Kojonup Reserve stands out from the nearby cleared wheat belt country as a chaotic, magical bushland filled with chattering bird life.
Kojonup Reserve after rain. Photo: Anthony O'Halloran.
The largest protected area of wandoo woodlands in the region, it shows us what this country was like before the destructive policies of the 1960s, when a million acres of WA bushland a year was burned, buried and bulldozed for broad-acre farming.
The reserve's canopy buzzes with insects, perfect prey for insectivorous birds such as the golden whistler. Many local bird species, such as the declining rufous treecreeper, nest in hollows in mature wandoo trees.
On the ground, fallen logs provide habitat for foraging birds such as white-browed babblers, and even the scattered bark and leaf litter are important, protecting against soil erosion and providing food and shelter for invertebrates, reptiles and small mammals.
The woodlands' nectar-rich flowers feed honeyeaters almost year round, and the trunks of the sheoak trees make perfect springboards for lightning-fast red-tailed phascogales, which leap from tree to tree.
All this has been protected thanks to the generosity of our supporters.
What this reserve protects
One of the few remaining intact wandoo woodlands left in southwest Western Australia, Kojonup Reserve is home to more than 80 species of native birds.
The reserve also protects these significant species and communities:
Wandoo tree with hollows. Photo: Paul Hatton.
Feather-flower (Verticordia). Photo: Simon Nevill.
- Shy feather-flower
- Trigger plant
- Fringed lily
- Wandoo woodland
- Sheoak woodland
- Brown mallet
What we’re doing on the property
As a direct consequence of the massive clearance of native vegetation from this part of the world, large tracts of land are now threatened by salinity, and Kojonup Reserve is no exception.
The southwest corner of the property has been particularly hard hit, with areas of the native bushland dead or salt-affected. However, tree-planting in neighbouring properties seems to be yielding some results, with the saline groundwater table remaining steady in recent years.
We also monitor and bait for rabbits and foxes as appropriate – critical management for the translocated red-tailed phascogales and a key reason Kojonup Reserve was chosen as a release site for them.
Phascogales on a mission
When dusk settles at Kojonup, if you know where to look, this reserve can put on a show you'll never forget.
Amy Mutton is poised to introduce a phascogale to its new home in the sheoak forest of Kojonup Reserve. Photo: WA Department of Environment and Conservation.
Tiny marsupials called red-tailed phascogales, no bigger than the size of a couple of matchboxes, fly through the air, leaping two metres at a time and gripping the sides of trees, almost as if their feet were wrapped in Velcro.
Once common in this area, red-tailed phascogales have declined dramatically in numbers, so that they now have the dubious distinction of being nationally endangered.
Brought to Kojonup Reserve in May 2010 and 2011 from various sites in the WA wheat belt, 30 individuals – 16 females and 14 males – were released just ahead of their mating season. Their mission: to contribute to increasing the number of self-sustaining populations in the region.
Red-tailed phascogale. Photo: Jiri Lochman/ Lochman Transparencies.
The males usually die after a single frenzied mating season, during which they pursue females at the expense of all other activities. But the females can live up to three years and can reproduce two or three times during that period.
Together with the WA Department of Environment and Conservation, we are monitoring the breeding success of the Kojonup population. If successful, this translocation program will re-establish a self-sustaining population, and may help save this species from extinction.
Kojonup is an Aboriginal name said to mean ‘place of the stone axe' (kodja) and the stone used to make it (kodj).
The O'Halloran family owned Kojonup Reserve between 1926 and 1996, and were so intent on protecting its woodlands that when it came time for them to sell they spent 10 years finding the appropriate buyer, Bush Heritage.