Endangered Coastal Emu Protection Project

The 2023/2024 Hawke’s Landcare Community Grants supports the ‘Endangered Coastal Emu Protection’ project in Clarence Valley, NSW. This project aims to increase the coastal emu population by building on the Maclean Lions Club Environmental Group’s and Clarence Valley Landcare’s efforts in raising community awareness and taking direct action protecting the species. The three-year project focuses on implementing a sustained management program for improved long-term Emu breeding and feral animal control. It engages private landowners, including sugarcane and beef farms and public land managers, to raise awareness of threats to the emu population and control feral pigs, which have a documented impact.

The coastal emu in NSW is classified as an endangered population under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act with less than 50 coastal emus having been reported, which are a genetically distinct Emu from western emus. Increased feral pig control in the Taloumbi/Brooms Head area is crucial to reducing the impacts on the coastal emu’s breeding cycle, leading to more successful breeding clutches. Reducing feral pig numbers also has a positive environmental outcome by minimising soil disturbance from ground rooting, benefiting both agricultural properties and conservation areas. The emu population in the NSW North Coast Bioregion is of significant conservation value as the last known population in northern coastal NSW. These Emu’s also play a vital role in maintaining our native landscape by dispersing large seeds of native plant species over long distances.

Clarence Landcare Program Manager, Debbie Repschlager said, “This is an exciting new project for Clarence Landcare, we get to do what we do best and that is to develop partnerships with organisations and engage the local community to work on ground toward a common goal. In this case, it is for the protection of the Endangered Coastal Emu. We are looking forward to developing our new working relationship with Hawkes Brewing who have engaged us to develop and manage this project. “

The first strategic meeting was held in February 2024 and brought together Yaegl Local Aboriginal Council, Clarence Landcare, Clarence Cane Growers Association, Clarence Valley Experience (Banyula), Lions Club of Clarence – Environmental, North Coast Regional Landcare Network, Sky Lola (Drone Operator), NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), Dept of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) (Saving our Species), Clarence Valley Council and Local Lands Services (LLS) to start developing and planning the coordinated management plan. This strategy will focus on effective control options, which will be showcased to the wider community through a field day. The event will not only showcase achievements but also spread awareness through demonstrations.

The targeted monitoring and reduction of feral pig numbers will not only improve the chances of successful Coast Emu breeding cycles but also reduce land disturbance and the transport of weeds in the Clarence Valley. The project will utilise an infrared drone to help identify feral pig groups and assist in locating coastal emu groups, koalas, and other local wildlife to support the on-ground efforts.

The project aims to engage private landholders in raising awareness about threats to the emu population and involve them in controlling feral pigs. Landholders will play a key role in reporting and monitoring feral pigs, setting and checking camera traps, and using bait stations or pig traps. The project will enhance knowledge and communication among landholders regarding feral pig management. Additionally, it seeks to encourage community reporting of pigs through ‘FeralScan’, a feral animal mapping app. Collaboration between stakeholders, will ensure up-to-date information on the feral pig situation and improve coordination to deliver effective control efforts.

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