The track consists of 58 sections and is marked at regular intervals with triangular pointers, most of which have an image of the wagyl, a mythical creature from Aboriginal Dreamtime stories. Each section is approximately one day's walk, except for the northernmost 150 km or so, where the sections consist of half-day walks. At the end of each section is either a town or a purpose-built campsite. Each campsite consists of a three-sided shelter with wooden sleeping platforms, a water tank, a pit toilet, picnic tables and cleared tent sites. In the northern half, most campsites also have a barbecue pit and plate (open fires are banned in the southern section).
The Track is almost all through state forest, national parks and other reserves, with only a few small sections of farmland. The first half of the Track is through the Jarrah forests of the Darling Range. It then moves through flatter tall Karriforests until reaching the coastline near the town of Walpole. The remainder of the Track is through coastal forest and scrub along the south coast, in some sections routed along sandy beaches.
Marine mammals along the south coast such as seals, dolphins and whales
The Bibbulmun Track is managed by the Western Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) and The Bibbulmun Track Foundation – an incorporated not-for-profit community-based organisation established to provide support for the DEC in the management, maintenance and marketing of the track to ensure that it remains a "long distance walk trail of international significance and quality". The foundation sells maps and guide books, offers trip planning advice, offers equipment hire and runs courses on camp cooking and navigation.
Most people choose to walk sections of the Track for one or a few days at a time. Hardy walkers who walk the Track from beginning to end typically do so in 6 to 8 weeks. The most popular time to walk the Track is during the wildflower season of spring ( September – November), going from north to south as the wildflower season starts later in the southern areas. In summer the weather can be very hot and water will be hard to find except in the water tanks at the campsites. Winter can be wet, especially in the southern areas but people walk the Track any time from March to December.
When walking on the Bibbulmun Track Walkers are encouraged to follow the 7 Leave no Trace Principles which are:
Twenty-nine Australian land mammals have become extinct over the last 200 years, and 56 are currently facing extinction. These losses and potential losses represent over a third of the 315 species present at the time of European settlement.
We recently published the first review of all Australian mammals, finding that Australia has the worst rate of mammal extinctions in the world, and the situation isn’t improving thanks to feral predators such as cats.
In response, Environment Minister Greg Hunt has proposed investing in research for a cat-killing disease as a form of biological control. But while biological control will be part of the solution, it is not the silver bullet. The real solution will have to involve a change of heart.
Not a thing of the past
Most Australians know of and regret the extinction of the thylacine — but few recognise that this one extinction is symptomatic of a much more pervasive loss. Twenty-eight other mammals have become extinct since 1788, and we suspect that few would know their names, let alone of their loss.
These species are or were not obscure marginalia or predestined for oblivion. Instead many were common and played important and irreplaceable roles in our country’s ecology. These species were part of the fabric of this land. The Australian mammal fauna is the most distinctive in the world: 86% of our 315 land mammal species are found nowhere else.
Since the 1840s we’ve lost mammals at the rate of one species per decade. On current trends, there will be many more extinctions of Australian mammals in the next one or two generations: we found 56 land mammal species (more than 20% of our land mammals) are now threatened with extinction.
Out to sea the situation is a little less bleak, but more opaque. Of 58 species reported from Australian waters, six are threatened but 35 are considered Data Deficient – they may or may not be in trouble, but we don’t have enough information to be sure.
Feral cats the greatest threat
It may sound all doom and gloom — and in many respects it is — but it’s important to note that conservation can work. Both Gilbert’s potoroo and the Bridled nailtail wallaby have been brought back from the brink through dedicated effort.
So how do we go about saving the rest of Australia’s threatened mammals?
Some consider this an economic question — with X amount of dollars, we can save X number of species, but which ones? This is the argument of medical triage, a sharp prioritisation that directs funds only at the most savable and valuable species.
But this is a defeatist mentality. To advocate for species’ extinctions by choice or through disinclination is unconscionable. Triage was born on the battlefields of Napoleonic Europe, where life and death choices had to be made in minutes. It is an inappropriate analogy for biodiversity conservation.
A better analogy is with the education system. Our society accepts the obligation that all children should be schooled, and recognises the benefit to society from that premise. So too with conservation: we should recognise the obligation to attempt to safeguard all species. In a nation as affluent as ours, this can and should be a realistic objective.
Cats are the greatest threat to Australia’s mammals. Like many other threats, they are now a pervasive and deeply-entrenched problem, and we recognise that it will not be solved simply or quickly.
There are some measure we can implement immediately: translocating threatened species, establishing a network of cat-proof enclosures, and better management of dingoes and wild dogs (which can help control cat populations).
But we also need to look at long-term solutions. This has formidable challenges. Current trials in cat-baiting are promising, but we don’t yet know if they will work on a large scale. Biological control (such as a disease) may take decades to develop, and has to overcome concerns from cat owners, and risks to other Australian wildlife and cat species overseas.
Even so, controlling cats is likely to do more for the conservation of Australia’s biodiversity than any other single action.
Learning to care for our country
But we have concluded that we will not solve the mammal extinction crisis simply by repeating the same actions over and over. The problem is far more fundamental.
Conservation is not just an environmental problem; it also charts a moral landscape. How does our society fit into this land? What do we consider is important? Is it reasonable that we gift our descendants only a faint shadow of our country’s extraordinary nature?
We have worked extensively in remote Australia. We have shown old Aboriginal men and women stuffed museum specimens of now-vanished mammals, and been struck to our core by their responses: singing the song of that animal, stroking it, telling its story, crying at its loss. Here is an affinity to nature, a deep connection to our land, an ache of responsibility, that we settler Australians have not yet felt or learned. To become part of this country, to care for it properly, we need to grow some of that sense of belonging and affinity. Otherwise, extinctions will continue to be viewed as inconsequential.
