Meet some of the people working to save our species
In celebration of World Environment Day, we invite you to meet 4 people who are working to secure a future for our most vulnerable animals.
When it comes to conserving our state’s threatened species, every decision made through the Saving our Species (SoS) program is backed up by science and research, and then implemented on-ground by our experienced staff, partners, landholders and volunteers.
Our staff play an important role in coordinating these projects, and their detailed knowledge of and experience with the species they work on is critical to ensure we’re giving our threatened plants and animals the best chance possible.
Enhua Lee is a Conservation Assessment Officer and works on the recovery of the endangered green and golden bell frog (Litoria aurea).
Once common throughout its range, the green and golden bell frog population crashed with the arrival of frog chytrid fungus, and by the 1990s the species had disappeared from 90% of its original range.
We asked Enhua to tell us why the conservation of this species is important.
“This species resonates with people – it’s charismatic and charming and seems to capture people’s attention and imagination. People care about it and want to protect it.
“It’s important we don’t lose this once common species. Like many frogs, the green and golden bell frog plays an important role in our ecosystems, controlling insect populations and water quality in its adult and tadpole stages”.
As well as chytrid fungus, other threats include habitat loss and fragmentation, habitat degradation, changing climates affecting habitat, and predation by the mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki).
“I work with on-ground land managers, project partners and experts on this frog and coordinate the monitoring of and research on the species at a state-wide level. I’m pleased that over the last few years we’ve increased our understanding of what might be the more important drivers for conserving this species. We’ve compiled a robust and standardised state-wide dataset for the species that’s more powerful than individual datasets for individual sites.
“By caring for this species, we can better protect and improve both aquatic and terrestrial habitats the species relies on and have good outcomes for environmental protection more generally.
The SoS conservation project for green and golden bell frog has conducted monitoring, research, habitat mapping, weed reduction programs and habitat restoration. This work has been done across eight monitoring sites that represent the current distribution of the frog across NSW.
“Everyone can support the conservation of the green and golden bell frog, by joining the Australian Museum’s FrogID national citizen science project or by joining a volunteer Bushcare group and protecting habitat at key sites”.
Learn more about the green and golden bell frog.
David Geering is a Senior Project Officer and works on the recovery of the critically endangered regent honeyeater (Anthochaera phrygia).
We asked David why the regent honeyeater is special and to tell us a bit about his work.
“The regent honeyeater is the ‘canary in the coal mine’ of our temperate woodlands. It was among the first of our woodland birds to demonstrate a serious population decline, many more have followed this trend.
“I first began working on regent honeyeaters a few months after the birth of my first daughter. She grew up in the bush with me chasing these elusive birds and now, as a 27-year-old, has a tattoo of a regent honeyeater on her calf with ‘Dad’ emblazoned across it.
“The regent honeyeater is a beautiful, charismatic bird that has the ability to harness support for conservation efforts for many of its less striking woodland cohabiters”.
“I’m currently working with a steering committee, planning the latest in an on-going series of releases of captive-bred regent honeyeaters into the wild. This involves liaising with a wide range of diverse stakeholders including:
- Taronga Zoo staff who are responsible for the selection, screening and condition of birds in readiness for their release
- apiarists to ensure that the timing of the release coincides with when nectar flows so the birds are provided with optimal resources for survival
- various government departments who are providing logistical support
- volunteers who will underpin the short and longer term monitoring of the released birds.
These releases are supporting the declining wild population while other longer-term conservation measures take effect.
“I enjoy working on the regent honeyeater recovery because it’s a challenge and because conservation efforts for the recovery of regent honeyeater support a wide suite of other woodland species”.
David says that volunteers are an important component of the regent honeyeater recovery program and that opportunities exist with targeted tree planting programs and bird surveys.
“The reporting of regent honeyeater sightings is also very important. It not only provides us with information on the movements and behaviour of wild birds but on the survival and the contribution released captive-bred birds are making to the population as a whole”.
Learn more about regent honeyeater.
