News from the Field

Wildlife bouncing back at North Head Sanctuary

12 Mar. 2021
© Kayla Johnstone/AWC

Green shoots are sprouting at North Head Sanctuary in Sydney, as the headland recovers from a hazard reduction burn that got out of control in October last year (AWC was not involved in the burn).

Since the fire, AWC ecologists have been supporting the ecosystem’s recovery on the ground, installing shelter tunnels, nest boxes and water stations and monitoring populations of native animals. Results from recent work suggest that wildlife has already started to bounce back.

 

Image B Video Thumbnail Bandicoot Tunnel
AWC’s critical post-fire recovery work featured on ABC News last week; you can catch up on the story at the AWC Facebook page.

 

You can also watch Gardening Australia on ABC TV tonight (Friday March 12) to learn more about AWC’s native mammal reintroduction program at North Head.

In the days and weeks after the fire, AWC installed shelter tunnels to provide additional protection to surviving wildlife from predators. The shelter tunnels are constructed of chicken wire and shade cloth, a design developed by arid zone ecologists and deployed widely in the aftermath of the Black Summer bushfires. These shelters were installed at several other sites in 2020 where AWC was involved in bushfire recovery efforts, including on Kangaroo Island, in northern NSW, and at Wollombi in the Hunter region.

Motion-sensor camera traps show that the tunnels are being used by North Head’s endangered population of Long-nosed Bandicoots, as well as by Bush Rats. These small native rodents have re-established at the site thanks to AWC’s successful reintroduction program.

A research project, supported by AWC, is now underway to investigate the effectiveness of these post-fire interventions.

 

Image C Shelter Tunnel © Holly Nelson/AWC
In the days and weeks after the fire, AWC installed shelter tunnels to provide additional protection to surviving wildlife from predators.

 

A second species reintroduced by AWC, the Eastern Pygmy Possum, has also been detected in the months since the fire, making use of the extra nest boxes that have been installed. Some of the Pygmy Possums have been detected with new young, a hopeful sign that the population is continuing to grow.

 

Image D Eastern Pygmy Possum Copy © Aliesha Dodson/AWC
There are positive signs that Eastern Pygmy Possums have continued breeding at North Head, as the population becomes established.

 

At North Head, AWC is contracted by Harbour Trust to deliver research and monitoring projects, with a particular focus on restoring small mammalian pollinators for the critically endangered Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub. AWC is not contracted to deliver fire management on the headland.

 

Viyanna © C Thomas/AWC
AWC is contracted to deliver conservation services on North Head, including restoring small mammal species which act as important pollinators.

 

Australia’s wildlife needs our help now more than ever. Thank you for your support, which is enabling AWC to restore populations of native animals around Australia.

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