Our review of the fate of Australian mammals reflects uncomfortably on our society. Without understanding of our country, without linkages to, and affinity to, its nature, and without a corresponding commitment to its well-being, our society will fit poorly in this land and these seas, and we will continue to erode the most remarkable fauna in the world.
We must accept that biodiversity conservation is not only an obligation of government, but a shared societal responsibility.
This article was co-written by Dr Andrew Burbidge, who is a co-author of the action plan. He is a Research Fellow with the WA Department of Parks and Wildlife.
As representatives of Australia’s peak professional ecological body, the Ecological Society of Australia (ESA), we are deeply concerned that the strategy is not fit for its purpose of protecting Australia’s biodiversity.
A bolder, science-based vision
As part of ESA’s formal submission to the public consultation, we provide an alternative, evidence-based vision. This includes nine key recommendations for nature conservation in Australia.
1. Set measurable targets. Any project needs a set of quantifiable targets, otherwise we won’t know whether it has been successful or not. Some suggestions:
establish a comprehensive national network of ecosystem monitoring sites by 2025
reverse the declines of all species that are threatened by human-caused factors by 2025.
2. Commit to preventing human-caused species extinctions. The strategy should state explicitly that human-driven species extinctions are not acceptable, and establish and maintain clear paths of accountability.
3. Adequately fund the strategy’s implementation. Australia should show international leadership in conservation by investing at the upper end of OECD and G20 averages. At present Australia allocates less than 0.8% of GDP to conservation. We suggest 2% as an urgent minimum investment, with scope to expand funding to ensure that targets can be met.
4. Focus on the intrinsic value of biodiversity. The draft strategy is supposed to represent “Australia’s biodiversity conservation strategy and action inventory”, but it does not define biodiversity, choosing instead to focus on the vague notion of “nature”. We recommend the document return its focus to biodiversity, defined in the Convention on Biodiversity as “the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are a part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems”.
requiring threat-abatement plans to efficiently manage major threats to many species, such as impacts of feral predators and herbivores, invasive plants and new diseases
specifically protecting high-value ecosystems, including those of economic value such as the Great Barrier Reef, and those that are critical for species survival, and rare ecosystems.
6. Commit to establishing a comprehensive system of protected areas, including marine parks. Despite longstanding commitments to developing a fully representative network of protected areas in Australia, many bioregions remain poorly represented in the National Reserve System and the national marine protected area system.
9. Recognise key issues that affect Australian biodiversity conservation. Any successful strategy should specifically address new and emerging issues that can harm our environment, such as Australia’s increasing use of natural resources, environmental water flows in rivers, and overfishing.
We cannot ignore human population growth, increasing per capita consumption and subsequent resource demand as drivers of threats to healthy and resilient ecosystems.
Our unique plants, animals and other organisms shape our national identity. They have wide-ranging benefits to our society, as well as being inherently valuable in their own right. They need a much stronger commitment to their ongoing protection.
Built in 1838 in Victoria, Bermuda the vessel was constructed from wood and copper sheathed. It had a square stern, single deck, no galleries and a billet head. The vessel was acquired by R. Brown in 1847 and was registered in London. It was then acquired in 1848 by William Younghusband and Company of Adelaide and registered there.
The vessel was in command of James C. Coke and was transporting cargo from Adelaide to Shanghai via Albany and Singapore. The brig left Adelaide 5 June 1848 loaded mostly with flour and was en route to Albany to load a shipment of sandalwood.
The vessel was anchored at Cheyne Bay near Cape Riche when it was blown ashore by a heavy gale. The Champion and Arpenteur were dispatched from King George Sound to assist. The Champion managed to pull the Wave offshore but Wave was leaking badly and foundered then sunk.
Champion then salvaged some of the cargo and then transported the crew, minus the Captain, back to Albany. Captain Coke sailed to Adelaide aboard the HMS Acheron, commanded by Captain John Lort Stokes.
The owners of the Arpenteur acquired the wreck of the Wave and that cargo not already salvaged for £330. The Arpenteur sailed for Fremantle with 27 tons of flour, 1,000 bushels of wheat, the rigging and sails that the crew had salvaged from the Wave
Albany Port was the first port in Western Australia and was settled in 1826. Albany was Western Australia's only deep-water port for 70 years until the Fremantle Inner Harbour was opened in 1897
The first settlers arrived in Albany in December 1826 when Major Edmund Lockyer arrived at the harbour aboard the brig Amity The port started from humble beginnings when a finger jetty was built between 1862 and 1864 in Princess Royal Harbour. The construction was extended in 1874 and fitted with a T-shaped head and gas lighting.
Dredging and land reclamation around the port area commenced in 1893, with a further five dredging operations taking place between 1901 and 1979. Albany was an important arrival point for migrants and settlers in Western Australia with over 40,000 people arriving between 1839-1925.
The Point King Lighthouse, built in 1898, was the first navigational light for the Port of Albany and the second lighthouse to be built on the West Australian coastline.
The Great White Fleet visited Albany on 11 September 1908 and stayed for one week to take coal aboard as part of the fleet's circumnavigation of the world. The fleet arrived from Melbourne and the next port of call was Manila.
In 2004 2,685,000 metric tonnes of cargo passed through the port and in 2005 2,990,000 metric tonnes of cargo was achieved. During this time woodchip exports increased by 105%.
A huge drug seizure was recorded in the port area in 2004 when the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Customs Service recovered 100 kilograms (220 lb) of powder cocaine, worth over $45 million, was recovered from a local beach after being buried in the dunes. The drugs were imported on a bulk grain carrier Marcos Dias having come from South America via South East Asia, three men were arrested as a result
In 2005 handler and exporter CBH, proceeded with a $130 million upgrade of their grain handling and loading facilities at the port.
The Albany Port Authority won the national Lloyd's Port of the Year award in 2006 for its development of new technology used to restore degrade load-bearing concrete piles without disrupting cargo handling activities
The port was visited by the Queen Elizabeth II passenger liner in February 2008 as part of its final world trip. Albany was the only regional port that was visited during the Australian leg of the voyage.
