Tag Archives: endangered

Horses and Beef also cause extinction

Here’s a little (unfinished) video which I shot and edited on the run in the Northern Territory, Australia.  The location is about one hour drive east of Alice Springs, known as Ross Creek.  “Arid” is a description which covers more than 90% of this country, water is the most precious commodity.

We call places where water naturally occurs a rock-hole, a waterhole, a soak or a well. They were revered and cared for for thousands of years by the first Australians. In the middle east they would be called oases. What WE do is use them to water stock (and make money). This is achieved by simply running stock on land with unrestricted access to natural waterholes. This video is an attempt to show the results of this practice. Native species have to cope with what is left, a stinking brew of warm mud, urine and faeces.

One can only wonder how much of our wonderful wildlife is slowly being poisoned on a daily basis.  They have no choice but to drink what is left.

Homesteaders proudly describe their properties by the square kilometer, holdings are huge by any standard. Beef cattle raising is one of very few ways money can be made from these arid lands, but at what cost?

Most effective way to save small Australian mammals

The most effective way to save  endangered Australian mammals, birds and biodiversity without spending one conservation dollar.  It might seem weird but the release of Rabbit Hemorrhage Disease Virus reduced cat and fox impacts. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-17/rabbit-control-research-rhdv-threatened-mammals-south-australia/7177600#

rabbitIt’s easy to photograph rabbits even if you live in a major Australian city. This one 10km from Melb CBD.

Lead researcher Reece Pedler from Natural Resources SA Arid Lands said the results were compelling.“We found that three threatened mammals, the dusky hopping mouse, the plains mouse and the crest-tailed mulgara, had undergone huge changes in their distribution,” Mr Pedler said…“Some of those species have increased their extent of occurrence by between 250 and 350 per cent, so they have made massive increases in their range.”

And in Rabbit biocontrol and landscape-scale recovery
of threatened desert mammals
Reece D. Pedler,∗ ¶ Robert Brandle,∗ John L. Read,†‡ Richard Southgate,§ Peter Bird,∗∗
and Katherine E. Moseby†‡
“In an era of increasing conservation crisis, costefficiency
in conservation planning and investment is
critical (Carwardine et al. 2012; McDonald et al. 2015).
Well-considered actions that simultaneously abate threats
relevant to multiple species and ecosystems are keys
to maximizing conservation outcomes (Auerbach et al.
2014). Despite this, many celebrated conservation successes
feature intense single-species captive breeding
and reintroduction programs for endangered flagship
mammals. Some expensive examples include recovery
actions for the black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes) in
North America, which have involved nearly 50 government
agencies in the captive breeding of 6000 individuals
(Jachowski et al. 2011), with 100 wild-released animals
costing US$29,100/individual (Bodenchuk et al.
2000). Similarly, recovery of the golden lion tamarin
(Leontopithecus rosalia) has involved intense captive
breeding and wild-population translocation, requiring
millions of dollars in investment sustained over 4
decades (Kierulff et al. 2012). Although these examples
may represent extreme cases, where extinction
risk is high, they highlight the high costs of 11th hour
intensive conservation intervention compared with preventative
measures implemented at earlier stages.
Within our study area, single-species-focused conservation
actions for small mammals have also gained much
emphasis, but these costly species recovery plans are
seldom funded and are perhaps too narrowly focused
and unrealistic in sparsely populated regions (Southgate
2014). Single-species recovery planning for the plains
mouse prescribes research and small-scale habitat protection
costing AU$895,000 over 5 years (Moseby 2011).
Four-year recovery actions for the crest-tailed mulgara
(published in the same year as RHDV’s introduction)
were estimated at AU$852,000 (Morris et al. 1996). Few
of these identified actions were funded or enacted, and revised
actions have since been identified (Woinarski et al.
2014). In the meantime, both species have recovered significantly
because of action that (somewhat fortuitously)
addressed common threatening processes that simultaneously
benefited other species, ecosystems, and important
agricultural industries on a continent wide scale (Cox
et al. 2013). This multispecies recovery provided by rabbit
biocontrol arguably costs nothing, as the AU$12 million
cost to introduce RHDV has been recouped many
times over by the AU$350 million annual benefit to agriculture
alone (Saunders et al. 2010).
In arid inland Australia, the release of the rabbit
biocontrol agent RHDV has been the single most
important and cost-effective conservation action for
small threatened mammals (and a range of other taxa and
ecosystems) in recent decades. This result highlights the
power of harnessing trophic cascades as a wide-reaching
conservation tool. Although the scale of RHDV’s benefits
was not foreseen at the time of its introduction, these
changes were detected through multiple long-term monitoring
data sets, without which the important applied
conservation lessons may have been missed. Sustained recovery
depends on the continued suppression of rabbits
and by extension of cats and foxes through adaptation
and release of new rabbit biocontrol agents. The
associated benefits to agricultural industries alone
would provide substantial net economic gain from
this relatively cheap yet wide-reaching action. Such
broad-scale conservation management initiatives with
appropriate long-term monitoring should be prioritized
over single-species-focused recovery actions or smallscale
intensive programs.”






