Monday, January 30, 2012

Spectacled Hare-wallaby Roadkill in The Tanami...

Spectacled Hare-wallaby Lagorchestes conspicillatus. Just north of Rabbit Flats, Tanami Rd, NT. Photo: Dave Price.
Some bittersweet news this morning when I got into the office. Dave Price, photographer extraordinaire and regular contributor to our newsletters and blog posts, has sent in some more pics. Unfortunately, he and wife Bess found a roadkilled Spectacled Hare-wallaby Lagorchestes conspicillatus, just north of Rabbit Flats on the Tanami Road. Initially they thought it might have been a Mala Lagorchestes hirsutus, but these are sadly now almost certainly gone from the wild in this area. The Spectacled Hare-wallaby is still holding out though. This is a slightly larger animal which is easily identified by the prominent rufous "spectacles" for which it is named.

Interestingly, in 1997 a population of Spectacled Hare-wallabies was discovered in the south-west of Papua New Guinea, making it one of very few macropods that isn't endemic to Australia.

Spectacled Hare-wallaby. Photo: Dave Price.
It's always a shame to see wildlife killed on the road, but I guess it at least shows us that they're still out there and gives us a chance to see some of these more elusive animals close up. We'd love to hear from anyone else that has found an out-of-the-ordinary roadkill. If you do a bit of driving and find anything of interest drop us a line and let us know about your discovery.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Ayers Rock Yulara Resort Gives Land for Wildlife the Thumbs Up!

Dunes; a haven for all sorts of wildlife in the western deserts.
Exciting news this week with management at Ayers Rock Yulara Resort giving the go ahead for full registration of the resort with Land for Wildlife. This is the culmination of many months of collaboration between LFW coordinators Jesse and Chris and Adrienne Horton, a representative from resort managers, Voyages.

Adrienne has several bold conservation initiatives planned, to increase biodiversity in the area surrounding the resort and preserve and protect the fragile dune ecosystem. We'll keep you posted as plans come to fruition!

A heartfelt congratulations to Adrienne, who has worked tirelessly to see the registration through, and whose passion for conservation has been the foundation of this exciting new partnership.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Scribblers of The Centre - Get Busy!

Got something on your mind? (Pic. innoxiuss Wikicommons.)
 If you've got something on your mind, we'd love to hear from you. Jesse and Chris are always looking for interesting wildlife stories and photographs for the newsletter, interstate newsletters, and this blog.

If you've got some pictures or tales to share and think they might be appropriate for distribution to the national Land for Wildlife network, drop us an email and tell us all about it.

Maybe you've seen an unusual animal interaction in your yard or perhaps you have some unidentified plants or animals. Whatever it is, pass it on and we can help to disperse it to a wider audience.

There are no deadlines, so just get those creative juices flowing and let us all see the results!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

LFW - Spreading the Word Further in 2012...

2012 is rapidly building pace, and Jesse and Chris are looking for new memberships everywhere, but there are two areas we are particularly interested in at the moment. We have received some funding recently from long-time supporter Territory Eco-link, to start helping landholders on indigenous and pastoral lands in central Australia.

These are two types of land tenure that often protect large and continuous tracts of remnant wildlife habitat. Many pastoral and indigenous landholders are natural land managers with a keen eye for conservation, making these lands highly suitable for membership with Land for Wildlife.

This is where the member network comes in. If you have any suggestions for potential member properties or contacts with landholders in these areas, we'd love to hear from you. The first part of this project is going to involve contacting potential new members and then traveling around to do the on-ground assessments. Any assistance from our existing members in locating suitable properties for this exciting new step for Land for Wildlife would be gratefully received.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Mystery Skull Baffles the Land for Wildlife Office

Throughout the year, numerous Land for Wildlife members send us interesting photographs and specimens of plants and animals they find on their properties. Often they come with the question “What is it?”

Usually we’re able to answer that question, sometimes with a bit of research, conversations with colleagues at Low Ecological Services, or by forwarding the material to relevant people in the know. It’s not often that something has us completely baffled about its identity.

One regular contributor to our growing stockpile of photographs and specimens is Uwe Path, whose Pathdorf bed and breakfast property is nestled between the race course and Todd River. Since becoming a Land for Wildlife member, Uwe has come across some interesting finds on his property, particularly after the rains of the previous years and after carrying out weed control and buffel removal activities.

Just before Christmas, Uwe emailed these pictures of a skull found on his property.


Photos: Uwe Path

On first impressions, the skull above resembles that of a dog or fox, especially with those vicious looking canines. But when we viewed the photo with some scale (the 50c coin), the tiny size immediately ruled out that possibility.

We really were stumped with this one – Land for Wildlife and Low Ecological staff alike. Several suggestions were made including bats, a very young dog of small breed and several others. But it wasn’t until we had the skull in hand that its identity was made clearer.

When inspected in the hand, the skull showed characteristics of a small, carnivorous marsupial, or Dasyurid. Being a little large for a Dunnart, our best guesses were a Fat Tailed Antechinus, or perhaps even a Mulgara.

While we’re unable to conclusively ID this specimen, this example does show two things:

1.       Some idea of scale in a photograph is extremely important when using them for identification purposes, and
2.       having a specimen to view is much better than possessing only photographs.

Without the benefit of the scaled picture and the specimen, our initial ideas of a dog’s skull would have been clearly wrong.

If any of you can shed some additional light on the identity of Uwe’s find, don’t be afraid to send us an email or comment. Uwe would love to be able to conclusively add a new species to his property’s list!