Cats in Tarra-Bulga National Park

Although they are not often seen by visitors, feral and domestic cats are established predators at Tarra-Bulga National Park and our remote camera results suggest they are becoming more common.

The table below shows results from five years of remote camera monitoring carried out by the Friends of Tarra-Bulga Park. Cat numbers as a percentage of total species recorded rose dramatically from 0.7 to 3.9%.

Year 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
No. of Cats Records 16 33 64 59 41 64
Total Records 2208 2898 4827 3804 1352 1638
Percentage of Cats 0.7% 1.1% 1.3% 1.6% 3.0% 3.9%

The impact these cats are having on the birds, small mammals and reptiles is a real concern. Although there are many variables in the ways we set up our cameras, the general trend in the last few years is for them to be detecting greater numbers of cats and less small native mammals (e.g. Antechinus and Bush Rats). Sadly we have also been detecting less of the smaller birds such as Pilotbirds and White-browed Scrubwrens. (For a summary of sightings of others species download this Percentage of sightings per year for commonly detected species captured in remote camera photos )

The gallery below shows that cats in Tarra-Bulga range from large ferals and panther look-alikes to small (some might say cute) looking kittens, some even have collars. What is undeniable though, is that their presence has a major impact on the ecology of Tarra-Bulga National Park.

 

When Koalas are on to a good thing.

Amazing how much of a routine Koalas get into. At a camera site we had been monitoring for over 12 months, we had never come across a Koala. In fact you wouldn’t really have expected one because it is in a regrowth area of Silver Wattle, with the nearest suitable Eucalypts quite a distance away. All of a sudden our camera location has become a point on a local Koalas new favourite path. Since late May it has been crossing by our camera on average every couple of days, all up a total of 24 times (and still counting).

It is interesting to click on and check out this photo gallery to see just how regular of a routine it has.

Camera Site Greatly Exceeds Expectations

In February we placed a camera in a new site along the Grand Ridge Rd, in vegetation that was not typical old growth Mountain Ash forest, but rather sad looking regrowth scrub. As a result we didn’t have high expectations as to what fauna we’d find in this habitat. Surprisingly though it’s a very popular spot, especially with ground dwelling birds (must be lots of food) and we obtained some fantastic images. All up the camera was triggered on 165 separate occasions, see the table below for more details)

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Species Sightings  

Species

Sightings
Brush Bronzewing 36   Fox 3
Superb Lyrebird 22   Swamp Wallaby 2
White-browed Scrubwren 20   Echidna 2
Bassian Thrush 16   Koala 2
Pilotbird 13   Common Blackbird 2
Eastern Whipbird 7   Brushtail Possum 1
Superb Fairy-wren 7   Rufous Fantail 1
Wombat 4    
  • In addition there were 26 birds that triggered the camera not able to be identified from the image quality to species level.
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Koala on Candid Camera

Since our remote camera project began around two years ago, we had only once photographed a Koala. These figures have now been boosted by 800% with a camera in the north east of Tarra Bulga National Park capturing a Koala eight times all on separate days over a period of about 7 weeks.  Most sightings were in the early morning, but a few were in the evening.  Another case luck with the camera being at the right place at the right time to film the comings and goings of the locals.

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Proved to be a Good Idea

After seeing an interesting looking old tree, with some interesting looking hollows, which was leaning over on an angle, we thought it might worth trying something a bit different and pointing a remote camera at it. Not expecting much of a result, it was great to find that it is a busy spot for some of our small mammal species. Antechinus, Bush Rats, Brushtail and Ringtail Possums were all regular users. It was very exciting to also photograph some Sugar Glider activity, this is the first time we have managed to get a shot of one with our cameras.

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How to Set Up Remote Camera Traps

Very informative video here from PestSmart, where they give an excellent lesson on remote cameras (like the ones our group uses in Tarra Bulga) and how to get the best results out of them when using them for monitoring wildlife and pest species.