Large feral herbivore control in the SA Arid Lands

More than 360 large feral herbivores were removed from 9500 square kilometres (or 950,000 hectares) in the SA Arid Lands Channel Country in November.

Held in the Diamantina and Warburton River Catchment areas, Innamincka Regional Reserve and Malkumba-Coongie Lakes National Park RAMSAR Area, the operation aims to help land managers control feral animals that pose a significant threat to the environment. It is considered the most efficient and humane means of controlling large feral herbivores across broad inaccessible landscape.

In the Diamantina and Warburton River Catchment area, 234 camels, 19 pigs and 7 brumbies were controlled, significantly lower than the total 884 feral herbivores controlled in November 2018.

Significant rains earlier this year saw the river system flow into the Warburton Groove at Lake Eyre and fill Goyder’s Lagoon over a vast area. A decision was made not to carry out pig control at Goyder’s Lagoon due to difficulties in locating pigs that were widely spread in thick lignum swamps, which explains the significantly lower numbers.

In the Cooper Creek Catchment area, 31 pigs, 26 camels and 45 brumbies were controlled. Aerial control of pigs has occurred for more than 10 years in this area. While more than 100 pigs were controlled in 2012 and 2013, only four were controlled from 2015-2018. The increase this year suggests the annual operation is essential to keeping on top of feral pig populations.

Large feral herbivores increase total grazing pressure, consume stock water, damage Aboriginal Heritage sites, damage community infrastructure, foul waterholes and drainage lines and are a threat to motorists. They are notorious for wrecking fences which enables stock to escape. During times of drought they are especially detrimental, affecting recovery time of landscapes.

Pigs threaten riparian zones through wallowing, routing and grazing of native vegetation. Being omnivorous, they also eat native fauna including frogs, lizards, turtles and ground-nesting birds and predate on calves and lambs. They are a potential source of disease which could affect livestock and humans.