Fauna Handling Course at Charles Darwin Reserve

Central Region TAFE recently held a seven day fauna handling course at Charles Darwin Reserve in collaboration with Bush Heritage and the Conservation Council of WA.

The purpose of the training was to familiarize students with a range of different trapping techniques from pitfall traps to mist nets, and handling a range of different animal taxa including reptiles, small mammals and birds.

The course – supported by NACC, through funding from the Australian Government – was developed to providing students with a unique set of skills with a direct link to conservation work being undertaken within the Midwest region and more broadly throughout Australia.

Personal account from Margaret Tyler (BCMI Student)

Recently I and other students from the Batavia Coast Maritime Institute (BCMI) in Geraldton attended a fauna handling course at Bush Heritage’s Charles Darwin Nature Reserve.

This experience was unforgettable. The early starts and late nights were rewarded by beautiful sunrises and sunsets over a backdrop of regenerated natural bushlands. The species diversity of both flora and fauna on the reserve was a real treat for the eyes.

The accommodation and facilities were clean and comfortable, a home away from home, and a real credit to Bush Heritage and Reserve Manager Fiona Stewart and Executive Manager West Luke Bayley who made us feel right at home from the first day.

When asked what my most memorable moment of the course was I had a hard time coming up with just one. Would it be the experience of watching students and myself hold scary snakes and other reptiles? Or maybe just overcoming fears that people have about the slimy, flying, furry and feathery fauna that we came in contact with? The choices are endless and hard to choose.

I do have one funny moment that I would love to share, and it involves Dunnart wrestling………. Yes, you heard me right. One of the nights while bird tagging, Nic Dunlop and my fellow students spotted a Fat Tailed Dunnart (Sminthopsis crassicaudata) in the clearing and raced to catch the small 3cm high marsupial, rolling and tumbling through the prickly landscape. Even I almost went for a dive before realising I had a handful of bags with finches in them. Everyone across the site must have been laughing hard, as head torches frantically zipped in all directions.

I am pleased to report that the Dunnart was wrestled, processed and returned to its natural habitat safely.

I was quite pleasantly surprised that I found a high personal interest in bird tagging where I thought I would be more interested in other types of fauna. Discussions with other students found that they too had expectations before commencing the course on where their interest would lie and finished the course with a completely different area of curiosity and confidence.

The knowledge passed on to us from experts Ben Parkhurst, Dr Nic Dunlop and Kate Born was diverse, interesting and easy to comprehend. Thank you to them all for their expertise, understanding and a whole lot of patience.

A big thank you to Central Regional TAFE and BCMI for organising the course and offering students such an incredible opportunity.

I must also add a huge thank you to Central Regional TAFE’s hospitality students for the abundance of pre-prepared meals that made life so much easier for us all, kept our bellies extremely full and was so totally delicious!!

Thank you to Bush Heritage and the team for your wonderful hospitality.

Last but not least a major thank you to NACC for their support. Thank You.

I can’t recommend highly enough for anyone with an interest in fauna, or even if you’re not so sure and would like to gain confidence with fauna handling, to contact Central Regional TAFE’s BCMI Campus (bcmi@crtafe.wa.edu.au, 9956 6175) and enquire into enrolling in the Certificate III in Conservation and Land Management which includes the fauna handling; I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

1 comment

So well written and informative. This article written by Margaret Anne Tyler has me wanting to understand more of my love for the bush and its creatures. Love it really.

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