Tonight, after the storms, was a very still evening in Namadgi and a perfect opportunity to do a little thermal "spotlighting" of a few marsupials. We arrived at Smokers Trail and decided to walk down an old forestry trail to a wide gully with a small un-named creek at the bottom. Lovely area.
How do I know that its an un-named creek? I'll digress enough to promote a map available at the Namadgi Visitors Center. Its called the Rooftop's Namadgi - ACT South Activities Map. For those technical its a 1:50,000 map with 20m contours.
It was also apparently compiled by a bloke that walked every walking track in the Australian Capital Territory with a GPS strapped to his head. It is double sided with the northern half on one side and the southern half on the other.
Anyway everything is marked, roads, tracks, walking trails and places of interest with a brief description. It also has point to point distance markers which is particularly useful. I can't recommend it highly enough but its only available at the visitors center. Cost about $12.
Back on track... I had noticed a few weeks ago pig diggings on the little flat below the Square Rock walking trail car park. I didn't think much of it until I read the TAMS media release on the success of their control program and I thought well not above Corin Forest...
“The latest data reveals that 9.6% of test plots set up in Namadgi showed some evidence of feral pig activity, down from 17.65% in 2008. These results demonstrate a significant and sustained reduction in both pig numbers and impact,”
“Feral pig activity is monitored using 500 plots across Namadgi. The plots measure the amount of impact damage caused by pigs and gives an estimate of the population.
“This long term monitoring and evaluation program, which has been running since the mid-1980s, is essential to Namadgi’s evidence based management of introduced pests. Eradication is not feasible or possible, so control programs aim to achieve a sustained reduction in the damage caused by feral pigs"
It was also reported by ABC News but a much better article was written in The Canberra Times. My thoughts... Well I don't think its a statistic that holds true with observation...
Back to last night... As we approached the creek we stopped in our tracks as a large black pig crossed the narrow track not 10m before us, It was followed a few seconds later by two more pigs. We were rooted to the spot and could hear the vegetation crash and watch it part as they made their way.
Thinking we were in the clear a succession of piglets then emerged to cross also. Two distinct sizes, obviously from different litters. All black except one brown one. Still fine until the final dawdling piglet spots us and starts squealing. At this time we then hear a large pig coming back. Crashing, swaying vegetation. The piglet at this point regained enough composure to run after its mother and meeting up resumed their previous and thankfully different course.
That was on nightfall. And it got me curious...
Later in the evening we decided to take the thermal vision gear to the place I had seen the diggings, the little flat at Square Rock car park where at 10 pm as well as 20 odd Kangaroos was the thermal shapes of at least 4 pigs happily rooting around. Both these locations are 5 or 6 kms apart.
Corin forest is signposted as being baited with 1080. So it must be one of the 500 test plots. From my experiences yesterday I can say that it's not very effective. Perhaps that's why they say "eradication is not feasible or possible". I think the success is over reported, at least around Corin.