Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The wild wild west

This is the second of two parts.
See Part 1 here: Native wildlife

Non-native (introduced) wildlife of the Western Downs (Queensland, Australia)
The words used to describe introduced/non-native animals eg “feral”, “pest”, “noxious”, “vermin” or “invasive” are usually negative and non-complimentary. I wonder if we applied the same to ourselves in this country of immigrants... This also fails to acknowledge that we immigrants are responsible for the introduction of these animals here. We brought them here, and are therefore responsible for their welfare. There are now non-indigenous animals in Australia that have been here generations. Some species (h. Sapiens) came from Europe, others from Asia and elsewhere, as the anthem goes: ‘from all the lands on earth we come’. 
But this is about wildlife- right.

Some species were initially introduced intentionally or accidentally as wild species: rabbits, foxes, cane toads, rats and mice. Still others are domesticated animals which have escaped or were abandoned: cats, dogs, pigs, goats, horses, donkeys, camels, buffalo and carp. We cannot feature them all here. There's not enough space - no photos really. I have pictures of that wild species homo sapiens, but you know what they look like.

Wild animals cause damage to the natural environment and to agriculture and vegetation. They degrade the land, cause soil erosion, feed on most of the available plant species including pasture species. They destroy crops and pasture, as well as habitat for native plants and animals. They spread environmental weeds and could transmit and spread exotic diseases. They ringbark trees and shrubs, foul waterholes, and compete with native wildlife.
Who are these pests? It's amazing that they do exactly as the natives do!
Yes, when in roam...

Camels are not native to Australia but are perfectly suited to the Outback environment. Australia's wild camel population is the biggest in the world.  
Once I travelled miles and miles to near Miles for work. Then I walked 47 miles of barbed wire. Marty, who do you kid? Okay, maybe it was 47 miles of pipelines- alright, maybe just one mile, but "I'd walk a mile for a Camel!"
Hey Cam. Pleased to meet you.
I met this flock at a floodway on Sherwood Road near Condamine. 

Camels were imported to provide transport through inland and outback Australia, and they have since made it their domain. They were used for riding and to supply goods to remote mines and settlements. Camels don't need roads and don't need to be shod like horses.

They are ideal as draught and pack animals (grown bulls like Cam here can carry up to 600kg) and were used for exploration and construction of rail and telegraph lines. Camels were integral to the construction of the overland telegraph line from Adelaide to Darwin, the transcontinental railway and the Canning stock route among other big projects.   

Cam and Mel trying to trick me with a 2-headed camel.
Feral camels have no natural predators in Australia and can live in the wild for as long as 40–50 years. Feral camels have some value as a resource. There is a pet-meat trade and a smaller camel meat trade for export for human consumption.

Feral camels are the only large browser in Australia. Camels damage trees and shrubs when browsing and can severely defoliate preferred trees, shrubs, and vines.

Feral pigs are environmental and agricultural pests. Domestipigwere broughto Australia athtimoEuropean settlement as a foosource. Initiallythpigthaescapeowere allowetwandeThey spread rapidly mainly alonwatercourses and floodplains —Today, there's more wild pigs than there are humans, up t23.5 million feral pigs are spread across about halothcontinent.
Many creeks in Bundi (west of Wandoan) hold a bit of water and tend to swell with significant rainfall. This pig met its fate near a small bridge at Horse Creek.

Feral pigs are not found in the dry inland becausthey neeto drink daily.  In howeatherthey are usually founnear  water.

This was somewhere along a stretch of Chinchilla-Tara Road between Condamine River (at Chinchilla weir) and Wambo Creek.

Pigs breed like rabbits and can increase a populatioby more than 80 pecent eacyear in ideal conditions. Feral pigs cause damage througwallowing, rooting for food and selective feeding.

Text Box: BIO57.0610
The feral European rabbit is one of the most widely distributed and abundant mammals in Australia. Domesticaterabbits arrived in Australia witthFirst FleetToday, feral rabbitoccur throughout Australia, except in thnorthernmost areas. Theprevent regeneratiobeatinseeds anseedlings.  

On a section of Burunga Lane near Guluguba and Wandoan.
Feral rabbithavcontributetthe decline in numberof many nativplants and animals, and may havcausethextinctiooseveral small ground-dwelling mammals of Australias arid lands. They are night-time grazers, preferring green grass anherbs. They also dibelow grasseto reacroots anseeds

Deer were introduced into Australia from Europe in the 19th century as game animals. Populations are expanding and deer are invading new areas. Feral deer can have major impacts in parks and reserves by destroying native vegetation by trampling plants and grazing. Red deer prefer open habitat and grassy glades in forests. I have seen them in the wild but I don't have a photo of feral deer. But here's one I prepared earlier, from a deer hunt from a deer farm.
Red and rusa deer in a deer farm in Mt Samson.
Other feral animals in the great south land are goat, horse (brumby), water buffalo, european red fox, wild cat, wild dog. All these animals 
have been brought into Australia from somewhere else in the world.
I encountered a cheeky little red fox off the Kogan-Condamine Road once, but everytime i tried getting closer for a photo, it would run off to the bushes. 
As for the others, I'll keep my eyes peeled. There's always a chance of spotting ferals in the jungles of Brisbane. And if I cannot take a photo, well it's 
not the picture, but the face-to-face.
Happy huntin'. And do as the roamers do!
Now, about that murder that I saw...

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