Protecting vulnerable land from high wallaby densities

Protecting vulnerable land from high wallaby densities

Fri, 18/07/2014 - 10:00 to 11:00

About the Presenter

Dr Miguel Bedoya-Perez, originally from Venezuela in South America, completed his honours thesis in 2007 at the University Simón Bolívar. His research was focused on the behavioural ecology and reproduction of Capybaras, the largest rodent species in the world.

From 207 to 2008, he became a research assistant in the Experimental Ecology Laboratory at the University Simón Bolívar and was involved in the Natural Geography in Shore Areas (NaGISA) project, framed within the Census of Marine Life (CoML) worldwide Initiative.

He moved to Australia in 2009 to pursue a PhD at the University of Sydney on the foraging ecology of swamp wallabies, which he completed in 2013.

In October 2013 he joined RIEL as a research fellow tasked to estimate the impacts of Agile Wallabies to pastoral land in the north.

He has been involved in varies research projects in Australia and overseas; with a special emphasis in conducting field work and laboratory research with a wide variety of taxa and ecosystems: from South American capybaras in seasonally flooded savannahs, Australian possums and macropods in Eucalypt woodland, sea turtles and intertidal communities in the Caribbean sea, to endangered frog in river corridors. 


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Conflict between Top End producers and high densities of agile wallabies on pastoral land has been ongoing for decades. However, an agile wallaby management plan has never been developed. In May 2012 Charles Darwin University (CDU) researchers were approached by pastoralists to develop a research program to devise an agile wallaby management plan for the Top End. Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) has funded a 1 year scoping project aimed to estimate the scale of the problem.

This project is stage 1 of a proposed three stages (over 5 years), with the final objective of developing and applying a stakeholder supported agile wallaby management plan. The project focuses on the impacts of high density agile wallaby populations on pastoral land in the Top End (Douglas-Daly, Adelaide River), Katherine (Mataranka, Victoria River District), and Sturt Plateau regions, in collaboration with pastoralists, Landcare and other associations. By combining field-based ecological surveys and social studies, this project has and continues to grasp the magnitude of the agile wallaby population eruption and its consequences, both form a socio-economic and ecologic perspective.

"On some pastoral properties wallaby densities are 100 times greater (>600 animals km-2) than the natural density. Properties with improved pastures are most severely affected by wallabies. High density wallaby populations cause environmental degradation, significantly increase production costs (e.g. labour and fencing costs), and ultimately affect farm viability. The impact of wallabies on farm production is perceived by farmers to have almost doubled since 2004. In 2004 the cost of wallaby control and lost income in the Top End alone was $1.95 mil."

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