The Fauna of
The Short-beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) -prowling for meat ants.
Marsupials: There are six native marsupials found in the park.
These are the Southern Brown Bandicoot (Isoodon Obesulus); the Western Grey Kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus); the Koala (Phascolarctus cinereus) -though not indigenous to the area; the Yellow-footed Antechinus (Antechinus flavipes); the Common Ringtail Possum (Pseudocheirus perigrinus) and the Common Brush-tailed Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula).
Bandicoots and Antechinus are often seen out and about during the winter months, particularly on sunny afternoons (as are large groups of the Western Grey Kangaroos, though this is less remarkable).
A Koala taking it really easy.
The Southern Brown Bandicoot
This animal could be considered the "jewel" of Scott Creek Conservation Park, as the park is a stronghold in the Mount Lofty ranges for this interesting marsupial.
Like most marsupials, the bandicoot is nocturnal, but that doesn't mean that you won't see one out in the open in the daytime, as some visitors have mentioned in our guest book.
Their breeding season begins in winter and lasts for several months. The female has eight nipples in a rear opening pouch and can have from one to six young at a time. If conditions are favorable, new litters follow immediately after the previous one has been weaned, resulting in three litters or more in a year.
The bandicoots at Warrawong Sanctuary originally came from SCCP. It was extraordinary to see how quickly their numbers increased after their release there.
While they can require large territories of several hectares, in the ideal habitat around the creek lines of the park, they have been known to live in quite dense numbers less than a hundred metres apart.
Isoodon obesulus obesulus (the Southern Brown Bandicoot)
The following is taken from a recent advice to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage prepared by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), requesting the status of Isoodon obesulus obesulus (the Southern Brown Bandicoot) to be increased that of an endangered species:
"...the abundance of this subspecies has suffered a severe reduction in numbers since European settlement. In the mid-1800s this subspecies was reported as being extremely common being reported as one of the ‘very commonest’ Australian mammals.
By the 1920s the Southern Brown Bandicoot was considered to be rare. Although current numbers are difficult to estimate, compared to historical indications that this subspecies was very common (...they may have numbered in the millions), today its abundance appears to be a fraction of what it was. This indicates that this subspecies has undergone a severe reduction in numbers. Further, the subspecies appears to be continuing to decline – a number of local extinctions are known to have occurred during the last decade. This is particularly evident in NSW. In addition, recent surveys provide evidence that that the subspecies has declined in distribution and abundance in south-west Victoria.
Evidence has been provided that the threats to this subspecies are continuing to operate over much of its range. These are changed fire regimes (especially frequent fuel reduction burning), predation by the Red Fox and feral Cat (both listed as Key Threatening Processes), and habitat clearing and fragmentation. The TSSC considers that unless specific actions are undertaken to ameliorate these threats where the subspecies occurs, it will continue to be threatened.
...indicate(s) that the most severe contractions in its distribution have been
in SA and NSW. In SA, it has disappeared from a number of localities/regions
and remnant populations are highly fragmented. This makes these populations
vulnerable to catastrophic disturbance, particularly fire, with little potential
for natural recolonisation. In NSW, the subspecies is rare or extinct in most
parts of its former range (it has declined over 50% or more of its previous
range) and is continuing to decline.
The threats to this subspecies are continuing to operate, which casts some doubt as to its persistence in the long-term without appropriate targeted management action and conservation strategies."
This advice to the minister was accepted and it is now considered endangered.
So it's pleasing to see it in good numbers in Scott Creek. More pictures.
more Bandicoot information, please visit the Department
of Environment & Heritage Threatened Species Site or download this PDF
brochure entitled "Bandicoots
in my Garden" (This document is 217k and will take a while to download on dial up.)
Two native rodents residing in the park, the Southern Bush Rat (Rattus fuscipes greyii) and the Golden Water Rat (Hydromys chrysogaster). It is thought that the Swamp Rat, Rattus lutreolus, may occur near the park.
Because it's such a noisy mover as it goes through the bush, it's easier to see than you might expect. You'll find of evidence of its activities all around the park. Here's more on how to meet an echidna......
