Campbell Jones, a farmer in the Wyalkatchem area, contacted me after he had seen an article in the Farmers Weekly about the work that the Healthy Bushland team (WWF, Wheatbelt NRM and Greening Australia WA), was doing to help a Bencubbin farmer restore some habitat around a family of western spiny-tailed skinks.
Campbell had previously recorded populations of the endangered western spiny-tailed skink on his property and contacted me to see if we could help with some fencing, restoration and revegetation around them.
I spent a day with Campbell looking around his property and showing him how to read the signs that western spiny-tailed skinks are present without an actual sighting, looking for scats up on piles of timber or tin and the classic latrine near their homes. We looked at some fencing that would keep the stock out of an area that we knew skinks were in and also some areas to revegetate. All in all a great day.
A week later Campbell called again, concerned about a wood pile that was in an area on his property that they had built a feed lot in. They were about to burn the wood pile when Campbell looked at it with fresh eyes and spotted skink scats everywhere.
After some talks with the Department of Environment and Conservation it was decided an emergency relocation was the best course of action.
So two weeks ago, with all the permits ok’d we converged on the site. We started carefully pulling apart the wood pile piece by piece. It seemed like we had only just started when the first call went up, “there’s one” and then another and then another. The excitement rose as we began to find babies as well.
Ten western spiny-tailed skinks in all, three adult and seven beautiful little babies. These were all carefully boxed and taken to a sheltered area to be micro chipped, weighed and measured before they were returned to their new home.
So while those that were qualified and some that were just interested attended to the western spiny-tailed skinks, the others set about reconstructing their home in a lovely sheltered spot in some nearby bush.
The skinks were all released safely, with their new microchips in place that will allow monitoring now and in the future – monitoring that will hopefully give us some answers about the unknown behaviours of these amazing little critters.
Nearly two weeks since the relocation, and several adult and juvenile western spiny-tailed skinks have already been recorded on sensor camera!
A huge thank you to all those who helped!
- Campbell Jones, property owner
- Rob Harvey, friend of above
- James Haberfield, Veterinarian from the Balcatta Veterinary Hospital
- Natasha Moore, Central Wheatbelt Department of Environment and Conservation
- Mick Davis and Sue Carter, Wheatbelt NRM inc.
- Judd Davis and Brandon Colbung, Nyungar Trainees, Wheatbelt NRM Inc.
- Anne Smith and Julia Murphy, Greening Australia WA
- Mike Griffiths, WWF-Australia