While still in its infancy, the forum has been very successful in bringing together researchers, land managers and members of the public.

Researchers gather for local conservation forum with Otways focus

August 8, 2019 BY

THE fourth annual Otways Threatened Species Research Network Forum will be held in Geelong tomorrow Friday August 9.

Conservation Ecology Centre’s research manager Jack Pascoe said the forum offered a unique chance for researchers to get together with land managers and members of the public to discuss how best to protect the threatened species in the region.

Jack said the forum not only offered the chance for researchers to show their findings, but to engage with the attendees to “make better decisions about conservation and research”.

The need for such a forum is also clear both in Australia having the worst mammal extinction record in the world, and also the Otways being home to several endangered species such as the long-nosed potoroo, the Southern brown bandicoot and the tiger quoll.

A major threat to these species are introduced animals, with foxes currently being a major problem in the Otways.

This is the focus of talks by both Emma Birnbaum and Mark Le Pla.

They both focus on the Otway Ark project, which has looked to limit the damage done by foxes through baiting. Emma’s recent work expanding the Otway Ark project onto private land has highlighted the cooperation between researchers and land owners and managers that Jack says makes the forum so vital.

Similarly, Mark Le Pla is working with the Otway Ark project to gather data on the effectiveness of baiting on foxes. The highly evolved DNA sampling that Mark and his fellow researchers are using means they are able to get a far clearer idea of the impact of baiting than the more archaic methods usually used.

Yet as one threat becomes better contained, another emerges, as Emma is also talking about the next big environmental threat in the Otways: feral pigs.

Feral pigs have been rumoured to be in the Otway district for some time now, but in recent years there have been a few confirmed sightings.

This is highly problematic, as feral pigs are incredibly destructive to the environment, and can also be aggressive towards people.

Emma says urgent action is needed to eradicate feral pigs. “We need to get on top of the them before they get as ingrained as foxes, deer and rabbits.”

The forum will help Emma raise awareness of this issue to land managers, but the public themselves can also contribute.

Any sightings of feral animals, or even any damage that seems to have been done by them can be reported on the app Feral Scan, that is available at feralscan. org.au.

Tickets for the forum are $20 and can be purchased at bit.ly/2yHEYy4.