Research by sea turtle experts in Australia suggests that it is highly probable that sea turtle egg loss due to predation by European red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and recreational vehicle traffic on beaches has exceeded the sustainable level of loss for the Western Australian loggerhead population. On the Ningaloo Coast, about 1 in 1,000 – 2,000 sea turtle hatchlings survive to sexual maturity, which for Loggerhead turtles may take 30 years or more. Before the Gnaraloo Feral Animal Control Program (GFACP) was introduced at Gnaraloo in 2008, up to 100% of sea turtle nests were predated by foxes in parts of the Gnaraloo Bay Rookery. Work under the GFACP has resulted in 100% protection of sea turtle nests from feral predation in the Gnaraloo Bay Rookery during the annual turtle nesting periods in 2010/11 – 2015/16. This saved over 230,000 eggs of endangered loggerhead turtle from feral animal predation.
The Spinifex Hopping-mouse (Notomys alexis) is an indicator of biodiversity health. Sightings of this species have been recorded at Gnaraloo on two occasions on a single night during February 2013 and four occasions during a five day survey period in November 2011.
The research and data collected by the GFACP are provided to Government agencies (State and Australian) who are responsible for decision-making on environmental protection and conservation, universities (country wide) and made publicly available.
To view the annual reports of the GFACP since 2008/09, choose from the list of reports on the right.
The Gnaraloo Feral Animal Control Program (GFACP) protects the coastal nesting rookeries of endangered sea turtles at Gnaraloo through minimizing feral animal predation of turtle eggs and hatchlings by European red fox (Vulpes vulpes), feral cats and wild dogs. The program increases biodiversity values and outcomes station wide to protect native fauna, such as small to medium sized mammals, marsupials, ground nesting birds, reptiles and insects, from predation and extinction by feral pest animals, including around the inland Lake MacLeod wetland system with significant migratory bird populations listed under various international conventions that has been proposed for Ramsar listing. It also protects pastoral stock.
Sea turtle species are at threat of extinction globally. Loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and green (Chelonia mydas) turtles are listed as endangered and hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbrictata) turtles as critically endangered. The loggerhead turtle populations in Australia are linked to and support global loggerhead populations as loggerheads are migratory and move across vast distances across oceans to mature, mate, feed, rest and reproduce. To reproduce, sea turtles come ashore on beaches in various countries to dig nests and lay eggs. Australia has two genetically distinct loggerhead populations: in Eastern Australia and Western Australia. The work by Gnaraloo to protect the turtle nesting areas helps to ensure the survival of the turtle eggs and hatchlings.
The Gnaraloo Feral Animal Control Program commenced in 2008 with on-ground work undertaken by a specialist licensed pest control company, namely Animal Pest Management Services
The Gnaraloo Turtle Conservation Program (GTCP) independently assesses and monitors the outcomes of the GFACP. The seasonal GTCP field research teams monitors targeted sea turtle rookeries for any evidence of presence or activity by feral predators, including tracks, scats, disturbance and predation, daily for four months each year. Monitoring results are provided to Animal Pest Management Services for corrective action and response in real time to control any identified feral animal presence in the rookeries.
This program reduces critical threats to sea turtle rookeries and other biodiversity values at Gnaraloo through minimizing feral animal predation of turtle nests and other native fauna.