26 September 2023

Bold and bandicoot – a native returns

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The Land and Fire Management Officer at SA Water, Damian Stam has reported seeing three precious Southern Brown Bandicoots in the Mount Bold Reservoir Reserve where they haven’t been seen since 2021.

Admitting he was ‘amazed’ when he saw the long nosed native creatures foraging for food, Mr Stam pointed out that the animals had not been seen since the Cherry Gardens bushfire burnt through 1905 hectares of the area all that time ago.

“They are elusive animals and due to habitat loss and predation from foxes and cats, bandicoots are an endangered species,” Mr Stam said, “so I was thrilled to see them within one of our sites,” Mr Stam said.

“After the bushfire a couple of years ago, together with the Department for Environment and Water, we installed motion detection cameras within Mount Bold to observe animals returning to the area,” he said.

“This reservoir reserve is usually home to many native species including birds, reptiles and mammals, some of which are regionally significant, however, bandicoots haven’t been seen on the cameras within the fire damaged area and we feared the fire had significantly impacted local populations.”

Mr Stam said the Cherry Gardens bushfire not only resulted in the loss of animal life, but also had an extensive impact on habitat.

“After the fire, there was a lot of concern around how much of the bandicoot’s natural habitat had been destroyed and whether they’d able to find refuge in the unburnt vegetation,” he said.

“Native animals also face a new set of challenges once a fire has passed as food resources will often be scarce and the barren landscape provides no coverage to shelter from predators”.

The Land and Fire Management Officer said vegetation around Mount Bold was also recovering with new buds sprouting on trees and plants springing to life.

“On the previously burnt ground, we have noticed other wildlife, including insects, birds and echidnas, slowly returning to the area,” Mr Stam said.

Southern Brown Bandicoots shelter in thick shrub and turn over the soil by digging for their food, helping with nutrient cycling and plant growth.

These diggings can improve soil quality and the holes can trap seeds and help native plants to germinate, making bandicoots a crucial part of the ecological recovery process.

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