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Type: Thesis
Title: Understanding the causes of human-wombat conflict and exploring non-lethal damage mitigation strategies for the southern hairy-nosed wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons)
Author: O'Brien, Casey
Issue Date: 2019
School/Discipline: School of Biological Sciences
Abstract: Human–wildlife conflict is a widespread and growing threat to conservation worldwide. It encompasses a wide range of problems and negatively impacts a large diversity of species, with far-reaching environmental, social, economic, political, health, and safety outcomes. Effective conflict management requires an integrative approach, encompassing the ecological and human aspects of the problem. For many species like the southern hairy-nosed wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons), there is insufficient data to make informed and effective conflict management decisions. Conflicts between L. latifrons and the agricultural sector have been ongoing for decades, because of damage caused by their burrowing behaviour. Culling is used to manage damages, but it fails to provide long-term relief from conflict and raises ethical and conservation concerns. Landholders have expressed support for the development of non-lethal damage mitigation strategies in the past, but little research has been done to quantify the effectiveness of such measures. This thesis investigates landholder perceptions of human–wombat conflict and assesses the effectiveness of potential non-lethal damage mitigation techniques, to improve L. latifrons management. The perceptions of landholders living throughout the range of L. latifrons were surveyed using a mail questionnaire. Survey questions aimed to gather a variety of information on landholder opinions of L. latifrons, the causes and costs of damage and the species’ management. Surveys distributed by mail in the Murraylands received a 3.2% (n = 122), response rate, while those distributed at wombat workshops in the Far West received an estimated 41.0% (n = 33) response rate. Of the respondents with L. latifrons on their properties, 81.2% reported damage, mainly as a result of burrowing. Despite this, there is strong support for L. latifrons conservation, though support decreased among respondents with L. latifrons present and those who were financially dependent on their properties. To improve management, many respondents suggested the development of alternative non-lethal management options, such as translocation. Translocation provides the opportunity to reduce conflicts while restoring declining populations of L. latifrons. Animals were translocated from conflict zones to a private grazing property where the species had declined following a drought. GPS and VHF monitoring revealed translocated L. latifrons displayed high site fidelity, though they initially ranged further than their resident counterparts. However, animals were difficult to capture and translocation failed to reduce conflicts, as neighbouring L. latifrons quickly recolonised vacated burrows. These findings indicate translocation is not suitable for reducing human–wombat conflict, but it may prove useful for restoring declining populations of L. latifrons. Deterrents may be a more cost-effective and efficient means of reducing human-wombat conflict. The effectiveness of four treatments for deterring free-living L. latifrons from their burrows was assessed: dingo (Canis lupus dingo) urine; dingo faeces; blood and bone (Brunnings Pty Ltd); and compact discs (CDs). Remote cameras monitored L. latifrons behaviour before and after the treatments were applied. The number of visits to burrows decreased significantly following the application of CDs. No other treatments deterred L. latifrons. This research suggests that visual cues may be more effective than olfactory ones in deterring L. latifrons. However, responses to threats can be context dependent. Further research into the use of deterrents in different contexts is needed to gain a better understanding of how L. latifrons detect and respond to threats.
Advisor: Taggart, David
Sparrow, Elisa
Ostendorf, Bertram
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Biological Sciences, 2019
Keywords: Human-wildlife conflict
wildlife management
Lasiorhinus latifrons
Provenance: This electronic version is made publicly available by the University of Adelaide in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. This thesis may incorporate third party material which has been used by the author pursuant to Fair Dealing exceptions. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material you wish to be removed from this electronic version, please complete the take down form located at:
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