Data collected across 2020, from the twelve Daintree Rainforest Camera Traps, captured 772-cassowaries from 505 events, 528-dingoes from 217 events and 1,462-feral-pigs from 483 events. In terms of congregation, for every 2 cassowaries, there were 3-dingoes and 4-feral-pigs snapped and within territorial constraints, cassowaries were significantly more perambulatory than both dingoes and feral-pigs. Unfortunately, this does not provide reliable data on population comparisons, but the dynamics between the three competitors cannot be trivialised: Cassowaries, being of paramount World Heritage importance, are adversely affected by competition and predation from both feral-pigs and dingoes, but dingoes also prey upon feral-pigs with advantages for cassowaries.
Probably the greatest value that can be taken from this chart will be comparative across the years ahead, but as this is the first year of this long-term data collection project, the most significant event appears in October, with a dramatic increase in dingo numbers coinciding with an equivalent drop in feral-pig numbers, inferring that dingoes either killed the feral-pigs or displaced them through fear of predation.
As World Heritage inhabitants, cassowaries are an irreplaceable keystone species with a federally-declared Endangered Species status. Feral-pigs have been legislatively declared as a Key Threatening Process under the EPBC Act 1999 and an undesirable animal within the Wet Tropics Management Plan 1998 and unless otherwise permitted by authorised agreement, must not be kept, brought into or allowed to stray or escape onto, or remain at any place within the World Heritage Area.
At a State level, dingoes are considered native wildlife under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and are protected on National Parks, but elsewhere in Queensland they are declared as a class-2 pest species under the Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act 2002. Feral-pigs are also declared class-2 pests, but they also flourish beneath the blanket of legislative protection that National Park’s inadvertently provide. With fines of up to sixty-thousand-dollars per offence, the burden of eradication is placed explicitly onto landholders, whilst the State exempts itself as a Landholder within the same Act. The natural landscape is thus fragmented into two classes; with the majority, privately-held portion accountable for feral-pig and dingo abatement, whilst the lesser, publicly-held portion, reverts, by default, into unintended pest sanctuaries.
When freehold land is also World Heritage-listed, as is the case with the property that hosted these 12 camera traps, there appears to be inconsistency between the law of the State and the law of the Commonwealth and under Section 109 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia, the latter shall prevail, and the former shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be invalid.
Each half-month, 12 Camera Traps are cleared of data, which is transferred onto computer, logged, analysed, filed and collated into a draft report for publication at the beginning of the next month. The amount of memory space that is used to store all these files is considerable, as is the time taken to manage the files through the various software applications. Approximately 10-kilometres are traversed to collect the data-cards, replenish batteries and service camera-traps, twice per month. It takes every bit of a full day to clear all traps, but with work commitments, can extend to three or four days in total. One of the more pleasing aspects of the task, was the sightings of Bennett’s Tree Kangaroos. As yet, we have had no sightings of Northern Tiger-Quolls, but hopefully will with time and perseverance. The Board Directors of Daintree Rainforest Foundation Ltd commend this long-term data-collection project and hope that those that receive its monthly reports are happy to continue to do so and perhaps even forward on the reports to interested associates.