Image Courtesy of Donal Sullivan

Warddeken Mayh Project

A Species Recovery Project

  • YEAR: 2020
  • STATE: Northern Territory
  • FOCUS AREAS: Saving Species/SDG 15: Life on Land

In the face of catastrophic and ongoing mammal declines in northern Australia, the Mayh Recovery Project seeks to improve the status of key mammal species in the Warddeken IPA through informed adaptive management of key threatening processes. Of the mammal species that are targeted by the monitoring activities of the Mayh Recovery Project, 30% are listed as threatened in the NT and nationally (see list below).

FNPW support

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

Project overview

At the centre of this project is the Mayh Monitoring Network, a long term ecological monitoring program, established in 2017. The Network consists of 120 monitoring sites strategically located across the IPA, which are sampled using remote sensing cameras. In this project timeframe, Warddeken rangers were scheduled to complete the first resampling of the Network across the final 60 sites. Following the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the team have been able to resample 36 monitoring sites this field season, and are currently processing the 900,000 images collected, the remaining 24 sites will be sampled in 2021.

The project contributes to regional efforts to understand and mitigate small and medium mammal declines across Northern Australia. The data from the monitoring network will form the bedrock for innovative recovery and conservation projects for mammals in the IPA.

Over 50% of the distribution of the Nationally Endangered ecological community Arnhem Plateau Sandstone Shrubland Complex occurs in the IPA and is habitat for many of these species. The causes of decline are landscape scale, often insidious and involve the interplay of the multiple threats including inappropriate fire regimes, feral herbivores, feral cats and Cane Toads, weeds and potentially disease.

Managing 1.4 million hectares including close to 50% of the Arnhem Plateau, Warddeken Land Management Limited (WLML) is uniquely placed to make substantial recovery and conservation gains for these species and communities.

The initial priority of the project was to establish a long-term Mayh monitoring network using motion cameras to understand the effect of fire and feral management in the Warddeken IPA on key species of cultural and conservation concern, as per the Warddeken IPA Plan of Management 2016-2020. Understanding which landscape scale management regimes produce the most beneficial fine scale conditions for different species is complex, and the subject of a great body of ongoing research. By sampling with motion sensing cameras using a method deployed by other research organisations (including the Northern Territory Government), WLML is contributing to regional efforts to understand and mitigate small and medium mammal declines across Northern Australia.

The data from the monitoring network will form the bedrock for innovative interventionist recovery and conservation projects for mammals in the IPA. Baseline sampling has already revealed previously unrecorded populations of the nationally endangered Northern Quoll and Black Footed Tree Rats, which would benefit from finer scale threat management – particularly during vulnerable life stages such as mating and fledging young. Without a robust monitoring regime, WLML would not be able to evaluate the effect of management actions and therefore amplify their success.

Threatened mammal species amenable to sampling with camera traps:

Arnhem Rock-rat (Zyzomys maini) VU (NT), VU (National)

Black Wallaroo (Macropus bernardu) Data deficient

Black-footed Tree-rat (Mesembriomys gouldii) VU (NT) EN (National)

Brush-tailed Rabbit-rat (Conilurus penicillatus) EN (NT) VU (National)

Fawn Antechinus (Antechinus bellus) EN (NT) VU (National)

Golden-backed Tree-rat (Mesembriomys macrurus) CR (NT) VU (National)

Kakadu Dunnart (Sminthopsis bindi) Data deficient

Nabarlek (Petrogale concinna) VU (NT) EN (National)

Northern Brush-tailed Phascogale (Phascogale pirata) EN (NT) VU (National)

Northern Hopping-mouse (Notomys aquilo) VU (NT) VU (National)

Northern Quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus) CR (NT) EN (National)

Pale Field-rat (Rattus tunneyi) VU (NT)

Red-cheeked Dunnart (Sminthopsis virginiae) Data deficient

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.

PROGRESS OF THIS PROJECT

The project is ongoing.

This project was funded by FNPW in 2020.

PROJECT PARTNERS

KKT (Karrkad Kanjdji Trust) is the lead organisation for this project.

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

www.kkt.org.au

Latest news on this project.

The support of the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife has allowed Warddeken to begin a research project investigating the extent of two populations of the Northern Quoll (djabbo), which were uncovered through the monitoring program. The project involves establishing a 70 camera station grid at each site to understand the size of the djabbo and feral cat populations. The team were able to start, but not complete the first grid on the Barradj clan estate this field season (more detail below).

In exciting developments, senior daluk (female) rangers from the Manmoyi ranger base have designed and begun to implement a second research project to investigate a suspected decline of the Orange-footed Scrub-fowl (kurrkurlanj). This project is a bininj (Indigenous) priority, as the kurrkurlanj is a culturally important species, and while the daluk team have back end support from the IPA’s Monitoring Officer, they have taken charge of all the field work for this project. The cameras from the first monitoring sites will be retrieved soon.

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