Adam Fawcett is a Senior Project Officer and works on the recovery of the brush-tailed rock-wallaby (Petrogale penicillata).
We asked Adam why the conservation of this species is important and what he enjoys about his job.
“The brush-tailed rock-wallaby is an amazing species. They are quiet, unobtrusive, incredibly agile and pretty cute to boot.
“I enjoy my job because it gets me out into some amazing parts of NSW and into places people normally would never go to help manage and conserve this beautiful species.
“Seeing brush-tailed rock-wallabies in the wild, given their habitat preferences and secretive nature, is a privilege, not easily forgotten”.
“No day is the same, the recovery work for brush-tailed rock-wallabies varies depending on the season. At the moment we are undertaking annual aerial counts of colonies in Oxley Wild Rivers National Park. This involves early morning starts at the local airport with fingers crossed for clear weather with no fog or low cloud. After briefings, we load up and fly into the gorge, stopping once to drop the doors. We then spend the next 2 hours counting brush-tailed rock-wallabies at colony sites across the upper reaches of Green Gully Creek, a tributary of the Apsley River. With the doors off it is usually less than 10 degrees, but the wind chill makes it well into the negatives. Many warm layers are a must!
“During spring and summer, days are spent hiking up to eight kilometres into steep mountains, scaling cliffs to service and manage our camera traps that we use to monitor colonies”.
Adam says that the brush-tailed rock-wallaby is an iconic species that has a large distribution across Victoria though NSW and the ACT into south east QLD and that the species has suffered a large decline since European settlement including extensive hunting early last century.
“Conserving this species is about re-addressing those mistakes for the longevity of the species”.
Learn more about brush-tailed rock-wallabies.
Lauren Hook-Walker is a Threatened Species Officer and one of her biggest projects is Glossies in the Mist. This work identifies and protects key feeding areas and maps and protects nesting hollows to help secure foraging and breeding habitat for the glossy black-cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami) within the Great Western Wildlife Corridor.
We asked Lauren about why this bird is special, and to tell us a bit about her work on its recovery.
“Glossy black-cockatoos are beautiful birds, with that striking flash of red in their tail. Usually in the bird world the males are more colourful but remarkably with glossies, the females have more colour. Females have individual yellow patterns on their heads and yellows and oranges in their tails.
“Glossies mate for life and often you will observe them preening and softly calling to each other. Their youngsters sometimes stay with the parents for up to a year and are hilarious to watch as they learn to feed on she-oak (Allocasuarina species) cones, often dropping them and then stealing the cones that their parents are eating.
“Other than their sweet nature, they also provide a function within the ecosystem and you will often see smaller birds following glossies, waiting to zip in and mop up the seeds accidentally spilt by the feeding cockatoos”.
Glossy black-cockatoos are threatened due to the loss of hollow-bearing trees and patches of Allocasuarina species, their most important food source.
“In my work on the Glossies in the Mist project, I undertake many varied tasks. There are 130 foraging transects that are surveyed, to understand and monitor the health of the glossy habitat. I work with landholders and the community to undertake mass plantings and support multiple volunteer groups to undertake seed collection, propagation or distribution of Allocasuarina trees. I work with project partners to create high level planning to prioritise areas for protection and enhancement and contribute glossy specific information to fire planning agencies and landholders. I write newsletters and submit all glossy sightings into BIONET, present talks at schools and conferences and even build and monitor nest boxes.
“But one of my favourite parts of the project is working with an amazing group of volunteers and landholders to enhance glossy black-cockatoo habitat. I also love working with a dedicated volunteer group who identify and catalogue female glossies by their facial plumage patterns in photos that are sent in by the community. This has been a remarkably successful way of tracking individuals through time and the volunteers have to date identified over 150 individual females and recorded information such as if she was seen with a male or juvenile.
Learn more about glossy black-cockatoos.
Everyone can support the conservation of glossy black-cockatoos by protecting, connecting and enhancing key habitat and by reporting sightings. Get involved in the Glossies in the Mist project.