Brown Bandicoot- Australian Wildlife Charity - FNPW

Bandicoot Super Highway

  • YEAR: 2019
  • STATE: South Australia
  • FOCUS AREAS: Saving Species/SDG 15: Life on Land

The community-led Bandicoot Superhighway Project seeks to reduce the extinction risk of the Endangered (EPBC Act) Southern Brown Bandicoot in the Mount Lofty Ranges (MLR), South Australia. The project aims to reduce the species extinction risk and has a long term vision to foster a ‘highway’ of habitat throughout the MLR. The project will achieve this by undertaking coordinated recovery interventions, aligned with recovery objectives outlined in the regional recovery plan for this species.

The world-renowned Mount Lofty Ranges is a biodiversity hotspot and critical habitat for the Endangered Southern Brown Bandicoot (Isodoon obesulus obesulus). Southern Brown Bandicoots are robust and compact marsupials which perform an ecologically important functional role in the maintenance of our native vegetation. They contribute to soil ecosystem processes, with each individual turning over approximately four tonnes of soil in search of food per year, and likewise distribute important mycorrhizae fungi that support numerous plant species. Their small digging pits and spoil piles also help provide an environment for the germination of native plants.

FNPW is working with Hills & Fleurieu Landscapes Board, Sturt Upper Reaches Landcare Group, SURLG and state (Department for Environment and Water, DEW) partners to protect bandicoot populations and reduce their regional status from Endangered to Vulnerable by 2028.

FNPW support

This project was funded through generous donations from FNPW supporters across Australia and beyond.

Project overview

Southern brown bandicoot numbers in South Australia’s Mount Lofty Ranges have been on a steady decline in recent years. Researchers have learned that bandicoot numbers are reduced by several factors including predators; changes in native habitats caused by humans, other animals and weeds; and also changes in climate. This project aims to reduce the species extinction risk and has a long term vision to foster a ‘highway’ of habitat throughout the MLR. The project will achieve this by undertaking coordinated recovery interventions, aligned with recovery objectives outlined in the regional recovery plan for this species.

Research has highlighted the need to connect genetically isolated populations of these marsupials, so they can intermingle to ensure their survival. Providing a safe environment in areas where there is a lack of native habitat is a first step to creating stepping stones between these isolated bandicoot populations.

The First Stage:

1) Engagement of a Project Development Consultant to deliver a Project Plan for the Bandicoot Project according to agreed milestones.

2) Consultations, liaison, research etc by the PDC to deliver the following milestones:

a) Orientation and agreement of deliverables

b) Outline Governance structures and Project Management model

c) Data collation/reporting and defined project outcomes

d) Project Plan development and delivery

The Second Stage

The project team recognises that maintaining habitat and increasing connectivity of habitat for bandicoots is just one component of several required actions for bandicoot recovery in the MLR. As such, this project encompasses a broad suite of recovery interventions to increase the project’s chances of success and a successful recovery outcome. The Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board, Sturt Upper reaches Landcare Group, and National Parks South Australia are collaborating to undertake a variety of tasks including:

  • increasing the area of available habitat through community planting days and corporate planting events;
  • increasing regional survey and monitoring capacity through community education and awareness raising;
  • working with government partners to foster the use of ecological burns to maintain and improve habitat quality;
  • undertaking careful weed control to keep habitat healthy and fencing of remnant vegetation to remove grazing pressure;
  • and trialing bandicoot translocations as a recovery tool to expand the species’ area of occupancy and extent of occurrence.

In addition to reducing the extinction risk of this nationally significant species, the project also aims to achieve positive flow-on effects that include improvements in local community health, a contribution to local economic prosperity, improved participant wellbeing and increased community connection with nature.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY

FNPW supports projects across Australia. In the spirit of reconciliation we acknowledge the Traditional Owners of Country and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture.

Bandicoot Bungalow - Wildlife Conservation Project - FNPW

PROGRESS OF THIS PROJECT

This project is ongoing.

FNPW has supported the protection of the Southern Brown Bandicoot since 2002 and the SA population of bandicoots since 2015.

PROJECT PARTNERS

Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board and the Sturt Upper Reaches Landcare Group, Department for Environment & Water SA are the lead organisations for this project.

Further information about our project partner can be found on their websites:

Sturt Upper Reaches Landcare Group – www.surlg.org.au

SA Department for Environment & Water – www.environment.sa.gov.au

Latest Update

A landscape protection burn at Ironbank last December will help expand habitat for the Southern Brown Bandicoots. The prescribed burn was carried out by Nationals Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia on 15 hectares of private land near Mark Oliphant Conservation Park.

Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board Regional Ecologist, Luke Price, said that “the burn will help create additional habitat for bandicoots when it regenerates.” Prior to the burn the project team and the NPWS undertook surveys in the burn area and adjacent habitat using remote cameras. Results showed bandicoots present in the better quality habitats and none in the more “open” proposed burn site. The results did not come as a surprise.

“Quite often ageing or degraded native vegetation is viewed as healthy habitat at first glance, but in many areas, further scrutiny can reveal degradation due to various combinations of weed infestation, overgrazing by kangaroos and deer, or the prolonged absence of fire. This area was a prime example. Overgrazing by native and introduced herbivores, competition from weeds and extended fire-interval all contributed to reduced habitat value for bandicoots in this case,” said Luke. The use of appropriate ecological fire management across the landscape is a cost effective and efficient way to maximise habitat for many threatened species in the region.

The burn is only one part of the process for this project. They are investigating temporary fencing options with the landholder for minimising excessive kangaroo and deer grazing at the site while the vegetation regenerates.

Remote cameras will continue being used for surveying and monitoring at the burn site to see when bandicoots return, and the results will help NPWSSA plan future prescribed burns to improve outcomes for threatened species and manage bushfire risk. The team will host a workshop in the coming months for community groups and the general public to learn more about bandicoots, how to use remote cameras and identify diggings for bandicoot surveys, amongst other things to help direct recovery efforts.

A community planting day is also planned for mid-2022 to expand available habitat for a priority bandicoot population in Mark Oliphant Conservation Park.

Keep an eye on the Fleurieu’s page Bandicoot Superhighway project page for further information about the project and how you can be involved.

Connecting Habitat

Bandicoot “Super Highway” Shifts Into Next Gear

Connecting habitat to protect Bandicoots in the Adelaide Hills

Sturt Upper Reaches Landcare Group (SURLG) in partnership with Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board and the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife are delighted to announce the appointment of Bec Duffield as project manager for the next stage of this vital project.  Restoring ground cover in areas where there is a lack of native habitat is a first step to creating stepping stones between the isolated Southern brown Bandicoot populations.

Researchers have learned that bandicoot numbers are reduced by several factors including predators; changes in native habitats caused by humans, other animals and weeds; and also changes in climate. This has highlighted the need to connect genetically isolated populations of these marsupials, so they can intermingle to ensure their survival.

The ultimate project aim is to downgrade the listing of the bandicoot from endangered to vulnerable, securing its existence in the region for generations to come.

“The recent visit to the project area by the SA Minister for the Environment, the Hon. David Speirs MP and now this funding through FNPW has put a new burst of enthusiasm into our group for the Bandicoot project.” said Danny Rohrlach, President of the SURLG. The long-term outcome of this work will be improved bandicoot habitat and connectivity from Williamstown to Deep Creek that will also benefit biodiversity conservation of the region.

“FNPW is extremely pleased to be able to provide funding to the Sturt Upper Reaches Landcare Group to take this important next step, thanks to the generosity of our wonderful supporters” said Ian Darbyshire, CEO of the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife. “We look forward to working with Bec & SURLG as they steer the development of this very exciting project!”

Building Bungalows

Building Bungalows for Bandicoots

Southern brown bandicoot numbers in South Australia’s Mount Lofty Ranges have been on a steady decline in recent years. Researchers have learned that bandicoot numbers are reduced by several factors including predators; changes in native habitats caused by humans, other animals and weeds; and also changes in climate.

Research has highlighted the need to connect genetically isolated populations of these marsupials, so they can intermingle to ensure their survival. Providing a safe environment in areas where there is a lack of native habitat is a first step to creating stepping stones between these isolated bandicoot populations.

In areas with a lack of native habitat available, bandicoot bungalows have been constructed from pallets to provide these creatures with a home base and stepping stones into new territory, using branches, grass and sticks to the top to provide dense shelter.

To assess the suitability of these new dwellings, bandicoot ‘Big Brother’ is watching to capture video data on how often, and in what way, the bandicoots use the structures. The next stage of this project will involve the deployment of more bandicoot bungalows and wildlife cameras to assess whether these ‘big nest boxes’ can help the endangered creatures move into habitat that is currently unsuitable.

FNPW gratefully appreciates the involvement of the Sturt Upper Reaches Landcare Group and University of Adelaide in this project.

Project gallery

An example of a “Suburban” Bandicoot Bungalow

Bandicoot Bush style bungalow – Step 2 – add more stakes to stop predators reaching in to get to bandicoots

Bandicoot Bush bangalow – step 3 – add heavy items on top to hold the bungalow in place and protect the bandicoots

Bandicoot Bush bungalow – step 4 – add anything else on top to help make it look part of the landscape – decorate it

Bandicoot bush bungalow in situ with suitable vegatation planted – they plan to regularly take photos of the progress

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