In between Numbat radio-tracking, we had the opportunity to participate in driving surveys, captures, weighing and collaring.
Driving surveys involved being a passenger in a four-wheel drive vehicle that kept to the road, and looking out the window or observing the ground from the top of the vehicle.
Numbats are difficult to spot as their coats are well camouflaged with the landscape, they are small, and they can move very quickly. When they were spotted, many of the Numbats tended to run into a log.
Various attempts were made to persuade the Numbat to leave the log and be captured, but often a trap needed to be set for when they ventured from the log of their own accord. It is important not to destroy the habitat in which many animals use, including the Numbat.
Once they were captured in a cloth bag, they were brought back to the base. Numbats are weighed and measured, and their general condition checked.
They are then tagged with a microchip and fitted with a collar including a radio transmitter.
The Numbat is then replaced into the cloth bag and taken to the location where it was captured, to be released. Their movements may be followed for some months before they need to be captured again so that the battery in the collar can be changed.
Being able to survey and monitor vulnerable and endangered animals is important. Research organisations and scientists often need the assistance of volunteers in these projects.
If you are interested in conservation, environmental and science based volunteering, see what organisations are active in your area. Or if you are willing to travel, further afield. In Western Australia, the Department of Environment and Conservation, CSIRO (mostly geared towards school children), universities, and various non-government organisations (e.g. Project Numbat, Gilbert’s Potoroo Action Group) need the support of volunteers from the general public. One way to help is to create awareness of various conservation issues and what people can do about it.