Two malleefowl monitoring training sessions aiming to standardise monitoring methods across the Australian states took place in Kalgoorlie and Norseman last month.
The Norseman training was run as part of the Ngadju Malleefowl and Weeds project, supported by Rangelands NRM through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.
The project is working to increase the capacity of Ngadju and volunteers in the Southern Rangelands to understand, protect and conserve threatened species such as malleefowl in the Great Western Woodlands.
National Malleefowl Recovery Team members Joe Benshemesh and Tim Burnard are also holding training sessions in Merredin, Dalwallinu, Murray Bridge, Wyperfeld, Scotia, West Wyalong, Dubbo, Lock and Secret Rocks (Eyre Peninsula) this Spring.
“Another reason for these sessions is to satisfy the need for more people to help us monitor new sites generated by the Adaptive Management (AM) project,” Mr Burnard said.
The AM project’s priority is to understand the role of fox and cat predation on malleefowl persistence.
“We currently monitor about 120 sites across all states. The AM project might result in about 30 more sites, which is a significant increase in mounds to be monitored each year, about an extra 1000 mounds,” said Mr Burnard.
It is likely that some of these sites will not be able to use the new technologies for locating mounds and ground searches will be needed. That’s another big effort that is often undertaken by malleefowl lovers.
Clearly there’s a need to attract more people to the malleefowl family and train them in the National Monitoring methods.
He said Kalgoorlie was good example of the AM project in progress.
Cliffs Resources have an operation at Mount Jackson, Western Australia where they monitor about 200 mounds on land they manage.
The company have agreed to take part in the AM project and will report on both malleefowl activity and predator activity.
Mr Burnard said they needed a nearby site of more than 10,000 ha where no fox control was being done.
“Fortunately, the Kalgoorlie office of Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) has just such a site at the nearby Mount Manning Conservation Park,” he said.
First, the new site needs to be searched to identify all of the existing mounds.
DPaW used the new technology ‘photogrammetry’ to find 83 suspected mounds.
Mr Benshemesh said the next step is to check them to make sure they are malleefowl mounds and then to start the annual monitoring process.
This mammoth task has been taken up by Parks and Wildlife Officer Jenifer Jackson.
“The Kalgoorlie training weekend was a big boost for Jennifer’s undertaking,” he said.
We had 15 people atttend mostly from the Goldfields Naturalists Club, learning how to monitor Malleefowl mounds.
“I was particularly taken by the huge mound we monitored over 10 metres diameter, apparently not unusual in this region,” said Mr Benshemesh.
In Norseman, the team also explained how to set up long-term malleefowl monitoring sites that can contribute to local Ngadju knowledge and also to the National database without compromising confidentiality over sites.
Mr Benshemesh said the Kalgoorlie and Norseman training boded well for the support of the AM project across the other sites in Australia.
1) Ngadju Rangers inspecting an old malleefowl mound with Joe Benshemesh.
2) The Kalgoorlie group learning to operate monitoring tools.
Photographs by Tim Burnard.