Saving Kangaroo Island’s Dunnarts
The Kangaroo Island Dunnart is a small carnivorous marsupial found only on Kangaroo Island, South Australia. Already listed as critically endangered, the devastating 2019/20 bushfires destroyed much of their habitat putting extreme pressure on this dwindling species.
On the brink of extinction
Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third-largest island (444,000 ha). The island was recently listed by the Commonwealth Government as one of Australia’s ‘Special Places’ as it supports threatened and endemic species of national significance.
Prior to the 2019-20 bushfires, the population of Kangaroo Island dunnarts was thought to be less than 500 and entirely restricted to the western end of the island. Following the bushfires, that destroyed approximately 96% of the Dunnarts’ known habitat, emergency recovery actions were implemented to protect remnant populations and support recovery.
Game changing technology for Kangaroo Island wildlife
Kangaroo Island is inhabited by feral cats at densities ten times higher than on mainland Australia. The impact of feral cats predating on wildlife is magnified in post-fire landscapes, creating an urgent need to implement effective control programs for introduced predators. Live capture trapping is an important component of the program, though while successful, is resource intensive and costly to undertake at scale.
To counter the threat the Kangaroo Island Landscape Board (KILB) launched its deployment of Celium in 2022. Funded by Landcare South Australia, this project used Encounter Solutions’ Celium technology on a large scale for the first time in Australia, as a key part of its feral cat control strategy.
The KILB ran two initial Celium network trials in winter 2022. These involved 180 monitored live capture traps spanning 179 km². In the first trial, 1,324 trap nights were recorded and the trap alert correctly reported 100% of triggered traps and 47 cats were captured. In the second trial, from 2,287 trap nights, 354 triggers were reported, with 33 feral cats captured. There was a 200% reduction in the number of staff and a 70% reduction in the time taken to check traps per day. Vehicle use reduced from three to one and daily distance travelled declined by 43%.
Following the initial successful trials, the network was expanded to cover 776 km², connecting 300 traps. In 15 weeks, the network captured 200 feral cats.
Cost-benefit analysis indicates a 36% decrease in the cost of delivering the program. Furthermore, improved animal welfare outcomes were achieved as a result of triggered traps being checked sooner.
- Improved efficiency – fewer personnel required to manage traps over a given area and reduced time taken to check traps per day
- Reduced vehicle emissions – fewer vehicles needed and reduced daily distance travelled
- Improved welfare – improved animal welfare outcomes achieved as a result of sprung traps being visited sooner
- Landholder involvement and collaboration – a key factor contributing to the success of projects
- Scalability – networks can be scaled according to the terrain and project needs from small through to landscape scale programs
- Versatility – the system can be used by both professionals and communities interested in delivering efficient introduced predator control programs
There has been a groundswell of support for the technology and I am hoping that landholders will get more involved. At the moment many landholders don’t have a lot of time to continually check and set traps, so using this technology, this will become a much more manageable commitment for landholders who want to have an impact, but don’t have a lot of time to spare.
Tim Buck – Deputy Chair of Agriculture Kangaroo Island
More than just Trapping
Celium wireless sensor networks are designed to accommodate a wide variety of monitoring applications across a range of sectors. By integrating numerous sensors and monitoring instruments, Celium can deliver timely and actionable data to many types of projects, from just about anywhere.Discover Celium
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