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27 February 2019
| News

Nexus successfully completes Australian first: Delma torquata translocation monitoring program

Toowoomba-Second-Range-Crossing-Collared-delma

Nexus has successfully completed its two-year translocation program of a protected species to an area outside of the construction footprint of the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing (TSRC) project.

The Delma torquata, or Collared delma, is a small legless lizard identified in several locations on the Toowoomba Range. It is currently listed as vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 (Cth) and the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Qld).

Nexus Chief Executive Officer John Hagan first announced Nexus’ Collared delma translocation program in 2016, on behalf of the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

Nexus worked to ensure their habitat loss was minimised because of the very specific habitat requirements of the Collared delma and their fragmented distribution.

Mr Hagan said Nexus had undertaken intensive investigations to identify Collared delma microhabitat along the TSRC corridor, with live specimens collected by ecologists and moved to soft release areas for ongoing monitoring.

“Soft release describes a gradual return to the wild, and this technique enabled the Collared delma to spend time in an outdoor enclosure, become familiar with the new release area and aware of the activity of other wildlife in the area,” Mr Hagan said.

“Nexus collected 114 Collared delma and relocated them into one of 10 soft release enclosures as part of the TSRC Delma Translocation Program.”

The two-year monitoring program was completed in June 2018 with results of its success provided to the Department of Environment and Energy this year.

Anecdotal evidence shows while translocation of delma species has previously occurred in Australia, Nexus’ translocation is the first scientific monitoring program for Collared delma approved by the Department of Environment and Energy.

Summary of TSRC Delma torquata translocation report findings:

  • Of the 114 Collared delma collected and translocated safely into soft release enclosures, 43 (37.7%) were recaptured during monitoring activities. Thirty-seven (86%) were captured once, seven (16%) were captured twice and three (7%) were captured three times. Evidence of natural population growth was identified within these translocated individuals.
  • A total of 10 hatchling/juveniles were identified, representing an increase in the number of Collared delma held within the translocation soft release enclosures by almost nine per cent. These new individuals were too small to have been part of the translocation procedure and “chin patterns” had not yet been recorded and logged.
  • All Collared delma recaptured as part of the monitoring program increased in one or more morphometric parameters (including weight and length). In the situation where decreases in morphometric parameters were identified, it was considered within an acceptable range when seasonality/reproductive cycle was considered.
  • Soft release enclosure fencing was carefully removed at the end of the two-year monitoring period, allowing the Collared delma to disperse into the greater offset area, minimising impact to translocated individuals.

 For more information on the environmental design, impacts and commitments of the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing Project, visit www.nexustsrc.com.au

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