The winning photos and video footage in the 2016 Feral Photos competition highlight why pest animals are an ongoing threat to Australia’s pristine environment and multi-billion dollar agriculture sector.
In 2016, the winning image of a ‘fox attacking a native egret’ was taken by Mary-Anne Addington, while visiting the Hunter Wetlands Centre in NSW.
“I was shocked to see in broad-daylight, a fox attacking and killing a native Eastern great egret. Even looking back at the image, I still find it confronting,” Ms Addington said.
Ms Addington always has her camera handy and decided to take some photos so she could document what she was seeing and bring it to the attention of the Hunter Wetlands Centre staff.
“The staff were extremely concerned by the images and since viewing them have undertaken further fox control and predator proofing within the wetlands,” Ms Addington said.
Other prize winners included an image of feral goats in full fight, taken by Sue Stelzer in western Queensland, an up close and personal image of a single ‘carp egg,’ taken by Danswell Starrs in Canberra and a series of remote camera images showcasing the devastating impact of feral cats on the endangered Malleefowl, taken by Ashleigh Harris in Western Australia.
Jessica Marsh, the Invasive Animals CRC National Natural Resource Management Facilitator, who manages the competition each year, was amazed by the more than 150 entrants who entered a total 309 images and 23 videos.
“The competition always showcases the mantra that ‘a picture paints a thousand words’, and 2016 was no different with the calibre and quality of entries from all over Australia impressing our judging panel and I’d like to thank all those who entered the competition,” Ms Marsh said.
For the first time, the competition also had a ‘best video category’, which was awarded to Parks Victoria with footage of a wallowing Sambar deer in the Victorian Alpine National Park.
Daniel Brown, Parks Victoria’s Acting Manager of Regional Operations for Eastern Victoria, said deer cause significant environmental damage through grazing, trampling and forming wallows in drainage lines.
“Introduced deer are expanding into Victoria’s protected alpine environments and the video footage clearly highlights the detrimental impact these species have on fragile ecosystems which are already suffering a number of threats,” Mr Brown said.
The Alpine peatlands in Victoria are endangered ecological communities and provide critical habitat for many rare and threatened species. Parks Victoria, in partnership with multiple stakeholders, are working to protect these peatlands from deer impacts through a trial deer control program.
Featured Image: Feral Photo 1st place winner: Mary-Anne Addington’s image ‘Fox Attacking Egret’ (NSW)
This story was first published in Leading Agriculture magazine.