After 13 years of environmental havoc caused by feral pig populations, Victoria’s Quail Island is once again a haven for wildlife, with evidence of the first, rare Southern Brown Bandicoot discovered there in six years.
Backed by over $200,000 in Australian Government funding, Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority and Parks Victoria rangers have succeeded in eradicating feral pigs from this unique part of the internationally renowned Western Port Ramsar wetlands, south east of Melbourne.
The deliberate introduction of feral pigs to the island by hunters in 2008, destroyed many of the island’s fragile habitats.
The pests damaged important vegetation such as saltmarsh and mangrove communities, herb rich woodlands and swamp scrub, and threatened native wildlife and migratory shorebirds.
The first evidence of the Southern Brown Bandicoot comes eighteen months since the last pig sighting - a reminder of the importance of the collaborative work being undertaken by the Australian Government, the states and landcare groups to eradicate feral pests.
Since 2014, the Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority and Parks Victoria rangers have sought to contain the island’s feral pig population.
But it was the introduction of an intensive monitoring program in early 2019 involving drone surveillance and thermal imaging, which improved the effectiveness of the program, and achieved the eradication of pigs from the island.
Feral pests are one of the biggest threats Australia faces in the protection of threatened species. Feral cats alone threaten the survival of over 100 native species and pest animals like pigs, deer and wild horses destroy habitats that threaten the survival of many more.
The Western Port wetlands, comprising mangroves, saltmarsh and seagrass meadows, are located around the coastal fringe of Western Port Bay, from Point Leo to Phillip Island. They cover more than 59,000 hectares and are listed as internationally significant under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands that is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Further information on this project can be found here