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Conservation

CONSERVATION PROPERTIES

ST GEORGE (BRIGALOW BELT)

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The Mourachan Conservation Property was purchased by Steve and Terri Irwin for the prime purpose of conserving the diversity of the semi arid ecosystems and associated wildlife that occur on the property.

A second objective has been to run beef cattle in some of the previously cleared paddocks using management practices that result in minimal negative impact on the natural environment and take into account the regular drought events that affect the area.

Much of the land is regaining a biodiversity with many different species of fauna and flora becoming re-established after years of broad scale clearing for sheep farming, small scale cattle farming and agricultural farming


How Many Acres?

  • 84 000 acres

Where is it?

  • Located in the south western corner of Queensland in the most endangered habitat type in Australia.
  • Known as the "Brigalow Belt" (Acacia Woodland).
  • Outside the town of St George, in the South West of Queensland
  • Situated on the edge of the endangered Brigalow Belt

Why is it special?


Ecosystem mapping shows that a number of Regional Ecosystems of high conservation value are present.

Previous and current knowledge and assessments show that these Ecosystems largely remain either in an unaltered or minimally altered state in terms of clearing, grazing activities and impacts from feral animals, a situation that greatly enhances the quality of property’s natural values.

Three predatory, one omnivorous, and two herbivorous feral animal species are known to exist on the property.

Mourachan Conservation Property protects a diverse, mosaic landscape of significant and endangered remnant ecosystems and associated wildlife species.

In broader terms the property is an important component in conserving biodiversity values of both regional and Queensland wide significance - which have otherwise been substantially eroded or removed throughout much of the remainder of Mulga and Brigalow Bioregions through land clearing for agriculture and grazing.

What kind of animal could I find there?

BIRDS include:

  • Laughing Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguinea
  • Hooded Robin Melanodryas cucullata
  • Black faced Cuckoo Shrike Coracina novaehollandae
  • Pied Currawong Strepera graculina
  • White winged Chough Corcorax melanorhamphos
  • Tawny Frogmouth Podargus strigoides
  • Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala

REPTILES include:

  • Woma Python (RARE)
  • Yakka Skink (Vulnerable)
  • Lace Monitor Varanus
  • Yellow Spotted Monitor Varanus panoptes
  • Sand Goanna Varanus gouldii
  • Bynoes Gecko Heterontia binoei
  • Western Mottled Tree Gecko Gehyra variegate
  • Inland Fence Skink Cryptoblepharus carnaby

AMPHIBIANS include:

  • Warty Waterholding Frog” Cyclorana verrucosa (RARE)

MAMMALS

  • Eastern Grey Kangaroos
  • Wallaroos
  • Grey Kangaroo Macropus giganteous
  • Four sighted early mornings in Mulga/Poplar Box woodland.
  • Black Wallaby Wallabia bicolor

 

Infrastructure

  • Managers homestead
  • Tack shed, feed shed, work shed and car ports.
  • Shearing shed, stockmens quarters, stockyards, cattle grids, workshop.
  • Access roads and tracks.
  • Campsites on permanent water.
  • Two 4WD vehicles, all terrain vehicles, tractor, backhoe, bulldozer, bobcat, and excavator.


Current Programs

  • Fencing out neighbouring livestock, re-fencing, fence maintenance, old fence removal.
  • Eliminating kangaroo shooters and sport shooters.
  • Revegetating.
  • Cattle versus wildlife scientific study.
  • Repairs, maintenance, new construction.
  • Habitat restoration.
  • Wildlife studies and fauna counts, environmental assessments, flora identification.
  • Improving water quality.

Future Program

  • Total ban on all shooters, especially professional roo shooters.
  • Feral pest management.
  • Revegetation and habitat restoration.
  • Scientific studies.
  • Upgrade roads and tracks.
  • Stock and feral animal proof fencing (wildlife friendly). Removal of old fencing and rubbish left over last 100 years.
  • Establish wildlife sanctuary status.
  • Construct hack-out and rehabilitation facilities.
  • Construct and establish an educational. facility and science/ interpretive centre.
  • Fauna surveys and environment assessment.
  • Adjoining land acquisition.
  • "Brigalow Belt" land acquisition.
  • Establish endangered species breeding areas for Bilbies and Northern Hairy-nosed Wombats, Womas & Yakka skinks.

