WildCount

WildCount is a 10-year fauna monitoring program that uses motion-sensitive digital cameras in 200 sites across 146 parks and reserves in eastern New South Wales.

It is easy to believe that native animals like kangaroos, possums, lyrebirds and wombats will always be around. Is it possible that they are in decline? WildCount aims to answer this question.

WildCount looks at trends in occurrence of animals at these sites, to understand if animals are in decline, increasing or stable.

The videos below have more information about the project.

Volunteering with WildCount

Meet NPWS volunteer, Vicky, as she recounts her experiences during the 2018 WildCount season.

Data analysis

From analysis on the first year's data, WildCount can confidently detect changes in occurrence of 12 species over ten years. We are currently working on an interim report using data from 2012–16, that should see this list increase.

Swamp wallaby Red fox Short-eared brushtail possum
Common brushtail possum Red-necked wallaby Red-necked pademelon
Superb lyrebird Eastern grey kangaroo White-winged chough
Common wombat Long-nosed bandicoot Australian brush-turkey

 

WildCount will be able to detect if there is a change in occurrence that meets the criteria for listing species under the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List. The power to detect such change means Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) can examine other broad trends such as increase in pest species. Understanding these changes in native and pest species will assist in the management of parks and reserves.

WildCount focuses on monitoring typically widespread species. There have been other exciting detections too, including new threatened species records.

Citizen science in action

Since 2014 Wildcount has been heavily reliant on the dedication, and support of volunteers to complete each field season. The program is structured with 6 field teams (one NPWS officer, and a volunteer) operating across the State from February to late May. Typically volunteers dedicate 1 full week to the program.

The table below shows the integral contributions of volunteers in Wildcount:

Year No. of Volunteers Total Volunteer Hours
2014 35 1465
2015 58 1972
2016 55 2230
2017 52 1945
2018 46 1755

How can I get involved?

From October each year the WildCount team begins looking to recruit volunteers for the next field season. You can register your interest by emailing us at npws.wildcount@environment.nsw.gov.au

Please bear in mind that WildCount volunteers are expected to have a high level of fitness, and be available for 1 full week during the season. Teams (1 volunteer and 1 NPWS staff member) will typically visit 2 sites a day. On average each site takes nearly 3 hours on foot to complete, traversing a variety of terrain (not on paths), and in all weather.

Digitising WildCount: What happens to the data?

  • Since the WildCount program started in 2012, a small team of researchers and volunteers have collected, processed and reviewed approximately 280,000 wildlife images each year.
  • The records of the animals captures are submitted to the NSW Bionet so that landscape managers, researchers and the general public have access to the data.

Photo Albums

Over 1 million animal images have been captured as part of the Wildcount program.

We have put a selection of these up on OEH's flickr account.