New thermal cameras in feral fight at Taunton

Issued: 23 Nov 2021

Image of a ranger at night on the back of a 4WD ute using a thermal camera for the monitoring and protection of the bridle nail-tail wallaby population.Open larger image

The bridle nail-tail wallaby population is being protected by the use of thermal cameras.

Image of an adult bridle nail-tail wallaby at Taunton National Park (Scientific)Open larger image

An adult bridle nail-tail wallaby at Taunton National Park (Scientific)

The Department of Environment and Science (DES) is using a new thermal camera to help protect the endangered bridled nail-tailed wallaby from feral cats in Taunton National Park (Scientific).

Ranger in Charge, Sam Richards said the $6,000 thermal camera had given Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) rangers an advantage during feral animal control programs.

“Taunton National Park (Scientific) is home to threatened species, including the bridled nail-tailed wallaby and several species of birds,” Ranger Richards said.

“Key threats to the bridled nail-tailed wallaby include predation by wild dogs and feral cats, while bird species are impacted by the feral cats.

“Feral cats are extremely cunning but they’re also very cautious. They’re wary of sound and smells and will flee whenever they feel threatened.

“They also tend to hide out during the day and emerge from burrows or tree hollows at night to scavenge and hunt.

“We have found that feral cats flee from spotlights at night and become trap and bait shy. That learned behaviour can be passed on to their young, reducing the effectiveness of conventional methods of control.

“Thankfully, the QPWS Threatened Species team funded the purchase of a thermal imaging camera to improve the operational team’s pest management activities in 2021.

“Targeting feral cats with the thermal setup is extremely important to the success of the pest management program.”

Ranger Richards said rangers identify feral cats with the thermal camera, and then locate the cat with the thermal scope on their rifles.

“The thermal camera was recently used with a nocturnal shooting control program to remove five feral cats from the national park,” he said.

“We also conducted a trapping program that led to a further eight feral cats being removed from the park and an aerial baiting program to further reduce numbers.

“Rangers regularly conduct comprehensive feral animal control programs and every feral cat we remove from the national park means our beautiful wildlife is better protected.

“Taunton National Park (Scientific) was gazetted in 1979 for the conservation of the endangered bridled nail-tailed wallaby.

“The park is home to Australia’s only naturally occurring population of the bridled nail-tailed wallaby, which once ranged from Charters Towers in Queensland through central New South Wales to the Murray River region of Victoria.

“QPWS works closely with the Ghungalu First Nations Peoples to ensure cultural heritage values are protected.

Taunton National Park Scientific fast facts:

  • The national park is around 11,700 hectares in size
  • As a scientific national park, it is not open to the public
  • It is around 135km west of Rockhampton
  • The park is managed in accordance with the Nature Conservation Act 1992 to protect land, cultural values and wildlife, particularly endangered bridled nail-tailed wallabies and their habitat, as well as a significant example of Northern Brigalow Belt plants and animals
  • It was purchased after a fencing contractor sighted a bridled nail-tailed wallaby, which was thought to be extinct
  • It supports more than 100 species of fauna and around 200 species of flora
  • This includes macropods and other mammals, over 70 species of bird and numerous reptiles and snakes
  • The vulnerable squatter pigeon and the migratory rainbow bee-eater, as well as the spotted bower bird, superb fairy-wren and the red-backed fairy-wren have been recorded
  • The vulnerable brigalow scaly-foot (a legless lizard) and the arboreal golden-tailed gecko, the large-eared pied bat and koala also live on park

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