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Featured Wildlife Journeys

  • Tammar Wallaby

  • Australian Sea-lion

  • Short-beaked Echidna

  • Kangaroo Island Kangaroo

  • Glossy Black Cockatoo

Exceptional Kangaroo Island

Conservation Connection - Kangaroo Island

From: $1,960 USD

Duration: 3 days/ 2 nights

Type: Private Charter.

Departs: On Request

Venture out with some of Kangaroo Island's most respected researchers and conservation managers to gain an insight into key wildlife species, as well as enjoying the iconic landscapes and wildlife encounters the island is famous for.

  • Meet with Dr Peggy Rismiller who is the world expert on short-beaked echidnas – one of the world’s three egg-laying mammals. Over lunch, Peggy will share the results of 30 years investigating the lives of echidnas, goannas, tiger snakes and the broader ecology of Kangaroo Island.

  • Take a trip on the ocean with the team from Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures who assist in the citizen science conservation program ‘dolphin watch’ programme and learn about the visual recognition system used to track dolphin movement between pods.

  • Take an indepth look at the endemic Kangaroo Island Glossy Black-Cockatoo and the work being done to pull this large and atypically quiet cockatoo back from less than 120 individuals in 1995 to over 454 in 2020.

About Exceptional Kangaroo Island: 

Craig and Janet Wickham and their enthusiastic team have been sharing Kangaroo Island's secrets with guests since 1990 and have won numerous national and international awards for their tours. The family-owned operator specialises in deluxe wildlife tours which create an atmosphere where guests find themselves treated as friends, with tours run as a conversation not a commentary, promising good food, good wine and wildlife in the wild.

Price per person travelling with four passengers, including touring & meals. Accommodation not incldued. Pricing is subject to availability and all prices, itineraries and routings are subject to change without notice. Currency fluctuations may affect prices as quotes based on AUD. Prices are current at time of posting (1/4/2022) and may differ when you book your travel. Please contact us for our current pricing and itinerary details*

Itinerary

Tour day-by-day

  • Day 1: Cygnet Valley & North Coast

    Start the day with a visit to the Eucalyptus forest of the Cygnet Valley and learn about the ground-breaking habitat restoration programme at Cygnet Park which has turned former farming pastures back into diverse bushland.

    Guests will then meet with Dr Peggy Rismiller, the world expert on the Short-beaked Echidna.

    For nearly 30 years now Peggy has been working with echidnas in the field using a variety of methods and technologies including marking, radio-tracking, scat collection and analysis, and year-round collection of environmental parameters, to try to determine answers to the following questions:

    - How and how often do echidnas mate?
    - What is the gestation period?
    - What is the breeding success rate and survival percentages?
    - How long do echidnas live?
    - What density do they live in and how many are there in the wild?
    - How old are they before they mate?
    - What is their diet? 

    Slowly a picture has emerged of these fascinating creatures which have existed for some 120 million years and Dr Peggy Rismiller has become known as the global expert for the species - she is the “go to” person for Sir David Attenborough on all things echidna!

    Whilst echidnas are the core focus of Peggy’s work, she also looks at tiger snakes, goannas, weed and feral animal impacts, little penguins, biosecurity, fire ecology as well as environmental management through membership of the Kangaroo Island Natural Resource Management Board.

    She is a consultant to a range of International zoos and her work has been recognised with the International Earthwatch Award for Climate Change Research. Dr Rismiller conducts international lecture tours, workshops on wildlife care and rehabilitation, assists other researchers through offering year-round data collection under contract, supervises graduate students from around the world and importantly is a great role model for young women and actively encourages greater female participation in scientific research.

    Dr Peggy Rismiller - Echidna - Exceptional Kangaroo Island"I’ve been working with short-beaked echidnas since 1988, but there is still so much I’d like to find out. Back in 1834 Sir Richard Owen, founder of the British Museum, posted seven basic questions about their biology, and when I started my research work in 1988 only one of those seven questions had been answered."

