Rare bandicoot sighted in SA forest for first time since Ash Wednesday fires

Updated

February 07, 2018 17:24:27

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An infrared sensor camera caught this rare sighting of the southern brown bandicoot. (Supplied: Natural Resources SA)
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Kangarilla 5157
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The endangered southern brown bandicoot seems by nature to be a shy and elusive creature — so much so that sightings in the wild are extremely rare.For a start, the miniature marsupials are nocturnal, foraging on forest floors and scrub to feed on insects, ferns and plants.They only grow to about 30 centimetres in length, and their populations are patchy, distributed mostly throughout the nation’s southern fringes.Once common, their numbers have dwindled as a result of pressure from introduced species.But a motion sensor camera has captured a rare sighting of one of the bandicoots just south of Adelaide.Rangers say it is the first recorded sighting of the animal in nearly four decades in Kuitpo Forest near Kangarilla.”This is the first visual confirmation of the bandicoot within Forestry SA land since the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983,” Kuitpo ranger Lennan Whiting said. Photo:
An ecologist says blackberry plants can provide good protection from predators. For this reason blackberry removal must be staged and strategic,” Dr Sparrow said.”Areas of dense native understorey need to be in place as alternative habitat before blackberry is taken out.”

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The southern brown bandicoot is considered an endangered species nationally. (Supplied: Hayley Davis)
In 2016, volunteers began creating a wildlife corridor across 19 properties between Belair National Park and Mark Oliphant Conservation Park in the Adelaide Hills to support the bandicoots.Last year, the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife said residents could do simple things to help preserve the region’s southern brown bandicoot population.”Plant some native species — keep your own pets under control, talk to your neighbours [and] see if they will do the same,” CEO Ian Darbyshire said.”[People can] create some corridors throughout the Mount Lofty Ranges [Adelaide Hills] so the animals can move around, mate, meet and spread the gene pool around.”Dr Sparrow said weed control efforts for blackberries would aim to contain the plants rather than immediately remove them, to give more time for native vegetation to regenerate.Rangers now plan to put more sensor cameras in other areas of remnant vegetation in Mount Lofty Ranges forest reserves as they hope to gain a better understanding of the bandicoots’ distribution.They say there are 20,000 hectares of state forest in the region and close to one-third is managed solely for biodiversity conservation. (ABC News: Eliza Buzacott-Speer)
The fires killed 14 people in the Adelaide Hills region and another 14 in the south-east of South Australia.Local Landcare volunteers and environment staff had suspected the species’ presence and reported diggings last spring, so cameras were set up in the hope of getting a confirmation.”The sighting took place in native remnant vegetation well suited to bandicoots — stringybark woodland with a dense understorey of mainly bracken and yaccas,” ecologist Elisa Sparrow said.She said there were also blackberry bushes in the area, which provided excellent protection from predators.”[It] is also a declared weed.
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