Janine Duffy, founder of Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours along with Roger Smith, knows a thing or two about Southern Emu-wrens... but then she knows a thing of two about hundreds of wildlife species. “If it’s native and it’s wildlife, I love it,” she says. “I joke that my favourite animal is the one right in front of me.”
Southern Emu-wrens, however, do hold a special place in Janine’s heart because she – alongside a team of 40 others – found 18 of them in Mallacoota when it was previously thought that the bushfires of 2019/2020 eradicated them all.
An endangered Southern Emu-wren. Image: Exceptional Kangaroo Island
“So much of the habitat was burnt during the fires, and because Southern Emu-wrens are really small birds and can’t fly very far, it was assumed that they were completely gone from the entire region,” Janine says.
“While we were there with the Mallacoota Birders Big Weekend in March 2021, we found and recorded sightings of 18 Southern Emu-wrens. Scientists now predict that there is enough of a population in the region to enable the species to bounce back.”
Janine Duffy, founder of Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours. Image: Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours
The notion of seeing a threatened species and recording the sightings sounds relatively straightforward, yet the repercussions can be profound. “Often scientists don’t have enough time to visit each region regularly, so when ordinary people take a photograph and record the data it’s a huge help all round,” Janine explains. “There are a number of fantastic online platforms where people can submit sightings too.”
The Satin Bowerbird was also impacted by the 2019/20 bushfires.
On any given tour, the Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours team log relevant wildlife sightings, and guests keen to participate are encouraged to join in. “We focus on logging bird species data, in particular, when in East Gippsland on our Wildlife Journey, because the tour goes to an area that is right on the edge of a burn zone,” Janine explains. “We log sightings on every tour and can share those details with guests who are interested, of course. The findings and recordings can influence policy and strategy when it comes to conservation work.”
East Gippsland Wildlife Journey
Venturing across East Gippsland’s magnificent lush rainforests, coastal heathlands, giant eucalypt groves, white sandy beaches and pristine rivers and estuaries, this four day immersive adventure offers you encounters with an incredible array of species.