    Peggy Rismiller - World Echidna Expert

    After lunch, guests will take a trip on the ocean with the team from Kangaroo Island Marine Adventures who assist in the citizen science conservation program ‘dolphin watch’ programme and learn about the visual recognition system used to track dolphin movement between pods. Depending on weather conditions and the activities of any dolphins we encounter, this experience can include a snorkel with bottle-nosed dolphins in the open ocean.

    Overnight Accommodation: There are various levels of accomodation available (3-5 star, farmstay, B&Bs). Please enquire to find out options.

  • Day 2: Stokes Bay & Seal Bay

    Guests start the day by taking an in-depth look into one of the island's famous avian residents, the Glossy Black-Cockatoo. These cockatoos are the sole remaining individuals of a population isolated by long-term climatic change which saw the drooping sheoak woodland (on which they depend exclusively for their food) retract to the coastal ranges of eastern Australia, leaving a small population on Fleurieu Peninsula and Kangaroo Island. They disappeared from the Fleurieu some time in the 1960s. 

    Guide- Tim Williams"The bird species most people hear about is the Glossy Black-Cockatoo. They can be elusive until you understand their habitat and behavioural patterns, but since we live in their habitat we know where to find them. The Glossies are one of the 17 island sub-species which have developed in isolation and guests are often keen to learn about the subtle differences of the island populations.”

    Tim Williams - Guide

    Numerically this link refers to a low of 158 individuals in 1995 up to 454 individuals in 2020. Guests will learn about some of the big issues for the species in the field including:

     - Habitat loss - both feeding (drooping sheoak) and breeding (large old Eucalyptus - sugar gum, red gum and SA blue gum mainly) habitat.

    - Expansion of Common Brush-tail Possums through retention of their habitat (any cover at all pretty much) and the development of highly nutritious pasture grasses. They are known to have eaten up to half of all eggs laid in a season or preying on nestlings in the hollows.

    - Genetic and physical isolation as the combination of millennial scale climate change saw their habitat retract to the Australian east coast resulted in the  Kangaroo Island population being “left behind”. 

    - Significant gender skew in the population with more males than females which adds to the challenge.

    We will also learn about volunteer activities to directly assist the cockatoos and if the timing is correct, provide the option to contribute. After taking a walk through the feeding habitat of these cockatoos which is also home to tammar wallabies, Kangaroo Island kangaroos, Rosenberg’s goanna, short-beaked echidna and many bird species, guests will visit Stokes Bay and do a scan for shorebirds as well as explore koala habitat nearby.

    After breaking for lunch, the group will travel to Seal Bay Conservation Park for a private tour of the Australian Sea-lion colony – one of the world’s rarest sea-lions. Here you have the chance to learn about the life of the sea-lions – the threats to their survival, their feeding excursions, and unique breeding biology. You will also learn about the management actions which are in place to try to protect this iconic species.

    Overnight Accommodation: There are various levels of accomodation available (3-5 star, farmstay, B&Bs). Please enquire to find out options.

     

  • Day 3: Flinders Chase National Park

    We begin the day in the island’s north-west in an important private wildlife refuge with Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife. Here, we gain an insight into (and take part in) the fantastic conservation work being done by Pat, Heidi and their team, focussing on threat reduction, long-term monitoring, and supporting private land holders and volunteers to take care of the bushland and the threatened species taking refuge within these recovering critical habitats.

    Exceptional Kangaroo Island, have assisted to build shelter tunnels out of chicken wire and shade cloth, providing protection for small mammals and birds. There are 18 tunnels set across burnt landscapes to provide extra shelter for the Kangaroo Island dunnart and other priority species post fire.

    Guests will be taken into bushland survey sites and shown the shelter tunnels and the wildlife cameras, with the opportunity to view the footage captured to see some of the threatened species KI Land for Wildlife are working hard to protect, and assist by checking the 30m survey fence lines.

