During the first two days of April this year, I was involved in a volunteer work at Scottsdale Reserve, at 75km south of Canberra. Historically, the area suffered a lot with invasive species, over-grazing and altered fire regimes. One might think that it was a lost case, that conservation efforts would not be able to recover what’s been lost, that the damage was done.
But not for Bush Heritage Australia!
In 2006 this non-profit organization acquired the 1328 hectares and, with the help of supporters and an intensive volunteer work, was able to make progress in restoring native grassland and grassy woodlands, and also protecting native fauna.
My little contribution to this project consisted in help monitoring of reptiles, kangaroo grazing and invasive animals.
Scottsdale reserve contains 16 reptile species with some listed as vulnerable nationally, like the striped legless lizard. In order to monitor their occurrence in the reserve we went to pre-determined sites which had several transects. Each transects had a certain amount of numbered tiles and our job was basically lift all of them looking for any reptile. Then, we got the animals, identified them and recorded their occurrence in our data sheet. Let’s just say that it is a lot harder than it seems, they were incredibly fast and small, almost too fast for me!
We were able to record mainly delicate skinks, three-toe skinks and grass skinks:
Grass skink (Lampropholis guitchenoti)
We also found a species of frog!!! =D
Besides spending hours lifting tiles, we also participated in kangaroo surveying. You might be thinking that we would spend the whole afternoon looking for those cute and furry animals, but the truth is that our method is much less glamorous than that…instead, we had to count kangaroo pellets.
Counting their pellets is one of the most popular (if you can say so) methods in surveying population size. We delimitated 100m transects and put markers each 6m. In these spots we delimitated a circular area of 1m diameter and then we cleared all the pellets. Some weeks from that day someone would come back and count how many pellets the animals left in those areas.
Estimating number of Kangaroos in the property is vital to know how much of the area is being grazed regularly by them, as the overpopulation of these animals can be a threat to the native vegetation.
At last, but not least, we also helped to check the fences in one area of the reserve, looking for holes that could be used by rabbits and foxes. We then installed camera traps in some of the points to check whether those paths were being used by those invasive species.
Several animals in the reserve are threatened by these species, so it is essential to control their entrance.
Yellow tailed black cockatoo spotted in Scottsdale Reserve.
Overall it was a great opportunity to have hands on experience in some conservation methods used in Australia and I hope I can bring back all this knowledge to home sweet home, Brazil.
by Renata Magalhaes (u5409483)
Further reading: http://www.bushheritage.org.au/places-we-protect/state_new_south_wales/places-we-protect/state_new_south_wales/scottsdale