The largest vessel ever handled by the port was the Bulk carrier 71,749 dwtMaritime Grace which was partly loaded at the port.
The Albany Port Authority recorded a record profit of A$ 7.1 million in 2014 after exporting a record 1.4 million tonnes of woodchips. The Albany Port Authority, which had run the port since 1950 was closed down in 2014 when it was merged with the Bunbury and Esperance Port Authorities creating the Southern Port Authority.
During dredging in 2000 to expand the harbour, a large amount of unexploded munitions was found at the bottom of the harbour so that Worksafe demanded that dredging cease until the harbour was made safe again. It was consequently found that the ordnance had been spilt during loading of excess munitions to be disposed of at sea in 1947 and 1948 by the Australian Army and Navy The Albany Port Authority took the Commonwealth government to court to pay for the clean-up of the munitions. The Commonwealth lost the case and were ordered to pay $5.25 million for past and future clean-up costs and an additional $1 million for legal costs. Some of the ammunition that has been found included a 250-pound aerial bomb, 18 pound artillery shells and rifle ammunitions.
Being a “locavore” means choosing food that is grown locally, and is one way that you can help ensure there is more food to go around.
To feed the predicted nine billion people in the world in 2050, the world will need to produce 70-100% more food. This unprecedented increase in food production will require substantial changes in soil management, land cultivation, and crop production.
The primary reason why eating local is good for the planet is the reduction in energy resources required for transport and storage. Generally, the further a food has travelled from “paddock to plate”, the greater its impact on the environment. This is because of fuel used in transport and increased greenhouse gas emissions used for refrigerated storage.
The global food system lets us eat food from all over the world, all year round. But food miles impact adversely on the nutritional quality of fresh foods, and on the environment.
Yet while eating foods grown close to where we live makes planetary sense, farmers markets and foods grown more sustainably (organically) often carry a price premium, and seem to be targeted to a trendy and wealthy demographic.
The lack of a definition of “eating locally” also raises questions of how to incorporate organic and fair trade produce within the larger sustainability movement, and how to support developing nations.
Global supply chains place great demands on ecosystems and natural resources, and large distances between where food is produced and consumed is often seen as evidence of an unsustainable food system. However, this is not always as straightforward as it appears.
10 tips for eating local
1: Become familiar with foods that are grown or produced locally and what time of the year they are available. Seasonal food guides are available from some fruit markets and online such as one developed for south-east Queensland.
2: Look for local farmers markets, community gardens, food co-operatives and community supported agriculture schemes. Green Connect is one example of a community-supported agriculture scheme operating in the Illawarra region of New South Wales. In some states such as Tasmania, a thriving food tourism culture may encourage consumers to eat locally but this concept has not been replicated in other parts of the country.
3: Grow your own fruit and vegetables and keep chickens in your own backyard, or get involved in your local community garden, and trade produce with neighbours.
4: Read the labels of packaged foods. The new “Made in Australia” labelling on foods makes it easier to determine where the food (and its individual components) has been grown, processed and packaged.
5: Choose less processed foods. Generally, the more processed a food is, the more energy and water it requires in the production process. Replace junk food with fresh fruit, nuts and vegetables.
7: Cook meals using fresh ingredients rather than purchasing ready-made meals.
8: Ask your food retailers and manufacturers about the origin of the food you are buying. Locate fruit and vegetable retailers, who sell food produced locally.
9: Limit your intake of alcohol and purchase locally-grown alcohol with the lowest food miles possible. If you enjoy a particular beer or wine, contact the manufacturer to learn about their environmental policies and to advocate for more environmentally friendly production methods.
10: The Fair Food Forager app allows you to search for food outlets that adhere to fair and sustainable practices.
Creating consumer demand for more locally and sustainably produced food is being led not only by food champion Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, but also by our very own Australian Youth Food Movement, whose organisers are passionate about improving the food supply for future generations.
Wildlife would disappear most dramatically in the remaining forests and grasslands of Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. The greatest species loss would occur in the Peruvian Amazon basin where as many as 317 species could vanish as a result of agricultural development.
As a doctoral researcher at Humboldt University Berlin, I studied human food consumption, land use and how they affect wildlife. Our research was published July 17 in Nature Ecology and Evolution.
Our research shows that Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly at risk of harmful agricultural development. This region is at the crossroads of economic, demographic and agricultural growth, and minimizing potential effects of agricultural change there is an urgent challenge.
This becomes more worrying when considering the percentage of land that is currently at risk (i.e. natural but arable) and not protected against future development. Four-fifths of the regions we identify at risk of farmland expansion in Sub-Saharan Africa are unprotected. This is less than half of the 43 per cent protected in Latin America.
Some may mistakenly believe that protecting land from farming is about preserving wildlife habitat while local people go hungry. But it’s not a binary choice. Instead, the goal is to ensure an ample supply of nutritious food while at the same time conserving the most biodiverse and unique places on Earth. This is possible if we try. Knowing in advance what areas are most at risk allows us to better plan for a more sustainable future.
Aside from protecting land, food can be grown at little to no cost to biodiversity. For example, small-holder agro-ecological farming, which uses diverse cropping techniques along with fewer chemical fertilizers and pesticides, can produce large quantities of nutritious food at little to no cost to wildlife.
We need to increase awareness of agro-ecological farming methods and secure local people’s land-holder rights — a crucial step to preventing large foreign corporations from buying up land for monoculture farming.
Communities adopting agro-ecological techniques is a win-win solution that goes a long way towards sustainably feeding the world without pushing wildlife towards extinction.
What can policy makers do?
Current large-scale conservation schemes are based on factors that include past habitat loss and the threatened status of species, but none include the potential for future land-use change. We need to do a better job of predicting future pressures on wildlife habitat, especially because timely conservation action is cheaper and more effective than trying to fix the damage caused by farming. Our research takes a step in this direction.