As any introduced species is occupying a niche where a native species should be, all the species below are impacting in some way on the ecosystems of the park. Early intervention and eradication is ALWAYS the best approach to both exotic weed and mammal species introductions. History and experience has shown that once established and acclimatised, most introductions are here to stay, often at great cost to the natural world.
Capra hircus - Goat
Goats have only recently been sighted in the park (2009) so there is an opportunity to eradicate them. Australia has an estimated population of around 3 million feral goats and their devastating impact on the environment is well documented. Operation Bounceback saw the numbers of rabbit and goats drastically reduced in the Flinders Ranges. The resultant regeneration of native species (many thought extinct) was spectacular.
Remnant native vegetation in the MLR is always under pressure from either clearance for housing causing fragmentation, fire, and grazing and trampling by stock allowed inappropriate access. The added burden of introductions such as deer and goats in areas such as Scott Creek where native vegetation is often in excellent condition, should be seen as unacceptable. The often overlooked native orchids and lilies are frequently the species that suffer the most. Populations of orchids are sometimes quite small and the loss of flower heads, leading to low or no seed production, set the stage for local extinctions that will go unnoticed.
Cervus (Dama) dama - Fallow Deer
As with the eastern states, South Australia has experienced a gradual but steady invasion of deer. They are now found in very high numbers in the south east and for at least ten years have been spreading throughout the MLR. Poor fencing, leading to escapes and even deliberate releases from deer farms, are responsible for the initial populations and they have found this area very much to their liking. They were first sighted about ten years ago and the damage they cause is often seen in good bush.
They will completely strip the bark from young trees and shrubs lowering the recruitment rate of these species. This is a classic case where early intervention, not just here but throughout Australia would have prevented the current wave of destruction they are causing.
Some deer culling has begun in Scott Creek (2009) but given the terrain and hundreds of hectares in which to hide, their total eradication is almost impossible. Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) have also been seen in Scott Creek and adjacent Mt Bold catchment.
Felis cattus - Cat.
It is very hard to estimate numbers but they have been captured during Bandicoot trapping surveys. As they are such efficient hunters taking birds, small mammals, lizards and invertebrates, even one can have a major impact on the parks biodiversity.
Lepus capensis- Brown Hare
Hares are scattered throughout the park, preferring the more open paddock areas, sometimes being seen along roadsides. Whilst numbers are not high they are a still a problem as they can reach up and eat the tops of seedling plants and will also ringbark young shrubs and trees.
Mus domesticus- House Mouse
The impact of these little rodents is probably underestimated. A PhD student working on the predation of Superb Fairy Wrens in Scott Creek, set up a remote video camera at a nest site. The film showed a mouse climbing into the nest and eating the eggs. Given the high numbers that occur in the “boom” times, they are no doubt contributing in no small way to the decline of these and other birds that nest close to the ground. There is probably a PhD thesis in waiting on the impacts of this small beast on the natural environment.
Oryctolagus cuniculus - Rabbit
As with many areas of the MLR, rabbits were not overly impacted by the calici virus and have always maintained quite high densities insome areas of the park. Dense blackberry thickets and/or the native bracken are usually the best habitats to find them. Their cost to agriculture is well documented but as the natural environment is not usually valued for the ecosystem services it provides, the real cost to our ecosystems is unknown. Anecdotal evidence and the remarkable recovery of areas where they have been removed, points to the profound effect they have had on those areas.
Rattus rattus - Black Rat
These mammals are often caught during bandicoot trapping programs but numbers are very difficult to estimate. They no doubt impact on the native bushrat and like the mouse, would predate on birds eggs and young also reptiles and their eggs.
Vulpes vulpes - Fox
Fox numbers are difficult to estimate but ongoing baiting by DEH indicates their numbers fluctuate from year to year. Like cats, they are very efficient hunters but are more omnivorous, eating fruit, blackberries and the seed from the introduced Boneseed. Foxes are therefore a very unwelcome addition to the park as these seeds are often deposited in remote areas and the resultant plants can go unnoticed for years.
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