Friends of Parks Kangaroo Island Western Districts received a grant to purchase four cameras that could be left out in the bush to capture images of native wildlife passing before the lens, particularly the elusive southern brown bandicoot,

Snapshot: Members of the group with a camera trap set up near the West End Highway. Photo: Colin Wilson.
Snapshot: Members of the group with a camera trap set up near the West End Highway. Photo: Colin Wilson.

A couple of years ago Friends of Parks KI Western Districts received a grant to purchase four cameras that could be left out in the bush to capture images of native wildlife passing before the lens. The main aim was to learn more about the abundance and distribution of the elusive southern brown bandicoot, in collaboration with Natural Resources KI.

Every few months each camera is moved to a new location in the west end, attached to star-dropper and pointed at a bait station containing a mix of peanut butter and oats. The cameras have sensors that detect movement and snap off pictures of anything moving in the field of view, day or night.

The cameras have captured a remarkable diversity of KI wildlife, including kangaroos, wallabies, brush-tail possums, pygmy possums, bush rats, goannas, a number of species of rare birds and, unfortunately, a few cats and pigs. All up it’s now well over 20 species, including a solitary bandicoot and, best of all, a single specimen of the endangered KI dunnart in a location far from any previous record.

It’s been a labour of love for several of our members, especially Peter, Nirbeeja and Wendy who have spent countless hours scrolling through thousands of grainy images, many showing just a twig moving in the breeze, to record the species seen and submit them to the state database.

Last weekend it was time for another change of location, this time to a couple of sites along the West End Highway, near where dunnarts have been captured in the past. Each camera must be set facing south to avoid sun on the lens triggering the movement sensor. A tea-infuser filled with what we hope is irresistible bait is hung from a couple of bent wires in front of the lens and any waving leaves are trimmed from the field of view.

Somebody is required to play bandicoot impersonator in front of the camera to check that everything is working as it should, and then it is left to its own devices, requiring only occasional visits to download data from the chip and to replace the batteries.

We haven’t yet been able to shed much light on KI bandicoots, but we have certainly obtained lots of valuable data on other species to add to that collected by professional scientists with their limited resources.

Taking part in this labour of love were John Hodgson, Danielle Calabro (liaison Ranger), Peter Hammond, Anthea Reynolds, Emily, Mike, Matthew and Wendy Penhall, Bev Maxwell and Ruth Wandell.

If you would like to become involved in our monthly working bees, doing a wide range of useful activities with a friendly bunch, call Bev or Colin on 8553 2059.