We also show which countries could do with more support for conservation initiatives to protect land and find ways to sustainably grow food. Suriname, Guyana and the Republic of the Congo are just a few examples, as well as a number of countries in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa that are at the centre of high agricultural growth, low conservation investment and very high numbers of species that could be lost due to agricultural development.
Since most agricultural demand comes from richer nations, those countries should provide education and support for sustainable farming methods and locally led conservation efforts.
What can you do?
All of this raises the question: How can we eat well without harming wildlife? One simple step we can all take right now that would have a far greater impact than any other (aside from having fewer children): Cut out the grain-fed beef.
Imagine throwing away 25 plates of perfectly good food to get one plate of beef — the idea is absurd and would likely be news if done en masse. But that is precisely what we are all unknowingly doing by eating resource-intensive meat. Articles on food waste seem half-baked when keeping in mind the bizarre grain-to-meat ratio of many of our most popular meats.
There are ways in which farmers can raise livestock with little to no environmental damage, particularly when land is not overgrazed and trees remain on the landscape. Indeed, in some remote areas grazing cattle are a crucial source of food and nourishment. Unfortunately, the industrialized feedlot model that relies heavily on grain makes up the overwhelming majority of the meat in your supermarket. That is the kind of farming that our research investigates.
Livestock quietly causes 10 times more deforestation than the palm oil industry but seems to get about 10 times less media attention. While it’s certainly true that avoiding unsustainable palm oil is a good idea, avoiding eating animals that were raised on grain is an even more effective conservation tactic.
Feeding the world without damaging nature is one of the greatest challenges humanity faces. But with a little foresight, better land governance and some simple meal changes, many of the solutions are at arm’s length.
For wildlife’s sake, go forth and enjoy your veggie burgers.
As a wildlife veterinarian, I often get asked about bats. I like bats, and I am always eager to talk about how interesting they are. Unfortunately the question is often not about biology but instead “what should I do about the ones in my roof?”.
With some unique talents and remarkable sex lives, bats are actually one of the most interesting, diverse and misunderstood groups of animals. Contrary to popular belief, they are beautiful creatures. Not necessarily in the cuddly, human-like sense – although some fruit bats with doey brown eyes and button noses could be considered so – but they are beautifully designed.
Soon afterwards, fossils record another game-changing adaptation in the evolution of most bats, and that is the ability to accurately locate prey using sound (what we call echolocation). These two adaptations early in their history gave bats an evolutionary edge compared to some other mammals, and allowed them to diversify into almost all habitats, on every continent except Antarctica.
There are now more than 1,300 different species, divided among 26 different families (compared to fewer than 500 primate species). Indonesia alone has 219 different bat species.
It is not just a quantity though – the variety is astonishing. The thumb-sized bumblebee bat of Thailand is the smallest species, weighing just two grammes. And like other insectivorous bats, it can eat its own body weight in insects every night. At the other end of the scale, some large flying foxes have wingspans of well over a metre and, having lost the ability to echolocate, eat fruit and nectar.
Everyone knows that some bats feed on blood, but despite the “vampire” myth, only three species actually feed on blood. And these haematophagous bats are only found in parts of South America. They also definitely don’t get tangled in your hair. Bats are far too good at flying.
If thus far I haven’t persuaded you to like bats, you must admit that they are useful. Bats defecate while regularly flying very long distances (up to 350km in one night), making them extremely effective at dispersing seeds. Add to that the fact that some fruit bats live in colonies up to 1m strong, and you can start to imagine their impact. So much so, they have been proven key in reforestation.
Another unappreciated and major role is as pest controllers. The sheer volume of insects that some bats species can eat makes them very effective at suppressing pest insects. Bats reduce the nuisance and disease threat of mosquitoes, and it has been estimated they save the US economy at least $3.7 billion every year through increased crop productivity and reduction of pesticide usage.
Despite their ancient design, they show some remarkable talents. One of these is shared only by several select animals. Bats are vocal learners – able to learn and then imitate sounds even in adulthood. This is likely important for the development of the complex social organisation seen in many bat species. Most surprising of all is the recent revelation that they are also members of an even more exclusive and less salubrious club: animals known to partake in fellatio during copulation.
Bats have had some bad press recently due to their association with infectious diseases, from rabies to Ebola. And they appear able to tolerate some viruses fatal to other species. If anything, that illustrates again why they should be respected, especially as various bat species are also endangered and therefore protected by law in many regions.
So my response to those interested in what to do about the bats in their roof? Leave them alone.
Climate change is one of the greatest threats the world’s animals and plants are facing. In fact the world is facing an extinction crisis, which should concern all of us. The major problem with climate change is not so much that climate is changing, but that it is changing faster than species can move or adapt.
One of the solutions is to move species to places with a more suitable climate. But the idea of introducing species to areas where they have never occurred before is controversial, because species introduced to somewhere they’ve never lived could have devastating consequences for the species already there. Just think of foxes, lantana, cane toads and other invasive species in Australia.
So how do we weigh up the costs and benefits? In a new study published today in journal PLOS ONE, we developed a way of finding the answer.
Australia’s species at risk
Moving species threatened by climate change isn’t a new idea. In fact we’ve already moved some, while others are being considered.
One of them is the critically endangered Western Swamp Tortoise from Perth in Western Australia - Australia’s rarest reptile. It currently faces extinction thanks to declining seasonal rainfall, which is drying up the swamps the tortoise calls home. To stop the tortoise becoming extinct, scientists have considered potential new sites far to the south of its home range.
Another species facing climate extinction is the Mountain Pygmy-possum, a tiny mammal that currently resides on three snowy mountain tops in Victoria and New South Wales. As temperatures warm the possum is running out of room to move upwards. Snow cover, and the length of time snow stays on the ground, is decreasing rapidly.
