Thanks to the Baiting for Biodiversity program and continued landscape-scale predator control program, there are good signs that some native species are already returning to southern Yorke Peninsula. Many local farmers have reported seeing wildlife they haven’t seen in 50 years, such as Echidnas, Malleefowl, Bush Stone-curlews and Goannas. By creating an area of low fox abundance, animals like the Bush Stone-curlew are migrating into this space from higher up on the peninsula. Plus, species that already existed in the project area in very low numbers are also being noticed more as their numbers increase.
Malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata) is just larger than a domestic chicken, with mottled black, grey and brown feathers and a cream-coloured underbelly. It lays its eggs in a large mound and uses heat from decomposing leaf litter and the sun to incubate its eggs. Malleefowl is one of a collection of threatened and near threatened birds living on southern Yorke Peninsula, including Western Whipbirds and Bush Stone-curlews. Reducing exotic predators such as foxes and feral cats and improving the quality of native vegetation will also benefit these species.
Hooded Plovers (Thinornis cucullatus) are small shorebirds, easily identified by their distinctive black hood, red circle around the eye and orange stalk-like legs. The Hooded Plover is listed as vulnerable in South Australia and nationally, meaning the birds are considered to be facing a high risk of extinction. Human activity and introduced predators are the major threats to Hooded Plovers. Nesting at the base of the sand dunes during spring and summer on Yorke Peninsula’s beaches, they will abandon eggs and chicks if persistently disturbed by off-road vehicles, dogs, people and foxes.
This threatened ground-dwelling bird had been absent from southern Yorke Peninsula until it was sighted again in 2012 in Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park using remote cameras and volunteer monitoring. Mostly nocturnal birds, they have been heavily affected by habitat loss and fox predation. Extensive and coordinated fox baiting across southern Yorke Peninsula has seen this threatened species return to the Marna Banggara project area.
It is anticipated that the reintroduced animals will have an overall positive effect on native plant populations by improving soil conditions for seedlings to establish. The composition and condition of the native vegetation will be monitored through time, to ensure no negative impacts occur.