[4 November 2015]
Freshwater crocodiles in Windjana Gorge National Park have been surveyed in an effort to better understand native species that will be impacted by the arrival of cane toads.
The survey was undertaken in October by the Department of Parks and Wildlife and Bunuba rangers, with support from Rangelands NRM through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.
Rangelands NRM Program Manager (Kimberley) Grey Mackay said collaboration was key to getting good outcomes on the ground and reducing impacts of cane toads on native species.
“Only through aligning federal, state and community efforts can we make a difference,” he said.
Parks and Wildlife West Kimberley nature conservation coordinator Tracy Sonneman said cane toads could be fatal to native species, including freshwater crocodiles, if ingested.
“It is vital we gain baseline data about the population of freshwater crocodiles in Windjana Gorge and nearby pools in the Lennard River prior to the arrival of cane toads,” she said.
“This is the second year the survey has been carried out and it is providing us with good information about population structure and mobility, with 78 freshwater crocodiles collected, processed and released this year.
“The State Government’s Cane Toad Strategy identified this project as a priority, to help us maximise our understanding of cane toad impacts on freshwater crocodiles in important Kimberley locations.”
Twenty-three people participated in the survey including Parks and Wildlife staff, Bunuba Rangers, two Ngarla Rangers from Port Hedland as part of an exchange program and other volunteers, including representatives from zoos around Australia.
After netting the pools, experts handled the trapped crocodiles while volunteers helped measure them, take samples for genetic testing and check that they were in good condition.
Mr Mackay said the sheer number of cane toads travelling across the Kimberley could result in localised extinctions of certain species.
“This project seeks to better understand where we can possibly reduce the impacts of cane toads,” he said.
“Through education, awareness and engagement, indigenous ranger groups are playing a key role in caring for their environment and working to reduce the impacts of cane toads on native species.”
1. Volunteer, Naomi Mackay carries a secured crocodile for processing
2. Bunuba Ranger Coordinator, Natalie Davies tagging a crocodile
3. Freshwater sawfish being tagged
4. The group learning how to correctly release the crocodiles.