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Giraffe benefits from Conservation Volunteers efforts - feeding the weed

Friday 16 November, 2012

Conservation Volunteers spent the week removing Sallow Wattle in the Grampians National Park and as a reward for their efforts, took time out to feed the weed to Sumari the giraffe at Halls Gap Zoo.

Sallow Wattle (Acacia longifolia) has the ability to take over landscapes and create a monoculture, preventing indigenous flora species from growing.

It can propagate and spread very quickly after a disturbance, such as a fire.

Sallow Wattle is a real concern for weed management in the Grampians National Park and Conservation Volunteers are working hard to remove the small satellite populations before the weed infestation becomes too big to manage.

Sumari is the Halls Gap Zoo’s first giraffe and arrived in July this year at the Halls Gap Zoo. He will soon be joined by Pumika, another three year old male giraffe now in training at Monarto Zoo in South Australia and scheduled to arrive in Halls Gap soon.

In the wild a giraffe uses its height to good advantage to browse on leaves and buds in treetops few other animals can reach and their favourite food is the acacia (wattle). They have an extremely long tongue (up to 53cms) that helps them pluck tasty morsels from tall branches. Giraffes eat most of the time and, like cows, regurgitate food and chew it as cud.

“In captivity we feed our giraffe lucerne hay, a specialist grain mix and acacia branches. We have some acacia on-site but the opportunity to work with Parks Victoria and Conservation Volunteers to not only source the giraffe’s favourite food but to help in the conservation efforts in the national park is fantastic” said Greg Culell, owner of Halls Gap Zoo.

Katherine Dyson, Volunteer Coordinator for the Grampians National Park says that “it is a great reward for the volunteers after a hard day’s work to come and see Sumari. Volunteers have been spending seven hours a day cutting the weed and it is a great to be able to spend some time seeing the variety of animals in the Halls Gap Zoo”.

Conservation Volunteers Australia is a leader in delivery of practical conservation programs, community involvement and a range of training programs. Conservation Volunteers has offices in 20 locations around Australia and New Zealand, and offers volunteer opportunities every week of the year.

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