Four species still waiting for protection
The four wildlife species that EEG has used to test the governments adherence to the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act are detailed below.
The FFGA states that when a species is listed as threatened, it must have a protection plan, called an Action Statement, written up “as soon as possible”. The legal challenge looks at the interpretation of ‘ASAP’. The Glossy Black Cockatoo for instance has been waiting 18 years for a protection plan! Without one, there is no legal imperative to protect it, or the other 373 species still awaiting a protection plan.
The Long nosed Potoroo (Potorous tridactylus tridactyl)
Listed federally as venerable under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and also as venerable in Victoria under the Wildlife act 1975.
Potoroos, in the family Potoroidae, are small marsupials members of the macropod super-family (which includes wallabies and kangaroos though only a very distant relative of either).
Five species in the Potoroidae family are native to Victoria, three bettong species and two potoroo species, sadly all of the bettong species are locally extinct and the other Potoroo (long footed) endangered.
In Victoria the Long-nosed Potoroo (SE Mainland) occurs in six discrete regions including the South-western region, Grampians, Otways, Western Port, Wilsons Promontory and East Gippsland.
NSW and Queensland populations are equally scattered, extending from south-eastern Queensland through to NSW
Long-nosed Potoroos are solitary, except when females have a young at heel. They breed all year round. The female potoroo carries nesting material with her tail, which is semi-prehensile. A single young is born after a gestation of 37 days. Pouch life is about 100–125 days and sexual maturity achieved at about 12 months with a life expectancy of about 10 years and adults weighing 660-1600g.
Like all Potoroos, fungi are the major component of their diet. The Long-nosed Potoroo is known to consume plants including the flowers, fruit, seeds, leaf, stem, root and bulbs and also known to feed on invertebrates.
Preferred habitat ranges from moderately dry grassy woodland to wet dense scrub under which it forms a system of tracks or ‘runways’. Potoroos are mainly nocturnal, resting during day in nests made of leaves under dense cover which allows it to persist in an otherwise open or patchy habitat. However, it can be affected by the clearing of bush areas, with re-growth forest being less suitable for their needs
Please note:This info refers only to the SE mainland populations and not those found in Tasmania
Large Brown Tree Frog (Litoria littlejohni)
Within Victoria the Large Brown Tree Frog is confined to the portion of East Gippsland between the NSW border and Bruthen. Relatively little is known about the biology of this species, or the likely impact of logging operations on populations.
They are known to breed in a variety of forest water bodies, including fire dams, slow-moving
streams and ponds.
Outside of the breeding season, it is unknown how far away from breeding water bodies the frogs move.
There are very few recent, verified records of this species in Victoria. Most records date from the 1960s to the early 1990s, with the most recent record from 1996. It is not known whether the species has undergone a decline in abundance or distribution since that time.
These is also significant conjecture as to the specific breeding habitats of the species and
in the absence of detailed knowledge regarding the non-breeding habitat use of the species, areas up to at least 1 km from water bodies are known to be occupied and therein treated as potential habitat for the species.
Eastern She-oak Skink (Cyclodomorphus michaeli)
The She Eastern she Oak Skink is a large (up to 180mm), spectacular yet poorly known, secretive and uncommonly collected lizard species from south-eastern Australia.
One of the three described species of She oak skink (one in Tasmania and the other endangered and confined to alpine environments) the Eastern She oak skink has quite a wide geographic distribution. Largely restricted to coastal populations (from south to north: East Gippsland, Eden, Illawarra and Central Coast), one in the Blue Mountains and one other around Barrington tops NP (though this northerly limit is suspected to be inaccurate).
Ovulation occurs in mid/late Spring, gestation takes 2-3 months, and young are born in mid Summer. Juveniles are often either striped or banded and are laid in a litter of around eleven)
The species is considered to be rare and under threat in at least the Victorian part of its range.
Glossy Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami)
One of three recognised subspecies, the eastern glossy black (C. l. lathami ) is found between southeastern Queensland and Mallacoota in Victoria, with isolated pockets in Eungella in central Queensland and the Riverina and Pilliga forest.
The glossy black-cockatoo lives in coastal woodlands and drier forest areas, open inland woodlands or around watercourses where casuarinas (or sheoaks), its main food trees, are common The species has become regionally extinct in parts of western Victoria and south-eastern South Australia.
The glossy black-cockatoo generally prefers to feed from the seeds of mature Casuarina trees. The birds’ presence is often indicated by a layer of cracked cones and fragments that have accumulated under favoured casuarina trees.
A study in Eden, on the south coast of NSW, indicated that the glossy black-cockatoo is selective in its choice of food trees, choosing casuarinas that produce seeds with a high nutrient value. A pair of glossy black-cockatoos may make short visits to various feed trees in a small area, checking the quality of the seeds. Once satisfied, the pair will settle in the one feed tree and harvest all the cones within reach.
Glossy black-cockatoos occasionally eat seeds from eucalypts, angophoras, acacias and hakeas, as well as eating insect larvae. In Central West NSW they also eat the seeds of cypress pine.
Estimates hold that the birds spend at least 88 per cent of their time foraging.
The glossy black-cockatoo prefers to nest in the hollows of large, old eucalypt trees, alive or dead. The typical nest site will be around 3-30 m above the ground, and the nest hollow is generally lined with decayed debris. The birds tend to nest in the same areas as other nesting pairs, sometimes even sharing the same nest tree.
Researchers think that glossy black-cockatoos breed throughout their range. In NSW, breeding takes place from March to August. One egg, white in colour, is produced. In some instances both the male and female parents will feed the chick, and the female will brood the chick overnight. At other times only the female will brood and feed the young.
Since European colonisation, a major threat to the survival of the glossy black-cockatoo is habitat loss – the clearing of casuarina trees in woodland areas, and the loss of mature eucalypts for nest hollows.