'Know your enemy': Collaring wild buffalo on the floodplains of Kakadu

Wild buffalo are devastating Kakadu's floodplains and destroying native flora and fauna. But a new program that uses GPS tracking devices is attempting to better understand the movements of the feral animals, so the World Heritage national park can finally stop them in their tracks.

 

Ninety seconds.

That's the amount of time it takes to get to the safety of a helicopter before a sedated wild buffalo wakes up after having a tracking collar attached.

Buffalo were imported into the Northern Territory in the 19th century as working animals and as a meat supply for the remote northern settlements.

After those settlements were abandoned, the animals were released into the wild and their numbers exploded, causing extensive environmental damage.

A 2014 aerial survey of feral buffalo in Arnhem Land, adjacent to Kakadu National Park, estimated the buffalo population to be about 98,000 animals across 92,000 square kilometres of country.

A project to track buffalo using GPS collars, in a bid to better understand the movements of the feral animals across Kakadu, has begun.

"It's important to know your enemy," said Stewart Pittard, the project's main researcher and PhD student from Charles Darwin University.

"Buffalo are quite a big pest and are becoming a serious problem. The better we understand our foe the better we can combat it."

Wildlife veterinarian Benn Bryant has been brought in from interstate to sedate the wild animals while Mr Pittard secures the collars to their necks.

But the research is dangerous work... Read the full story on the ABC

Source: ABC News
Published: 2015-11-01

Reporter: Elliana Lawford
Producer: James Dunlevie