From its beginnings, the volunteers underpinning Malleefowl Monarto have envisaged each of their efforts as being integral component parts of a comprehensive long term strategy. That strategy is to secure the success of malleefowl in the Monarto South area – the most westerly habitat in relation to the River Murray in South Australia.
An anticipated significant milestone toward that goal is the development of a Research Sanctuary in this area. Its purposes are to:-
secure feral free lands for malleefowl habitat
provide a destination for public involvement, education and sighting of malleefowl in open range circumstance
provide resources for on-going research into malleefowl survival, targeting the species, its habitat and predators – contributing to the work already being done elsewhere toward developing both the national communal perspective and the unique local circumstance.
As detailed in this web site, the core malleefowl habitat comprises about 35 sq km comprising 2 publicly held Conservation Parks and private lands where malleefowl already reside.
The Research Sanctuary is envisaged on the northern end of this habitat area. There, good public access from the South Eastern Freeway is available. Several existing mature bushland areas there in private hands can be secured toward secure, feral free and dedicated use.
From its beginnings, the volunteers underpinning Malleefowl Monarto have conceptualised such a Research Sanctuary as integral to this volunteer organisation’s goals. This has then driven each of the sequential activities described below, heading toward this goal.
The total concept is being pursued in a staged way of discrete projects, building on the past activities. The stages are:
1. An initial secured feral free area of 100ha area of mature mallee land is being examined. This is being evolved in a collaboration with: the landowner, local volunteers, approaches to the Rural City of Murray Bridge, Monarto Zoological Park, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board and others.
The target is to have the land area secured complete with on-going management, feral control perimeter fence and eradication program, food plant program, secure limited managed people access facility and management, seed malleefowl population.
As noted below, preparatory works in terms of physical works proposals, budget proposals and collaborator conversations and in-principle commitments are already in hand with Malleefowl Monarto.
2. The concept extends then to a logical expansion to the neighbouring 200ha area of mature and regrowth mallee lands. While this land area is seen as developed in form similar to Area 1, this land parcel has existing built facilities. This is a former goat farm in the 1980s, with shedding, transportable building and brick farmhouse. These lend themselves to redevelopment for research and public outreach: laboratory, accommodation, administration and public display. This base is suited to further evolution into the future.
3. The strategy has already begun to examine the existing synergies between the farming landholders in the area toward longer term further expansion beyond these core areas 1 and 2 southward into further land revegetation lands.
4. The strategy also has a place for longer term re-establishment of physical links westward, by underpass and aerial bridge works, to the mature mallee of the existing Monarto Conservation Park and adjacent private revegetation lands there.
Malleefowl Preservation Group (MPG) in Western Australia has over a number decades grown its malleefowl activities including the research centre and aviary developed in Ongerup.
Malleefowl Monarto has implemented one of the largest malleefowl surveys undertaken on private land in the past few years. Around 500 ha of land between Ferries MacDonald and Monarto Conservation parks was traversed and both active and old mounds were located and mapped. Recording equipment was provided by the SA Department of Environment and Heritage and volunteers from Birds SA and the Strathalbyn Field Naturalists Society undertook the legwork.
Each year the Eastern Hills & Murray Plains Catchment Group awards a best project of the year from the sixty or so projects that are undertaken for the year. In 2012 Malleefowl Monarto received the award for their work in undertaking the malleefowl survey.
Malleefowl Habitat Enhancement
In 2012 Members of Malleefowl Monarto participated in an effort to improve the local habitat by planting over 2000 known malleefowl food plants. Selection of local species was assisted by State Flora and the Department for Environment and Heritage. The effort was joined by several local residents from the immediate area who planted out in mixed lots of fifty. The project was supported by funds from the State NRM Community Grants.