Rosenberg’s goannas, once commonly found across much of Southern Australia, have their last stronghold on Kangaroo Island, but sadly even there the population is declining.
Dr Brian Green, now retired Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) field ecologist began his research with the goannas on the Island in 1966.
Since 1992, regular population surveys have been carried out by Dr Green and his colleague Dr Peggy Rismiller.
Ongoing surveys have now confirmed concerns that the population is declining.
Traffic poses a significant risk is to goannas.
Due to their attraction to roadkill and carrion, goanna road deaths increase when traffic increases.
During a typical summer holiday season, there may be more than 570 reported road kills - a time which also coincides with the goannas’ courtship and breeding season.
Feral cats also pose a significant threat to the goanna population, as does the destruction of habitat.
Many people consider termites to be pests but termite mounds make a perfect nursery for goannas which lay their eggs in termite mounds as termites regulate the temperature and humidity, making it an ideal egg hatchery.
According to local expert Dr Peggy Rismiller, who runs Goanna Watch, every visitor and resident on the island can help become a citizen scientist.
“During the past two decades the community has been the driving force behind educating the public about our wildlife and the riches of Kangaroo Island,” Dr Rismiller said.
“Public reports of goanna sightings, dead or alive, are filling great gaps in our knowledge about their current and future survival.
“There are several sites around the island where people can take injured or dead goannas and we are documenting what is affecting their health, what their breeding condition is, and what factors besides vehicle strikes and cat attacks have killed them.”
If you come across a fresh road kill specimen, please collect it, if it is safe to do so, and drop it off at the Natural Resources Centre on Dauncey Street in Kingscote, the visitor centre at Seal Bay Conservation Park, or the visitor centre at Flinders Chase National Park during business hours.
Specimens will be frozen and provided to Dr Rismiller at the Pelican Lagoon Research and Wildlife Centre for research purposes.
Sightings may be reported online at: goannawatch.com.au.
For more information on goannas please visit the Natural Resources Kangaroo Island website: naturalresources.sa.gov.au/kangarooisland/plants-and-animals/native-animals/rosenbergs_goanna.