What a fun Monday we had at the beautiful Hawkesbury campus of Western Sydney University.
The students explored modern-day wildlife research with three very fun activities run by the actual wildlife research students.
Turtle Nests and Fox Damage
Unfortunately, the introduction of the red fox in the mid-1800’s has not been good news for Australian wildlife. Foxes cause significant losses to turtles as they eat both adult turtles and dig up nests to eat the turtle eggs.
This activity gave the students a look at how researchers are using conservation methods to protect turtles and their nests. First we have to know where there are turtles and nest sites, so we look for nest near waterways and dams.
The students had to search for nests and found a number of destroyed nests with broken eggshells and dead turtle shells that had been preyed on by foxes *.
Although a little bit brutal, it got them really thinking about the reality of life for our little turtles and the danger they face on land from foxes as well as other predators like cats and dogs and the dangers of road traffic.
* No actual turtles or turtle eggs were harmed in this exercise although the turtle shells used were from Victorian sites where they had been attacked by foxes previously. The eggshells were chicken eggs that the researchers used to demonstrate. Sneaky huh!
Have you seen a turtle out and about? Log your sighting on TurtleSAT and help scientists save our precious turtles…
Tracking Wildlife Chocolate
To demonstrate how researchers track animals for monitoring their health and locations, the students used radio antennae to try to locate a hidden animal lurking on campus.
With these antennae, the students had to find the strongest signal indicated by loud beeps and slowly head towards the sound. Imagine how hard this is if the animal you are tracking runs away when it hears you!
Lucky for us, the group was actually tracking a packet of choccies with a collar in it. Yum, chocolate for everyone!
Snakes And Reptiles Always A Sure-Fire Crowd Pleaser!
When we have the University’s annual Open Day, hordes of people head over to hold the reptiles. This was also a hugely popular activity that the students just loved – holding these beautiful animals.
This is so important because many people’s first reaction on seeing a lizard is to try to kill it out of fear of being poisonous. Unless we educate people that most reptiles are best left right alone, then we pose a great danger to them as well as ourselves.
The University’s reptiles have been bred and raised around people and are not at all worried by big crowds.
Thanks to everyone from Western Sydney University, Inspiring Australia, South Penrith Public School and all the participants for being awesome!