This means the possums come out of winter hibernation earlier, and can’t find enough food. The mountains have also seen an influx of feral predators, which previously found the area inaccessible thanks to snow cover.
Weighing up the costs
It’s far from clear cut which species might benefit from this drastic action, and for which it would be a costly and risky mistake. How should wildlife managers approach the decision of whether to move animals into new areas, or leave them in places that may become uninhabitable for them?
In our study we outlined a framework that can quantify whether the benefit of moving a species outweighs the ecological cost.
The benefit of moving a species is based on the likelihood it will go extinct in its original habitat as the local climate becomes hostile, the likelihood that a breeding population can be established at a new site, and the value or importance of the species.
The ecological cost depends on the potential for the species to adversely affect the ecosystem at the new site. Species are considered candidates for re-location only if the benefit of doing so is greater than the ecological cost.
This decision involves both scientific predictions (what’s the likelihood the species will go extinct in its current range?) and subjective judgements (how do we value the conservation of this species compared to species already living at the introduction site?). Our framework separates these questions out.
We test drove our new framework using the hypothetical case of the New Zealand tuatara which is being considered for relocation from its home on a number of small offshore islands in the north of NZ to the South Island, outside of its current range. The tuatara is the country’s largest reptile and the only surviving representative of an ancient lineage.
The tuatara faces a peculiar threat from climate change. Like many reptiles, the sex of a tuatara is determined by incubation temperature, with higher temperatures giving rise to males and lower temperatures to females. The population from North Brother Island in New Zealand’s Cook Strait is already showing signs of too many males. This is expected to worsen as temperatures increase, putting the population at risk of extinction.
We considered an introduction from the North Brother Island population to a hypothetical mainland sanctuary on New Zealand’s South Island. We used a previously published population model to predict the effect of climate change on the North Brother Island population, and estimated that the current population of 550 tuatara has a 0.43 chance of persisting in 150 years time. If we remove animals to introduce them elsewhere, this slightly decreases the probability to 0.42.
We found that the chance of successfully establishing a new population was good, and that the chance that the new population will impact negatively on the ecosystem was low.
Tuatara show why it’s essential to have a rigorous framework like this to take the gut instinct and guesswork out of the decision, so we can make smarter choices for conserving species under climate change.
The Mountain Pygmy-possum (Burramys parvus) is one of five living species of pygmy-possum, all of which are classified within a single family. It is the largest of the pygmy-possums, and can be easily distinguished from other members of the family by its distinctive “buzz saw” premolar teeth.
Unlike most other possums, it is mainly ground-dwelling, inhabiting alpine and subalpine boulderfields and rocky scree in south-eastern Australia. Males and females spend most of the year separately. Females and their young occupy the best quality habitat.
The Mountain Pygmy-possum is also the only Australian marsupial that hibernates for long periods during the winter. Mating begins in early spring when the possums emerge from their winter sleep.
Up to four young are born. The young grow quickly and are weaned 9-10 weeks after conception. They leave the nest a month later. Most pygmy-possums live for only 1-3 years, however males can live to five years, and females to 12.
The Mountain Pygmy-possum is remarkable in that it was first described from a Pleistocene fossil by Robert Broom in 1896. At the time it was thought to be extinct.
In 1966 a living specimen was discovered in a Ski Club Lodge on Mount Hotham in Victoria. With evidence of only one living animal in existence, the Guinness Book of Records of 1967 recorded the Mountain Pygmy-possum as the rarest animal on Earth.
Surveys later found a number of colonies across the New South Wales and Victorian Alps ranging in elevation from 1200m-2228m above sea level.
Today there are only three known populations: Mount Higginbotham and Mount Buller in Victoria, and Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales. The total population size is estimated to be less than 2600 adults, restricted to a total range less than 10 square kilometres. It is the only mammal that is entirely restricted to the alpine and subalpine regions of south-eastern Australia.
Only small patches of suitable pygmy-possum habitat remain. Degradation, fragmentation and loss of these remaining refuges are among the immediate threat to the continuing viability of the species. Up to a third of the best breeding habitat has been lost at Mount Buller alone, due to ski resort developments.
How this remaining habitat is connected is essential. Males need to be able to migrate safely to females during the breeding season. Connectivity also maintains the large-scale structure of the population and genetic diversity. However, road and ski slopes have fragmented the landscape.
Climate change poses the greatest ongoing threat to the Mountain Pygmy-possum.
Increases in temperature will cause significant changes in alpine areas. Specifically higher temperatures will reduce snow depth and the time snow remains on the ground. These processes have a cascade of ecological consequences
Bogong moths are a vital food source for Mountain Pygmy-possums when they awake from hibernation. These moths migrate to the mountains every summer to escape lowland heat. If snow melts early, possums awake from hibernation before the moths arrive in the mountains. The possums then have to compete with other small mammals - such as antechinus and rodents - living in the same habitat. They are forced to leave the boulderfields for other sources of food, exposing them to cats and foxes.
Warming also gives invasive predators a chance to move into areas previously inaccessible. Once the extreme cold kept them out.
A national recovery plan was drafted in 2010 to ensure Mountain Pygmy-possums persist across their range and maintain their potential to evolve in the wild.
Healesville Sanctuary has successfully launched a captive breeding program for the Mountain Pygmy-possum in Victoria. This facility maximises genetic diversity within the populations by carefully selecting mating pairs.
A second captive breeding facility is to be established in Lithgow for the New South Wales population as part of the Burramys Project. The captive population is an insurance policy against natural disaster.
The project aims to gain a greater understanding of how Mountain Pygmy-possums will adapt to climate change by looking to the fossil record. The pygymy-possum family has been found in fossils dating to 24 million years ago.
Although the Mountain Pygmy-possum is highly vulnerable to extinction, it can be saved.
