Traditional Owner fox monitoring partnership project, along Maroochy Estuary & Mount Coolum National Park 2015 to 2016
Early 2015 saw local Kabi Kabi traditional owners and historically connected Aboriginal people begin work with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) and Sunshine Coast Council in a wide scale project monitoring and mapping of fox dens. This project is sponsored by the Queensland Government’s gambling community benefit fund to help conduct a short term ranger program with Aboriginal people.
Sites of interest for these activities include the Marcoola section of the Mount Coolum National Park, Maroochy River conservation park at Mudjimba and Twin Waters, Muller Park and Cook’s Road at Bli Bli along the Maroochy estuary.
Activities last year included training in fauna tracking and sand pad monitoring to assist with species identification around known fox den areas, setting up of wildlife monitoring cameras and the meticulous preparation of baits and humane trapping equipment. The fox is an introduced predator; a cunning nocturnal specialist devastating local native wildlife.
Other work saw the collection of scats or animal poo; undertaken with careful hygiene practices. Such faeces or scats, consisting of prey species, is manually separated into hair and bones, for the careful analysis by ecologists expert in identifying fauna prey species by such remains.
These projects allow opportunities for government workers or researchers to learn from and exchange technical information with the traditional ecological technology of Aboriginal people, having comprehensive ‘local area knowledge’, spanning back to the days prior to colonisation.
Traditional owner, Kerry Jones and family (and prior generations), have long depended on their ‘local harvest supermarket’, that is, the Maroochy River and North Shore beaches. It is a long time survival strategy and a continuous practice to have their eyes tuned in to the presence, changes and behaviour of local wildlife and habitats.
The coastal floodplain of the Sunshine Coast are not immune to biodiversity loss and local extinctions, and has a considerable number of vulnerable species, including the nocturnal water mouse and the black-breasted button quail (each having a national recovery plan). Also vulnerable are the ground parrot, jabiru, sooty oystercatcher, beach stone curlew, cotton pygmy goose, Lewin’s rail, painted snipe, including species of wallum frogs and bats. Other specialised species within the wallum (heathland areas) include a range of uniquely adapted species such as swamp crayfish, native fish, skinks, native mice and bats. All these native species of course are on the menu for the population of foxes and roaming cats (feral or domestic). The eggs and the nesting sites, along our local dunes, of the endangered green sea and loggerhead mother turtles are also subject to fox predation.
The Aboriginal ranger program around fox monitoring and control finished earlier this year and plans are underway to continue the partnerships with Coolum and North Shore Coast Care, QPWS, Sunshine Coast Council and the wider community by seeking further resources through upcoming funding opportunities.
Support by other sponsors include Unity Water, SEQ Catchments (Healthy Waterways), Saltmarsh for Life, Landcare Australia, MangroveWatch, University of the Sunshine Coast, Norman Wettenhall Foundation, Marcoola Coast Care, Sunshine Coast Environment Council, Petrie Creek Catchment Care Group, Maroochy Waterwatch, Peregian Community Group, Noosa Council, Queensland Government’s indigenous land and sea grants, and everyone’s environment program, having all helped with water mouse monitoring, community awareness projects, mangrove revegetation, water quality testing, rubbish clean ups, and recording of cultural heritage sites.
Written by Kerry Jones, Sean Fleischfresser, Arnold Jones, Rodney Jones, Laurie Jones, Loretta Algar, Torrie Currie, Helen Jones and Genevieve Jones.
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|Preparation of sand pads to record and identify tracks of a variety of passing animal species near known fox dens
|Active fox den being monitored
|Another site of sand track monitoring for passing species
|Kabi Kabi traditional owner project workers – (Left to Right) Kerry Jones, Laurie Jones, Sean Fleischfresser & Jason Jones
|Scats from the fox predator, consisting of the remains of prey species.
|Vulnerable Water mice (Xeromys myoides) along Maroochy Estuary - photo by Nina Kaluza & QPWS
|Les Donald of QPWS demonstrates techniques in fox control to Kerry Jones & son Bowdean Jones