CO2 Australia are fortunate enough to participate in a wide range of ecological assessments across the country, from those contributing to establishment of biodiversity offsets to those involving targeted threatened species and pest animal monitoring.
From a recent threatened species survey on a central Queensland property – impacted by bushfire a number of months prior, CO2 Ecologists Dr Jarrad Cousin and Andrew Dawson were elated to confirm photographic evidence of the presence of the highly elusive yakka skink (Egernia rugosa). The image was captured from a motion-triggered camera trap focused on a ‘bait tube’ filled with strong smelling attractant, which draws in inquisitive animals. The images confirmed the presence not only of adult yakka skinks, but rarely seen juveniles of the species!
The yakka skink is listed as vulnerable under both the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992. Around the same size as a blue tongue lizard, the yakka skink is an extremely secretive species, often found in family groups hiding under rocks, in hollow logs, or in burrow systems in a variety of dry sclerophyll forest, woodland and scrub ecosystems across parts of eastern Queensland.
Across the species’ range, the yakka skink has suffered a considerable decline in distribution and abundance, with a large proportion of their habitat continuing to be threatened by habitat loss and degradation. Other threats include inappropriate roadside management and removal of microhabitat such as logs, and even feral animal predation by foxes and feral cats.
In identifying this property and facilitating the establishment of a biodiversity offset, CO2 Australia has ensured the protection of critical habitat for the yakka skink and other threatened and non-threatened species including the black-headed python – Aspidites melanocephalus, identified from the same camera!
All camera trapping was undertaken in accordance with a scientific purposes permit and animal ethics approval issued to CO2 Australia by the Queensland Government.