After ten years of severe drought and a drastic decline in possum numbers, rain finally arrived in 2010. Over the last three years we have seen a rise in Mountain Pygmy-possums across New South Wales and Victoria. This growth is attributed to a number of factors including more food and water, genetic diversity through translocations, and pest management.
Recently a critically important discovery was made of a new population of Mountain Pygmy-possums in Kosciuszko National Park. These possums live below the tree line, in an area that receives little snow fall. They may play a key role in understanding how this species will adapt to future challenges.
The Conversation is running a series on Australian endangered species. See it here.
Torndirrup National Park has many impressive rock formations on the coast. These include the Gap, Natural Bridge and the Blowholes all shaped from the local granite. The park is along the coast on the west side of King George Sound and consists of a range of cliffs, gullies, blowholes, beaches and promontories.
The area is composed of three major rock types, one of these being gneiss. The oldest of these was formed 1300-1600 million years ago. This rock type can be seen along the cliff walls of the Gap. The granites were formed later as the Australian Plate collided with the Antarctic Plate 1160 million years ago as molten rock rose to the surface. These granites are visible in the tors atop Stony Hill.
The park was gazetted in 1918, one of the first in Western Australia. It was later named in 1969 taking the name of the Indigenous Australian clan that lived in the area. The first ranger was appointed in 1973. The park is the most often visited park in Western Australia, with approximately 250,000 visitors per annum.
A large bushfire burnt through 700 hectares (1,730 acres) of bushland in the area in 2010 and caused the closure of Frenchman Bay Road isolating tourists and residents of the area. In 2015 another fire burnt out 616 hectares (1,522 acres) of bushland between Stony Hill and the Blowholes including destroying important populations of the critically endangered Banksia verticillata]
Flora and fauna
By Cygnis insignis (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
View along walking track out to Torndirrup Peninsula and Bald Head
Access to the park is via Frenchman Bay Road, which is sealed and well sign-posted. Access to most features is via sealed roads. No other facilities exist within the park but barbecues, tables, shops and toilets can be found nearby at Frenchman Bay.
The park has numerous walks, mostly of a distance of less than 1,500 metres (4,921 ft), including the Jimmy Newhills walk and the Stony Hill Heritage Trail walk. The longest trail is the 10 km (6.2 mi) Bald Head Walk along Flinders peninsula finishing at Bald Head at the eastern edge of the park.
By Hughesdarren (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
A A$6.1 million upgrade of facilities at the Gap and the Natural Bridge opened in 2016. The redevelopment included two universally accessible lookout structures, connecting paths, a picnic area, interpretive signage and a car park. A cantilevered grated see-through platform at the Gap rises almost 40 metres (131 ft) above the Southern ocean (also known as Antarctic Ocean) and extends 10 m (33 ft) out from the cliff face, of which 4 m (13 ft) is directly above the ocean.
Women who travel - especially solo women travellers - often enjoy some particular benefits. However, they also encounter some particular challenges and risks. This article contains some general tips concerning safety, health and travel practicalities that are of special interest to women. Tips for women at individual destinations (such as, say, appropriate dress when visiting a temple, especially safety issues) are addressed in those articles.
WARNING: The mosquito-borne Zika virus can cause severe damage to a child in the womb. There are defenses, such as long sleeves and mosquito repellents, but there is no vaccine and no cure. Although the WHO has indicated that the epidemic has ended, the risk is severe enough that the US government still advises pregnant women not to travel to countries with active transmission.
Every year, millions of women set out to travel the world, with a companion or alone. While the great majority experiences little or no serious threats, and while the choice of destination can make a huge difference, the risk of unwanted attention and sexual assault is always significantly higher for women travellers than it is for men. Also, women are often considered easier targets for bag snatching, robberies and other crimes. A bit of extra preparation, tips and awareness can go a long way in making you feel at ease and staying safe while travelling.
Being scared takes all the fun out of travelling, and it doesn't help in making good decisions either. Don't be embarrassed to take some extra precautions, even when there's probably no reason to, if they make you feel safer. While you shouldn't be scared, it's good to always be aware of your surroundings and to act accordingly.
Trust your instincts and put safety first when your gut tells you something is wrong. When approached by strangers and you somehow feel threatened, don't worry about being rude. Also, don't be afraid to be loud or make a fuss when you are somehow targeted. Harassing solo females is social taboo in most countries and drawing attention from the people around you can save you from a range of unpleasant situations.
Count on some extra budget for safer transportation. Reading up on your next destination and knowing what the common scams are is a good idea for men and women alike. Especially as a solo female traveller, however, grabbing a taxi instead of wandering through a bad neighbourhood or a dark alley is sometimes the best choice. When planning your trip, make sure budget will not keep you from choosing the safer option if you want it. On a long overnight train, it's sometimes possible to ask to share a compartment with other females or a family. If at all possible, avoid arriving at new places at night. In a sleeper train with multiple beds in a compartment, opt for the upper berth. Keep in mind that smaller more expensive compartments may give more privacy, but they're not always safer, as there's no crowd around to keep bad things from happening.
Dress appropriately and mind your body language. It should be self-evident, but often enough women travellers underestimate the impact proper dress can have. In many countries, it's a sign of respect which will make it easier to connect with local women and make it more likely for strangers to help when you need it. At the same time, being dressed immodestly makes you a more likely target of unwanted attention and harassment. In some places a certain type of dress is even mandated by law or strongly enforced local custom. Be aware that physical contact or even simple gestures that may be perfectly normal at home can be interpreted as something quite different in some conservative countries. Err on the side of caution and keep your distance with strange men.
Hostels are good places to meet fellow travellers
Man or woman, solo, couple or group; making new friends en route is always fun. As a woman, especially when travelling solo, investing a bit of effort into finding like-minded people may not only make for a memorable exchange of stories, but can make exploring feel a bit safer. Especially in places you know or feel to be risky, mingle. Looking for fellow (solo) travellers? Head for a hostel rather than a large, anonymous hotel. Take a local cooking or language course. Join an organized day tour to a nearby attraction. Don't be shy about starting a conversation with other (solo) travellers; one of you has to be the one to start it.
