During my work experience at the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve I was exposed to a variety of areas from working with the wildlife team, rangers and other volunteers. To start the day, I assisted the wildlife team with their captive breeding program of the critically endangered Brush-tailed rock-wallaby (Petrogale penicillata). With 40 only left in the wild, this program is very important as it makes up 70% of the captive breeding population in Australia. What I found particularly interesting about this program is their cross-fostering technique. This technique is used to increase the reproduction rate by removing the joeys from their mother and pairing them with a foster mother of a similar species like the yellow-footed rock-wallaby. In doing so, the effort required by the mother to nurture her young is eliminated and the energy is spent elsewhere in reproducing more offspring.
Upon returning to the depo, I then sat in on a presentation from a year 10 student from Daramalan College, on the topic of grass trees. These trees are very interesting as like any other tree you can decipher the age of the tree and the certain environmental events by looking at its interior. By using a hacksaw and other instruments a quarter of the tree is cut back, exposing the inside without compromising the health of the tree as the core of the tree remains intact. From this you can then see the age of the tree by counting the black lines between the layers. In the reserve these trees only grow on average 1-1.5cm per year, making them 100s of years old. You can also decipher the year upon which certain bushfire events occurred. This is made evident as the trees produce resin over the top of the tree, causing deformities such a change in direction of growth or creates multiple stems.
After the presentation, I then set out with aboriginal rangers to go look at these trees at the reserve. As I was talking to the rangers and looking at the trees, it was very evident that these trees had strong ties with the indigenous populations, as they showed me how to make glue from the resin produced by the trees. We were also able to observe certain bushfire events in the mid 1900’s as the trees were very distorted and grew in odd shapes.
To finish the day, I set out with a volunteer, wildlife officer and another ranger called Rocky. Here we moved a temporary koala enclosure to a different area of the reserve to welcome a new koala. Made up a series of star pickets and large plastic fence sheets we enclosed a series of trees to create enough habitat for the koala.
The work undertaken at the reserve places a huge emphasis on conservation as shown through their work with the koalas and the wallabies. I would like to thank the team at the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, especially John Freeman for organizing my work experience and providing me with the opportunity.
Brody Caddis, u6047601
All Photos by Brody Caddis