Fitzsimons Fences for Future of Gnow

This month NACC NRM’s Bushcare Officer Jarna Kendle was able to escape her home office and head out into the field to catch up with Buntine farmer Shaun Fitzsimons to sign off his Malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata) project, all while adhering to social distancing rules.

Shaun and his partner Rebecca recently installed new fencing on their Buntine property to protect the Malleefowl that call the area home. Their project has protected a massive 223 hectares of remnant vegetation on the property. In the Northern Agricultural Region there are many pressures on Malleefowl habitat, such as altered fire regimes, weed incursion, overgrazing, salinity and land clearing.

Ms Kendle said Shaun and Rebecca’s property is an ideal location for Malleefowl protection and this project has helped to protect the remaining vegetation for this purpose.

“The property is close to the Buntine Nature Reserve which is home to a well-known Malleefowl population and the Mallee and Melaleuca vegetation that occurs on Shaun’s farm is fantastic Malleefowl habitat,” said Ms Kendle.

Mr Fitzsimons said he and his partner hope the threatened species will be able to live happily on their farm long into the future.

“We know Malleefowl have previously used this section of bushland and we have even located a mound,” Mr Fitzsimons said.

Malleefowl are megapods – meaning ‘large foot’ – and these incredible birds build enormous mounds over a metre high and four metres wide, with their enormous feet. The mound is filled with leaf litter, generating heat as it decomposes. This temperature is regulated by the male who adds and removes material to keep the temperature optimal for incubation.

It’s a full time job and the monogamous pair can spend up to 300 days of the year, lovingly tending to their mound. However, little attention is paid to the emerging chicks who are on their own from the moment they hatch.

If you would like to know more about this project or find out if you are eligible for an incentive, please contact NACC NRM’s Bushcare Officer Jarna Kendle.

This project has been made possible with funding from the Australian National Landcare Program supported by NACC NRM.

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