Squirrel Glider from cardboard box continued…

After much time and effort I managed to get most of the fluffy tail cut and assembled..

glider prog 9.5

I use fresh box cutter blades and use cardboard which I has one layer of paper carefully removed by wetting the surface. Then its time to crank up the ipod.

glider prog 11

I have given the tail a trim and blow-wave to settle the ‘fur’. I will come back to this at a more finished stage.

glider prog 12 detail

Details such as ears claws and eyes bring the piece to life. It’s best to use plastic pegs to clamp surfaces together, they don’t stick to PVA glue.

Throughout the process I look at ways to achieve a natural posture for the species, note the change of angle.

I will post more progress photos in the coming weeks.

Petaurus norfolcensis (endangered in Victoria) will become part of an installation to be seen at: The G.R.A.I.N. Store, Nathalia and will be opened Sunday June 19th, 2016 4pm by John Kean https://www.australianbookreview.com.au/about/author/1170-johnkean


Squirrel Glider from a cardboard box.

squirrel glider in hand

A Squirrel Glider Petaurus norfolcensis (endangered in Victoria) held by Deb Fowler of Bohollow Wildlife Rescue, photographed  by me in Kotupna Victoria 2015. This little chap had been injured and was ready for release.

He’s some progress photos of how to make a Squirrel Glider from this…


So here’s my progress so far:

glider prog 1

A basic shape

glider prog 3

Building up a shape

glider prog 4

Adding limbs and looking at posture

glider prog 5

Modifying head angle and increasing tail size

glider prog 6

glider prog 9

Starting work on tail detail (very time consuming)

More about the species and some amazing efforts to minimise road casualties can be seen at: https://lifeontheverge.net/tag/road-ecology/

I will post more progress photos in the coming weeks.

The G.R.A.I.N. Store exhibition in Nathalia will be opened Sunday June 19th, 2016 4pm by John Kean https://www.australianbookreview.com.au/about/author/1170-johnkean



Great news from Sumatra!

Great to read this is happening in Sumatra especially considering pressures to develop and to grow palm oil.

sumatran rhino

Pity Australia seems unable to make similar decisions in regard to the demise of our own unique species. Conservation science here works with almost no support from policy makers and a public generally unaware of imminent species loss. President Joko Widodo, Siti Nurbaya and people like Farwiza Farhan must be regarded as heroes and congratulated.   https://theconversation.com/good-news-for-the-only-place-on-earth-where-tigers-rhinos-orangutans-and-elephants-live-together-58777


Communicating Ecology, Barmah Forest and Nathalia

My last 2 weeks have been educational both for me and the arts community in Nathalia, (Yorta Yorta country) Northern Victoria. Meeting and working with US artist Bill Kelly OAM https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Kelly_(artist) was a privilege.


His wealth of experience and understanding of the role of the arts in communities and his establishment of THE G.R.A.I.N. STORE (Growing Rural Art In Victoria) http://www.thegrainstore.org/  added hugely to the value of my residency.

Ancient Barmah remnant Red-gums inspired this installation piece:


together with Superb Parrots by pre-schoolers:

kids parrots.jpg inspired by…

superb parrot3

some of which I saw on the Broken Creek and known as “Green Leeks”in the Nathalia district. Unfortunately green leeks are becoming a difficult to find species due to loss of food/nesting trees. I noticed large paddock trees ‘still being burnt in the area south of Picola, prime box eucalypt food habitat for Polytelis swainsonii. The recent trend by croppers to implement overhead spray irrigation means large paddock trees are being destroyed by the thousands (bush poet, indigenous plant seeding expert,Tammy Muir https://twitter.com/logiemuir)


Sculptured Green Leeks (by pre-schoolers) at their cardboard “hollow”.

A combined artist/community exhibition will take place at THE G.R.A.I.N STORE  in June 2016.





Cardboard Redgums and half-cooked creatures

We have been in residence at Nathalia Grainstore now for one and a half weeks and our redgum (which had to be finished before the weekend due to size limitations) is well on the way.


Tomorrow is another day and we will be seeing 20 pre-schoolers who will be making superb parrots which will be included in the final installation. Superb parrots are a rare and diminishing species and this part of the country is major habitat, red gums near water seem to be a favourite place for them to find nesting hollows.

Ian with kookaburra

Local lad and workshop participant Ian Bolton heads off with his masterpiece. However not everyone sees benefit in maintaining species and habitat..


heather looking in can

I could not have achieved what I have without the help of my partner and lover Heather, who has shown her graphic skills are still up to par.


Three days remain for my residency and still so much to do. Exhibition is scheduled for June.