Thanks to Southern Ark, populations of native animals such as endangered Long-nosed potoroos and Southern brown bandicoots have a greater chance of surviving in East Gippsland.
Southern Ark is a collaborative, landscape scale approach to fox management. It aims to protect small native mammals, birds and reptiles from fox attacks. Through fox control, the Ark is supporting the recovery of biodiversity in the region.
The program covers over 800,000 ha of public land and involves three key government agencies – the Department of Sustainability and Environment, Parks Victoria and the Department of Primary Industries. While the focus is on protecting public land, there is also a community baiting program underway on neighbouring private land.
Monitoring is an integral part of the Ark. Cage trapping and extensive hair-tubing is carried out to measure biodiversity response to fox control. Remote cameras are also being trialled, capturing images of a wide range of native animals, as well as foxes and wild cats.
- Southern Ark is the largest fox control program in eastern Australia, and the largest program in Australia using buried baits.
- Since Southern Ark began there has been a significant reduction in fox numbers.
- Remote camera have captured images of endangered Long-footed Potoroos with young near Cann River. This extends the known habitat of these creatures.
- Evidence of the endangered Broad-toothed Rat has also been found.
Community involvement is an integral part of Southern Ark
- To build local capacity, 70-100 students each year are trained in wildlife management with the Ark. A number of these students are later hired as contractors.
- To build awareness amongst the region’s visitors, holiday programs are run and campers are encouraged to log sightings of native animals at popular campsites.
- Volunteers from the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria (FNCV) have also carried out fauna surveys.
Stories from the field
Our crew member, Simon Ruff, talks about an amazing day on the job.
"It had already been a good day – beautiful sunshine and great conditions on the sometimes tricky 4WD tracks.... As I was doing my last couple of bait stations for the day... I noticed an emu only 10-15 metres away behaving oddly. The male seemed rather panicked, but made no effort to move away. As he looked frantically about, I noticed the six chicks that he was trying to round up... As I watched, a large Wedge Tailed eagle appeared from nowhere, swooping directly in front of my vehicle and coming to perch in a tree above old man emu. The emu frantically tried to keep his chicks together as he attempted to move them to cover, but unfortunately one was a little slow. The eagle dropped from the tree, snatched the chick and disappeared as quickly as he had arrived. Harsh, but fair - I guess that’s one of the things that we’re trying to achieve with the Southern Ark Project: natural predators taking natural prey."
Before Southern Ark
Project Deliverance was the predecessor of Southern Ark. It ran from 1998-2003 and was designed to determine the response of native animals to ongoing fox control.
Further information is available at Southern Ark Q & A.
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