Of course, remain vigilant and don't give out your hotel name or room number to strangers you just met on the streets. Be especially wary of locals who single you out asking for help or wasting no time to invite you to parties or their home. Keep in mind that smart thugs know not to dress the part, and petty crimes are often enough carried out by children, mothers and other people you wouldn't suspect.
For the most part, precautions to stay healthy apply to men and women alike, but there are a few health issues women travellers should be particularly aware of.
Unfortunately, urinary tract infections (also known as bladder infections or cystitis) are a common issue among women. A simple infection is easy enough to treat, but can develop into a harder to treat infection of the kidneys (known as pyelonephritis). Keep in mind that cystitis can be made worse by dehydration, so make sure to keep up your fluid intake when you experience any symptoms. Common symptoms include a strong urge to urinate without much urine being produced, a burning sensation when urinating and strong-smelling or cloudy urine. Healthy women who catch symptoms early may be able to manage the infection by drinking a lot, but if symptoms don't start to diminish in 24 hours, it's wise to seek medical attention. If you are prone to bladder infections, and know how to recognize it, discuss with your doctor if it's wise to take a simple course of antibiotics with you.
While it's usually best and easiest to follow your usual contraceptive measures, you might find it hard to obtain the contraception of your choice (or in some countries, any contraception at all!) en route. In conservative parts of the world, women or even unmarried couples may encounter resistance when trying to get doctor's prescriptions and supplies, while in other places it might just not be available. Inform yourself beforehand and consider taking adequate supplies from home if possible. With hormonal contraceptives, keep storage instructions in mind when travelling to regions where it gets hot. Take them with you in the original packaging with a copy of your prescription. Women who need to visit a doctor regularly for a dose, such as women who receive contraceptive hormone injections, might consider switching contraceptive methods for a long trip, or might want to make arrangements before leaving home.
Oral contraceptives may lose their effectiveness if you become ill and vomit or have diarrhea. Time zone changes may also make it difficult to take each dose 24 hours after the last dose. You need to use a backup contraceptive measure, such as condoms, for 7 days after any interruption in effectiveness, which means either a late or missed pill or illness that might have affected the absorption. Check the information packet that comes with your pills for details of exactly what affects the absorption, and bring condoms from home for areas where they may be hard to find or may lack in quality. Hormonal contraceptives that are delivered at a constant dose, such as by injection, by implant or by vaginal ring, are not affected by illness or time zone changes.
If you're travelling for a long time, contraceptive injections (effective for about 3 months), hormone releasing implants (effective for about 3 to 5 years) or intrauterine devices (effective for about 5 to 10 years) are worth considering. Keep in mind that all of these require a medical professional to apply them.
NOTE: If you want to change your contraceptive for your trip, do so well in advance — not only because you'll need to make the relevant doctor's appointments, but also because switching contraceptives can cause some temporary irregularities in effectiveness and in your menstruation.
There are a number of health issues that women who are planning to travel while pregnant should consider, and discuss with their doctor or health provider as needed:
Risk of pregnancy complications, miscarriage or premature birth varies between pregnancies, and pregnant women might want to consider their own risk when planning travel where they will be away from their own medical practitioners, or away from medical facilities of the kind they are used to. Statistically, the safest weeks to travel are between the 18th and 24th week.
Many vaccines (specifically, live ones) are not considered safe for pregnant women (or often even women who are planning a pregnancy) to receive due to a risk to the health of the fetus. You might not be able to travel to destinations which require vaccinations you haven't had before getting pregnant. A waiver for the yellow fever vaccine can sometimes be obtained, depending on the prevalence of yellow fever at your destination. Some inactivated vaccines are considered safe, including varieties of the influenza vaccine and Hepatitis B. Even if you don't normally get vaccinated for influenza, some doctors may advise you to take this precaution as the disease can be more severe in pregnant women. In any case, consult a medical expert at least 6 weeks before travel.
The mosquito-borne Zika virus can cause severe damage to a child in the womb. There are defences, such as long sleeves and mosquito repellents, but there is no vaccine and no cure. Although the WHO has indicated that the epidemic has ended, the risk is severe enough that the US government still advises pregnant women not to travel to countries with active transmission.
Malaria, in addition to its danger to the woman, can also cause miscarriage or premature birth. Not all anti-malarial drugs are safe to take during pregnancy.
Air travel is not recommended for pregnant women beyond 36 weeks (earlier for complicated pregnancies or multiples), and most airlines impose restrictions on pregnant women close to term. You may need to present a letter to the airline from your doctor stating that you are less than 36 weeks pregnant and that it is safe for you to fly. Inquire with your airline. Also keep in mind that pregnant women have an increased risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or blood clots. If travelling by air, get up and walk around to stretch regularly. Make sure to fasten the seat belt below your belly.
Some travel activities are not safe for pregnant women, particularly alpine and water skiing and scuba diving. Unaccustomed strenuous activity, hottubbing or saunaing might also cause complications. Check with your health provider, but in general the guideline is to maintain about the same level of activity that you did before pregnancy.
Travel at high altitudes is not advised.
Check that pregnancy related illness, childbirth itself and medical care for a baby born while travelling are covered by your travel insurance if you're outside the reach of your normal healthcare arrangements. Pregnancy is usually considered to be a pre-existing medical condition that you must disclose to your insurer, and which will have limited coverage, particularly after the 30th week. Pregnancies that you don't know about at the time of application might not be covered. Read your travel insurance documents carefully.
No policies cover expenses associated with a full term birth. Some may cover a very premature birth but then may not cover the baby's healthcare costs (which would likely be considerable).