    Heidi Groffen - Land for Wildlife"As part of my role, I focus on threat reduction, long-term monitoring, and supporting private land holders and volunteers to take care of the bushland and the threatened species taking refuge within these recovering critical habitats. Exceptional Kangaroo Island guests are taken into bushland survey sites, where we can show them the shelter tunnels and the wildlife cameras and they can view the footage captured to see some of the threatened species we are working hard to protect”

    Heidi Groffen - Ecologist

    Lunch is a picnic enjoyed in the bush and consists of marinated poached chicken, fresh salads, cheeses and fantastic South Australian wine, beer, soft drinks and spring water.

    Travellers will venture to the southwest end of the Island where Flinders Chase National Park covers nearly 75,000 hectares (almost 200,000 acres), where the landscape is dominated by coastal mallee and the "bonsai Eucalyptus”.

    These winds have carved out a natural sculpture park from solid granite tors, with the highlight being the aptly named Remarkable Rocks. The high vantage point provides an opportunity to look for oceanic bird species (Pacific Gulls, Australasian Gannets and Short-tailed Shearwaters during the warmer months) as the low heath often reveals Tawny-crowned Honeyeaters, Southern Emu Wrens and seasonally, the incessant call of the Western Whipbird.

    Admirals Arch provides a spectacular hangout for up to three pinnipeds, namely the Long-nosed Fur Seal, Australian Fur Seals as well as occasional Australian Sea-lion. 

    At the days end, guests spend some time gaining an understanding of the earliest human occupation of the Island, including what Indigenous Australians survived or even thrived on across the Island – a selection of items foraged, hunted and fished from the local environment.

  • Tour details

    Pick-up and Drop Off Point: Kingscote Airport or accommodations.
    Pick-up and Drop-off Time: Approximately 9:00am day one and 6:00pm day three.
    Languages: Translation services private tours available for French, German, Italian and Spanish (must be a private tour)

    Recent Awards

    WINNER TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2018 • 2017 • 2016 • 2015 • 2014 • 2013
    LISTED Top 5 Wildlife Guides by Outside Go Magazine 2015
    WINNER Outstanding Contribution to the Tourism Export Industry 2015 by the Australian Tourism Export Council
    WINNER World's Best Specialist Guide by Wanderlust 2021

    How you'll be making a positive impact

    We have aligned our sustainability vision with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
     
    E-WEB-Goal-15Citizen Science with Exceptional Kangaroo Island

    Exceptional Kangaroo Island contributes observations of flora & fauna via iNaturalist, the world’s leading global social biodiversity network. This platform allows our team to create research-quality citizen science data that enables a more detailed picture of our national biodiversity, and assists bodies such as the CSIRO, ecologists and other decision makers to deliver better outcomes for the environment and our species.

    Our guides record observations with iNaturalist Australia by using the iNaturalist app on mobile phones or desktop computers. An observation records an encounter with an individual organism at a particular time and location on Kangaroo Island. We require photos to be attached to observations for them to become research grade and added to the Atlas of Living Australia.

    This is where you can greatly assist us in capturing images out in the field! Although we make broader observations that we think are valuable to the local scientific community, we have identified the following species to track when we are exploring Kangaroo Island by vehicle, e-bike or by foot.

    Key species we're looking out for include:

    • Glossy Black-Cockatoo
    • Rosenberg's Goanna
    • Hooded Plover
    • Short-beaked Echidna
    • White-bellied Sea-Eagle
    • Bush Stone-curlew
    • Osprey
    • Southern Emu-wren
    • Feral Cat
    E-WEB-Goal-04Protecting Subspecies and Iconics of Kangaroo Island

    To reinforce responsible behaviours around iconic species unique to the island, Exceptional Kangaroo Island has developed a Wildlife Code of Conduct and Guest Briefing Card referencing responsible behaviours for iconic species including the Glossy-Black Cockatoo, Hooded Plover, Australian Sea-lion, Kangaroo Island Kangaroo and Short-beaked Echidna.

