Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife wants to install motion-sensing cameras, a thermal camera and flashing-light fox deterrents
Wednesday 2 September 2015
Conservationists want to install motion-sensing cameras and fox-deterring lights at the last mainland penguin colony in New South Wales, after a fox killed 27 of the endangered birds in just 11 days.
In June, a fox discovered the colony of little penguins in the Sydney suburb of Manly, resulting in carnage. There were just 60 breeding pairs in the colony before the attacks.
The fox thought responsible was subsequently shot. It had evaded various traps to infiltrate the colony.
The Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife, which has helped fund volunteers and nest boxes for the penguins since 1999, now wants to install new technology to thwart further fox attacks.
The group is seeking $20,000 to install 20 motion-sensing cameras, a thermal camera to detect the body heat of predators and five fox deterrents that emit bright flashing lights. It will also buy a further 10 nesting boxes to help the penguins rebuild their population.
The penguin colony was declared endangered in 1997. Foxes, dogs and urban development have wiped out other penguin populations in NSW, with only a few island-based groups left. Manly is the last mainland penguin location in the state.
Monitoring of the colony shows that it had been in decent health – the 2013-14 breeding season was successful with 174 eggs laid and 146 chicks emerging.
Little penguins are found only in southern Australia and New Zealand. They are less than 40cm tall and weigh just 1kg, but have razor-sharp beaks and can provide a nasty nip to people who flout the law by trying to pick them up.
“The tragedy of the fox attack makes this fundraising extremely important,” said Susanna Bradshaw, the foundation’s chief executive.
“This is the only mainland breeding colony left in NSW and I think the people of Manly have a sense of ownership over them. We want to reach out to the local community to help.”
The foundation has launched a fundraising page for the defence of the penguin colony.