Kakadu’s feral cat experiment

Caption

A baby ringtail possum captured during mammal monitoring

Caption

The new cat-proof fence closed today

There was excitement in the air today as a team of people from Parks Australia, NT Government and Charles Darwin Uni along with traditional owners, students and volunteers drove large animals  out of a cat-proof area in Kakadu National Park near Kapalga – and closed the gates.

It’s all part of an intensive effort to better understand what role feral cats play in the decline of small mammals across northern Australia.

This is the second Kakadu area to be fenced off — each larger than 50 football fields in size. The clever design prevents cats from entering but allows small native animals to continue to move through the area unrestricted.

While the cat exclosures are not a long term solution to small mammal decline in the north, the project will help us understand how species recover when the predators are not around.  The exclosures will all be  monitored by state-of-the-art motion sensor cameras, which have proven very successful in other remote area research projects like Pulu Keeling.

Survey work in Kakadu identified that there is small mammal decline across the Top End. Kakadu is now actively carrying out several research projects like this one to understand what is going on and how we can stop the decline.

This research is funded by the Australian Government’s National Environmental Research Program.

Anne, Parks Australia

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