It is not working however and the alternative of making greater use of kangaroos themseves to produce low emission meat  is one of the objectives of the Cooperative. On the rangelands where kangaroo harvesting currently occurs, reducing cattle and sheep populations and increasing the kangaroo population to 175 million would produce the same amount of meat, and lower Australia's GHG by 16 megatonnes, or 3% of Australia's emissions. The potential carbon savings and biodiversity benefits could also be sold on in the carbon markets - voluntary or compliance, or reduce penalties when a price is placed on carbon emissions. See full paper in Conservation Letters and at this link for details of the analysis. The Cooperative is developing the mechanisms and processes which could allow these options to be taken up. While a broadscale changeover from beef and sheep to kangaroos on the rangelands is unlikely, even in the long term, greater use of kangaroos is an option that warrants further investigation as means of landholders reducing emission and adapting to climate change. Notwithstanding the potential benefits and the enthusiasm of catchment management agencies for the Cooperative, the project is languishing for lack of further funding support, including a re-estimation of the methane production by kangaroos. When livestock are included in Australia's carbon pricing mechanisms, the costs of kangaroo emissions will be significantly cheaper than those for cattle and sheep, perhaps providing the incentive for farmers to switch to kangaroos. Kangaroos and Greenhouse gases (1011 downloads) Potential investors in the Cooperative are invited to contact AWS to discuss the opportunity.

Cybertracker on Angas Downs

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By , June 26, 2010 10:20 am
Cybertracker is software built for field monitoring and data capture that enables non-literate Indigenous trackers to collect spatial data such as wildlife tracking, location of environmental and infrastructure damage, feral animal control and cultural and historical sites. Observations can be entered with simple lists tailored using relevant information fields and species lists. It is used widely across Indigenous Ranger groups in Australia. Australian Wildlife Services currently facilitate a Cybertracker program on Angas Downs, where the Angas Downs Indigenous Rangers implement wildlife and other information tracking using a TDS Nomad. The aims of implementing Cybertracker on Angas Downs IPA are to:
  • involve the Rangers in monitoring native and feral species on Angas Downs, including kuka (game) species
  • progress involvement in sustainable wildlife management
  • combine Indigenous knowledge with science to monitor environmental factors.
Australian Wildlife Services are able to tailor the Cybertracker program to suit any GPS unit containing Windows Mobile software for any purpose or area. See www.cybertracker.org

Australian Wildlife Services GIS Capabilities

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By , June 25, 2010 11:52 am
Australian Wildlife Services staff have a range of GIS and mapping capabilities including use of products ArcInfo, MapInfo, Manifold and Cybertracker.

GIS Services Available

  • Spatial data capture, analysis and management
  • Professional spatial representation of remotely sensed and ground truthed data to meet client objectives
  • Map delineation, digitisation, georeferencing of ground-truthed data
  • Analysis of remotely sensed data for classification, mapping and evaluation/monitoring of environmental factors (vegetation, landuse, fire etc)
  • Boolean logic; multi evaluation criteria and objective assessments and models to support decision-making.

Examples of spatial analysis projects:

  • Wildlife population and biodiversity density assessment analysis and mapping
  • Vegetation classification, analysis and thematic mapping
  • Cultural and management data capture
  • Soil mapping, water resource mapping
  • Development of flight lines for aerial surveys and conduct of aerial surveys.
For map examples and more information download AWS's GIS Capabilities: AWS GIS Capability (925 downloads)