Home' Traveller : Scoop Traveller WA 019 Contents 88 Scoop Traveller December-June 2011
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Mala are a small hare-wallaby, similar in size to a quokka, but with
a long coat, giving them a somewhat ‘shaggy’ appearance. They shelter
in squats under spinifex, which do not offer as much protection from
predators as tree hollows or burrows. These captive-bred animals also
did not exhibit strong ‘fight or flight’ behaviours, making them quite
vulnerable to predation by cats. As few as one or two cats were most
likely responsible for predation, returning each night to the area where
the animals were living. These mortalities provide an example of the
destruction that feral cats are capable of.
The boodies and golden bandicoots released into the fenced enclosure have
successfully established, have maintained or increased body weight and are
breeding, so that new animals are regularly being added to the population.
These will become the founders for future translocations into Lorna Glen.
It is important that we learn from experiences gained through the
translocations of species to Lorna Glen. A strategy to improve survival of
predator-vulnerable species, such as mala, was prepared and has been
implemented. Founder stock must come from the best available site, releases
must be undertaken when food resources are high (for example, after
prolonged rainfall), and released animals must be protected from predators
temporarily in a large fenced enclosure while they acclimatise to the Lorna
Glen environment. Meanwhile feral cat control and monitoring techniques
must be improved, so that predation pressure is reduced even further.
When these changes are implemented, it is expected the end result will be
the release of more ‘streetwise’ animals that will contribute to the vision of
once again having some of our unique fauna roaming free in the rangelands,
rather than being confined behind fences, or restricted to islands.
Judy Dunlop is a technical officer and oversees the operational aspects of
the fauna reintroductions at Lorna Glen. Keith Morris also works in
reintroductions as a senior principal research scientist. The Rangelands
Restoration Project is being jointly run by DEC’s Goldfields Region and Science
Division with collaborative input from Murdoch University and The University
of Western Australia. It is supported by a Commonwealth Caring for our
Country grant and the Chevron Gorgon offset program. A special thank you to
the many staff and volunteers whose time and dedication has made this project
possible, particularly Kalgoorlie DEC staff and Bruce and Kay Withnell, the
resident caretakers at Lorna Glen.
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parks and wildlife magazine. $27* is all it costs for the whole family to
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Whether for school projects, reference material or simply for leisure reading,
LANDSCOPE is ideal. By subscribing to LANDSCOPE magazine now for
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TOP The tracking tower used to monitor animals with radio collars.
ABOVE Working to reintroduce brushtail possums.
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