Grant makes the hard work of rabbit control easier

When Dr Suzanne Wiebkin first saw the banksias flowering on a 101 hectare block of pristine bush in Padthaway, she fell in love with it.

Dr Suzanne Wiebkin at her family’s property in Padthaway; photo V Messmer

Now she loves the whole Limestone Coast property, including the uncommon and vulnerable species like the sword mat rush (Lomandra sororia), prickly guinea flower (Hibbertia incana), blue tinsel lily (Calectasia intermedia), red-necked wallabies and red-tailed black-cockatoos.

Since purchasing it 15 years ago, she and her husband have taken care of this piece of paradise, sharing it with many others, adults and children alike, from those who have never camped or experienced nature before to orchid specialists. Each has gone away with a greater appreciation for nature, the bush and the plants and animals that call it home.

Over the years, Sue and her husband have had many wildlife experiences on the property. The most memorable was when a resident sugar glider mistook Sue’s husband’s leg for a tree when he was outside their tent in the middle of the night. Fortunately, neither was worse off after the encounter! 

This Heritage Agreement property, purchased from Nature Foundation’s Bushbank program, contains high quality and biodiverse habitat with more than 200 species and eight vegetation associations. 

Over the years, their main conservation focus has been rabbit control. They recently received a Revitalising Private Conservation in SA grant and have commenced a year-long integrated pest-management program. Over six days in May they walked the entire property, carrying out Phostoxin fumigation of every rabbit warren they could find – all 250 of them! Two more rounds are planned.

In July they will contract a local farmer to use innovative rodenator technology. Operated from the back of a utility, a 30m cable will pump a mixture of gases into a warren which is then ignited to implode it. They will also release RHDV1K5 virus later in the year.

“The benefits of what we’re doing, dealing with some of the pests, will reduce soil erosion and improve vegetation, making it a better space for native flora and fauna to thrive. It’s one of the only local habitat for the sugar gliders and it’s a safe haven for the kangaroos and wallabies. It’s not safe for them on the neighbouring agricultural properties,” says Dr Suzanne Wiebkin.

“Receiving the grant will help us get on top of the rabbit numbers. The funding also provides motivation: you’re obliged to do the work and report on it. That means you have to collate the data and that helps you see the benefits of what you’re doing.”

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