“The teams were so successful we have decided to run more teams in 2011 and to bring families into the mix so that children can experience what real field science is all about with their parents,” said Earthwatch executive director Richard Gilmore.
Bandicoot research teams will work on nominated days between April 2 and June 2. A family weekend for children aged 10 and over will run on April 15 to 17.
Teams of volunteers, led by wildlife ecologist Nelika Hughes, use scent lures to attract and then film bandicoot predators on hidden cameras throughout North Head Sanctuary. GPS are used to locate and collect cameras, record habitats and analyse footage captured.
Last year volunteers discovered a range of predators - rats, cats and dogs - as well as blue-tongue lizards, brushtail and ringtail possums, eastern water dragons and a total of 15 long-nosed bandicoots. An echidna was also spotted; a surprise, given there has only been one sighting on the headlands before.
“So far the research has shown that surprisingly black rats are active during the day as well as at night, bandicoots and brushtail possums only during hours of darkness and cats and dogs only during the day,” said Ms Hughes.
Bandicoots were abundant throughout Sydney until the 1960s. Since then, their numbers have declined dramatically because of habitat loss due to urban development and the effects of cars and introduced predators. It is estimated there are only 80 long-nosed bandicoots remaining in the area.
The research project is designed to deepen the understanding of how feral predators affect threatened native animals living within urban landscapes. The findings will enable conservation managers to develop predator control strategies and community education programs, to ensure the long-term survival of the bandicoot.
Joining a "Bandicoots on the Brink‟ team cost $49 for a fulfilling day learning about conservation and contributing to your local community. The money goes towards future valuable conservation research.
Volunteers are needed from 8.30am to 5pm on April 2, 7, 12, 21 and 26, May 7, 12, 21 and 26, and June 2.