Murray Sunset- 21 Years Old and in Great Shape
Wednesday 25 September, 2013
When the Murray Sunset National Park was proclaimed in 1992, much of it was degraded sandy wasteland. A huge rabbit population and overgrazing had stripped this fragile landscape of native vegetation and killed off any tree regrowth.
Today, thanks to a long and ongoing campaign, the park is again a vibrant environment, that’s alive with masses of spring flowers at the moment.
Parks Victoria Ranger and Werrimul local Jack Kelly has watched this gradual revival first hand, having grown up in the area and worked there as a Ranger for 20 years. “Back then it was just bare earth and rabbit burrows everywhere. In one area we counted 320 rabbits in one kilometre. We spent the first year after it was proclaimed just doing solid rabbit work, fumigating and poisoning. The key to our success was perseverance, and the extra help we had through an employment scheme at the time.”
Parks Victoria’s Ranger in Charge of the park Kym Schramm, says when a survey was done to discover just how big the rabbit problem was in the park, the findings were daunting. “In many areas over a hundred rabbits per linear kilometre were recorded, which translated into an overall population of many hundreds of thousands.”
Over the years many different methods of eradication have been used, such as fumigation, burrow destruction, and large scale warren ripping. The introduction of the Calici-virus in the 90s really helped consolidate the program, and Kym says the outstanding results have been worth the effort.
“A recent survey around the park showed rabbit numbers have declined to just one rabbit per kilometre. The reason for this amazing success is an ongoing integrated control program that’s using all these methods, and the determination behind it.”
Some of the most visually pleasing features of the Murray Sunset’s revival for Jack Kelly are the fenced off plots now filling with young Slender Cypress pines.
“Back in the mid nineties there was no chance of survival for young seedlings with the rabbit numbers then. So we fenced off about six plots and now there are about sixty young trees in each. It makes you really proud to see them coming back so well, and to see the whole park looking so healthy and alive again.”
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