Most travel insurance policies do not cover multiple pregnancies (twins, triplets etc) or any pregnancy that is the result of medically assisted conception (fertility drugs, IVF etc) even with an additional premium. If you do get cover for a higher risk pregnancy it will not extend as far into the pregnancy as cover for a naturally conceived or singleton pregnancy; it will probably only extend to 15 or 20 weeks. It is close to impossible to get cover for any pregnancy that has already had complications.
Remember that you can't just "fail to mention" pregnancy (or any other information) to an insurer: failing to disclose relevant information invalidates the policy.
Pack enough supplies of your usual menstruation product (tampons or pads), particularly if you are going to a less developed country where they might not be available easily. Tampons are especially hard to come by in some places due to "moral" objections. Modern pharmacies in large cities are often your best bet. If you still have trouble finding what you need, discretely asking female pharmacy staff will usually help. If you use any pain killers for cramps, take them along after checking their legality at the destination. If crossing international borders, leave them in their original packaging so that customs can determine what they are.
For women doing extended travel in areas where obtaining and disposing of normal menstrual products is annoying, reusable menstrual products might be a useful alternative to consider. The primary products in this category are the suction cups: the silicone Diva Cup and the rubber Keeper. These are non-absorbent, reusable and do not even need to be rinsed before re-insertion every time.
Some women travellers might consider using the contraceptive pill to postpone or skip a period. Extended cycle pills such as Seasonale (one period every three months, rather than every 28 days) are approved for use in some countries, however normal monophasic pills can be used to skip periods as well, by skipping the pill-free period or the different coloured sugar placebo pills. Discuss this use with your prescribing doctor.
Reprinted with permission Wiki Voyager Creative Commons Licence
There are lots of travel agencies who cater specifically to women and organise tours just for women. Why not check some of the out. Here is just one of many
Fernhook Falls is more a series of cascades than a single waterfall, and is a lovely spot to visit in the rainy season. In a remote patch of native forest, the Deep River tumbles over rocks through a number of lush pools. The Deep River has its beginnings 52 km north near Lake Muir and flows through forested areas of National Park including the Walpole-Nornalup National Park and meanders another 42 km before discharging into the Nornalup Inlet. Deep River is one of the purest rivers in the south West because 95% of its journey is through forested catchment areas.
The falls are easily reached up a good gravel road, about 6km from the main highway. We hadn’t seen a single car all day. At the car park a trail took us through the bush to the biggest cascade, where the river descends under the road bridge. It wasn't really cascading, rather just a little trickle stream, but still very pretty, relaxing and peaceful.
The water may not drop a great height, but after rain in winter and spring the horizontal expanse of the main falls and surrounding rapids can be a delightful sight. And a delightful sound too; one not often experienced in the WA bush. It was so quiet with only the sounds of trickling water. There were numerous small cascades which provided us the opportunity for us to go rock-hopping to find different viewpoints.
Continuing downstream, the trail passes other cascades and ends up at Rowel's pool. There was a great trail/walkway to follow down the river with toilets and an interpretative centre at the carpark.
Dedicated Discoverer - Want to escape the daily grind? Looking for an authentic experience? Looking for adventure?
Aspirational Achievers - do you view travel and holidays as a reward for your hard work and success in life? Are you looking for a wine, food and activity based holiday?
Experience Seekers (International) - Do you want to challenge yourself? Visit authentic destinations off the tourist route? Exposure to unique and compelling experiences? Grow as an individual and stay healthy?
Discover the Albany Region and enjoy a memorable experience in a nature based environment.
Make the change from Visiting to Discovering and Experiencing.
Albany and our surrounding region offer tourists an experience like no other. National and local attractions, beautiful natural surrounds and wildlife, farmers markets, events and festivals, restaurants, bars and shops — Albany has it all.
Add to this the surrounding offerings all within an easy drive— pristine beaches, national parks and a wonderful selection of regional wineries — Albany Region is a tourism destination which truly has something for everyone.
It sounds like it is time for you to take action and put your well-being, health and happiness top of your priority list.
Booking and planning a holiday, even if it is still months away, will give you something to look forward to and you will be surprised at how good it makes you feel now.
Our time is limited and as such very precious and our holiday time even more so. For many busy working professionals it is important to book a holiday that can tick lots of boxes – an ultimate combination holiday, complete with experiences, discoveries and achievements. Being able to explore a destination that you have always wanted to go to is a wonderful way to reinvigorate yourself to the wonders of the world and its people. Of course you will need some time to rest and have relax in order to recharge those exhausted batteries. Add in some feel good factor for your body and soul –yoga is great for your body as well as your mind and soul.
Why not book yourself an Rest and Relax Long Weekend at HideAway Haven. Try Sup Yoga at one of our many stunning beaches, or Flying High Yoga on your deck, indulge in a massage and end the day with a RAW Food cooking class.
The Munda Biddi Trail is a world-class, nature-based, off-road cycling experience. A unique trail where a 1000km track has been built through an undeveloped natural corridor from Mundaring to Albany.
The Munda Biddi Trail means path through the forest in the Nyoongar Aboriginal language.
Enjoy a meandering pace with plenty of opportunities to stop and look at the cattle, goats, horses and other farm animals along the trail. In the quiet of the trail keep your eyes and ears alert for the many different of bird calls from the native birds, enjoy watching small animals such as bandicoots and rabbits running across or beside the trail.
During the wild-flower season enjoy the beauty of as the forest floors come to life with amazing colours. Surrounded by nature, relax and enjoy as the trail unfolds through majestic trees, such as the Karri that are the third largest in the whole of Australia.
Cross the suspension bridge at picturesque One Tree Bridge, experience the splendour of the Walpole Wilderness and beautiful coastal landscapes.
Finish at Albany and enjoy the comfort of a pillow top bed and a Jacuzzi to soothe those muscles. As a cycle accredited business HideAway Haven offers you the basic repair equipment and air pumps to pump up the tires. While you are here, Albany is a cycle friendly town with many cycle friendly businesses.