Endangered Species of the Brigalow Belt Region

Greater Bilby (Macrotis lagotis)

Westbore

The Greater Bilby was formerly found throughout arid and semi-arid Australia - as far east as Surat in QLD, and out to the western slopes of NSW. Its range has now significantly contracted to scattered colonies in acacia shrubland and hummock grassland from Tanami Desert (NT), the Greater Sandy Desert and Gibson Desert (WA), and in south-western QLD.

The Bilby is best distinguished by long ears, silky grey fur and its unique long, tricoloured tail. Greater Bilbies use to live in over 70% of mainland Australia. Today a total of around 600 -700 animals live in far south-western QLD near Birdsville, a big reduction on previous populations.

Habitat destruction due to the grazing behaviours of cattle and rabbits, as well as predation by cats, foxes and dingoes has resulted in the reduction of the Greater Bilbies range. Now that cattle have been successfully excluded from much of the bilbies current habitat it is easier for researchers to monitor their burrows and survey populations.
To ensure the Greater Bilbies future conservation it is important to preserve the populations in areas where they now exist, increase the number of populations by translocating individuals to suitable areas, and implement appropriate control measures for cats, foxes and dingoes.

Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat

The Northern Hairy-nosed wombat is one of the most endangered mammals in the world today. With only approximately 113 animals left in the wild (and only 35 of these being female), this is one animal that without our immediate attention is going to disappear very soon.

This species was once found as far south as the Victorian border. It disappeared from the Deniliquin and St George areas by the late 1800’s, and now only exists in a tiny 300ha of Epping forest in central Queensland.

Currently the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service is conducting research on all facets of this animal’s behaviour and natural history, in the hope of increasing the existing population at Epping, as well as the long term goal of re-establishing populations in areas where they no longer exist. This combined with the protection and enhancement of habitat, will all assist the long term survival of this species.

Bridled Nailtail Wallaby (Onchogalea fraenata)

The Bridled Nailtail Wallaby has become vulnerable due to predation by feral cats, foxes and dingoes. The removal of vegetation by sheep, cattle and rabbits has also impacted on Bridled Nailtail Wallaby populations. In Queensland, the clearing of prime wallaby habitat of Brigalow and softwood scrub has reduced the area of this species preferred environment by approximately 95%.  
The Nailtail Wallaby is best distinguished by the black elongated nail on the tip of it’s tail. This species formerly inhabited the shrub and woodland of the semi-arid inland areas, living mostly on the slopes and plains east of the Great Dividing Range. The now small remaining population are found in open eucalypt forest, woodland and Brigalow scrubs of Taunton National park near Dingo, west of Rockhampton.
Research suggests that the loss of native grasses, lack of preferred Brigalow regrowth areas, and drought within the limited habitat they occupy, will severely impede their recovery. This species also faces great competition for food with other grazers such as domestic stock and rabbits.
For the future conservation of this species it is important that the existing population is monitored and maintained. New populations should be established in suitable habitats (this species has been successfully released on Idalia National Park near Blackall) and the implementation of appropriate control measures for cats, foxes and dingoes will assist in maintaining the populations.

Woma Aspidites ramsayi

The Woma is a member of the python family and is a non-venomous snake which constricts it’s prey. Womas are terrestrial in habitat, utilising animal burrows and hollow logs for shelter. They can even make adjustments to a burrow by using their head as a shovel.

Womas prey upon mammals, reptiles (including venomous snakes) and birds, and will ambush prey in burrows. When a Woma is attacking prey in a burrow, it may not be unable to completely coil its prey due to space restrictions, and instead it will press the prey against the wall of the burrow to asphyxiate it.

Womas are primarily nocturnal animals, however more recent observations are revealing that at certain times of the year they may come out to bask during the day. Womas grow to an average of 3 meters in length.

This species has a very widespread distribution, mainly across the arid inland of Australia, in particular desert areas. Whilst the Woma is currently classified as one species, there are three distinct forms which occur, and upon scientific confirmation these forms may even warrant sub-species classification. Two of the three forms are highly endangered.

The south-western form, from Western Australia, is rarely ever sighted in the wild and is already in serious trouble, the other is the Brigalow form, from Queensland. This form is suffering from loss of habitat due to the current rate of land clearing occurring in the Brigalow Belt. It isn’t too late! Populations of the Brigalow form of the Woma will increase if the habitat can be saved.