Consider this: Feral cats roam across 99.8% of Australia, yet for most of us, the only cats we ever come into contact with are family pets. How is that possible?
The answer is simple. Feral cats are quiet, cunning, cautious, generally solitary and almost always on the move. This makes trying to control them a difficult task, but doing so is essential to the future of biodiversity in this country - and one of the great challenges for Australian conservationists.
The threat that feral cats pose to our native species has of course long been recognised - Australia’s first national feral cat threat abatement plan was published in 1999 – but worryingly little progress has been made. If we’re to stop species like the Night Parrot and Red-tailed Phascogale from going extinct, we need to get serious about investing in novel techniques, new technologies, and research that helps us better understand and anticipate the movements of feral cats.
In our story ‘The problem with cats’, Hannah James looks at a few different approaches that our staff and partners are taking to cat control across arid landscapes in Queensland.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Bush Heritage’s first species translocation – when 30 endangered Red-tailed Phascogales (small, fluffy-tailed, tree-dwelling marsupials) were moved to our Kojonup Reserve in Western Australia. Predation by feral cats is considered to be the primary cause behind the decline of Red-tailed Phascogales, so to see the Kojonup population thriving today in an unfenced environment shows me what is possible when our native species are given a chance. More in our 'Marsupials under the microscope' story.
The final story in this edition of bushtracks is a special one – that of our long-time supporter Annelie Holden and her extraordinary gift: the Round House, our newest reserve. Located just an hour’s drive north of Melbourne, on Taungurung country, the Round House will be a place where the Bush Heritage community can come together to connect with each other and our work.
With 270 degree views from Mount Bulla to Mount Macedon it's sure to give many people much joy, just as it did Annelie and her partner George. I look forward to seeing you there.
Heather Campbell, Chief Executive Officer.