The Coastal wildlife tracking workshop was held at Minyumai IPA on the 22nd and 23rd of March 2016. The workshop was delivered by Brad Nesbitt (wildlife tracking consultant) for the Minyumai IPA rangers, representatives from the Local Land Services and Firesticks. There had been recent heavy rainfall prior to the workshop, which cleared, enabling the rangers to perform the setup and assessment of the sand plots.
The location for setting up the sand plots was along Minyumai Rd, a fire trail that dissects the IPA. This road provides good vehicle access through the property and it passes though different vegetation types. The road is quite sandy and we observed the tracks of a large possum whose tracks were identified while setting up the sand plots.
Under the guidance of Brad the rangers used builder’s sand to set up a total of 9 sand plots. Each plot is set up by placing the sand in the desired area, then smoothing the sand using a rake and broom to leave a fresh pad ready for imprinting by an animals footprints overnight. Branches are placed on either side of the plot to channel the animals across the plot.
The morning after setting up the plots the group went out to see what had left tracks overnight. The group found that most plots had tracks and discussed ways of identifying tracks and movement. There were pest animal prints detected, however, these were created by Brad for demonstration purposes. Although there were no real pest animal prints made overnight pest animals are present in the area. Overnight a fox was caught on camera approaching the sand plot. Brad’s dingo walked across the plot so the group could see the difference in tracks left when an animal is walking or running.
Two systems of recording the data collected was used by the rangers. Brad’s method is to record observations using an excel spread sheet, where the data is later plugged into excel. Minyumai IPA is a partner with Macquarie University and Firesticks in the delivery of the NSW Environment funded project titled “Developing a new cross-cultural environmental monitoring tool” which uses CyberTracker applications to map and monitor cultural values. A CyberTracker application was developed for this sand plot monitoring which allows for a GPS reading, notes and photos to be recorded. Macropod tracks were the most common, along with a goanna and unidentified water bird. The Minyumai rangers plan to use the plots to monitor animal activity on their IPA.