    Kangaroo Island separated from mainland Australia around 10,000 years ago, due to rising sea level after the last glacial period. Due to this long isolation, the island is renowned for the number of subspecies and as a critical breeding, resting or feeding ground for rare species. To reinforce responsible behaviours around these iconic species unique to the island, Exceptional Kangaroo Island has developed a Wildlife Code of Conduct and Guest Briefing Card referencing responsible behaviours for iconic species including the Glossy-Black Cockatoo, Hooded Plover, Australian Sea-lion, Kangaroo Island Kangaroo and Short-beaked Echidna.

    This involves sharing a factsheet educating people about sensitive sites and times such as courtship or breeding season that require increased awareness of possible disturbances, such as avoiding known nest hollows of Glossy Black-Cockatoos, beach nesting sites of Hooded Plovers and breeding times for Australian Sea-lions where increased stresses in the colony can bring increased risk to observers. This also reinforces the importance of appropriate behaviour around more elusive animals on the mainland such as the Short-beaked Echidna, who can suffer from “capture myopathy”, which is death or shock due to handling stress.

    E-WEB-Goal-06Creating Feeding Habitat for the Glossy Black Cockatoo

    Exceptional Kangaroo Island’s tour base in Cygnet River includes an aerobic waste water management unit that captures and recycles water from the office, commercial kitchen, bathrooms and wash bays. That water is then used to water the surrounding plants and trees - including the primary food source for the endangered Glossy Black-Cockatoo.

    Locally-sourced plants have been established outside of the tour base, including the Drooping Sheoak (Allocasuarina verticillata), which is a vital food source for the endangered Glossy Black-Cockatoo. Since planting this species, the cockatoos feed regularly in front of the office.

    The planting of sheoaks by the Exceptional Kangaroo Island team, community volunteers and conservation partners such as KI Land for Wildlife and Bio·R has been critical given that 54% of sheoak feeding habitat was lost in the 2019/2020 summer bushfires. Much of this habitat will grow back from seed over 15-20 years, however, the continued commitment is required to ensure this beautiful cockatoo continues to increase in numbers.

    E-WEB-Goal-15Providing Protection for the Endangered Kangaroo Island Dunnart

    Shortly after the 2019/20 Kangaroo Island bushfires, the team at Exceptional Kangaroo Island assisted local conservation group, Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife (KILFW) to build shelter tunnels out of chicken wire and shade cloth, providing protection for small mammals and birds, with a specific focus on the Kangaroo Island Dunnart. 

    This grey, mouse-sized carnivorous marsupial was one of the animal species devastatingly affected in the fires, with an estimated 90 percent of their habitat burnt. 

    In partnership with several international travel partners, significant financial donations were channelled through Exceptional Kangaroo Island to assist the KILFW team to continue research on threat reduction, long-term monitoring, and supporting private land holders and volunteers to take care of the bushland and the threatened species taking refuge within these recovering critical habitats.

    As part of the Conservation Connection experiences, guests are taken into bushland survey sites and shown the shelter tunnels and the wildlife cameras, with the opportunity to view the imagery captured to see some of the threatened species KI Land for Wildlife are working hard to protect, and assist by checking the integrity of 30m survey fence lines which are made out of flywire.

    The 30m-long tunnels have been positioned between small unburnt vegetation patches to provide a corridor for wildlife to safely move through while the burnt areas are regenerating. The cameras inside the tunnels are successfully capturing Kangaroo Island Dunnarts, Southern Brown Bandicoots and other vulnerable bird species.

    E-WEB-Goal-17Developing Partnerships To Meet Sustainability Goals

    Exceptional Kangaroo Island have developed a number of partnerships with key environmental organisations on Kangaroo Island and more broadly in South Australia, including Bio·R, Pelican Lagoon Research Station, Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife, National Parks & Wildlife South Australia and Birdlife Australia.

    Bio·R, Pelican Lagoon Research Station and Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlfie are all supported financially via touring experiences provided by Exceptional Kangaroo Island.

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