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Close encounter with Mallee's gentle giant

People travelled from across the Mallee and as well as Maryborough in Central Victoria for unique Carpet Python spotlighting workshop at Sea Lake.

Close encounter with Mallee's gentle giant

Budding herpetologist Zander Sagasser at the workshop

While the 20 participants didn’t have any luck spotting the peaceful, slow-moving Mallee reptile by torchlight, they still had the chance to get up close to Morelia spilota metcalfei (Inland Carpet Python).

Mallee CMA last week hosted the dinner and workshop as part of the $22m Lake Tyrrell Project, funded by the Victorian Government, Our Catchments Our Communities. The initiative is part of the Water for Victoria plan, aimed at improving the health of catchments for the benefit of Victorians.

Mallee CMA chair Sharyon Peart said the spotlighting survey was in response to anecdotal reports of declining python activity in the Tyrrell Creek region.

“Carpet Pythons are harmless to humans and generally Mallee people are really fond of them,” Ms Peart said.

“They’re found along the floodplain and in woodlands along waterways, especially around Tyrrell Creek and along the Murray River, but there are concerns about their vulnerability because of threats to their habitat and from predators,” she said.

“There are some known populations in the Sea Lake area but we did think we would need to be lucky to find some on the night of the workshop, so we brought along one for people to have a look at.”

Local scientist and wildlife expert, Alex Holmes, led the workshop which discussed the ecological values of the Tyrrell and Lalbert Creeks, threats faced by the habitats and actions communities can take to address some of the threats.

Mallee CMA Project Officer for Land and Biodiversity Kate McWhinney said Inland Carpet Pythons are listed as a threatened species in Victoria.

“They live in leaf litter, hollow trees and fallen timber, so they can be quite hard to spot,” Ms McWhinney said.

“While we weren’t lucky enough to see any on the night, our spotlighting survey did find some beautiful native species, including a Barn Owl, Southern Boobook Owl, Owlet-nightjar, White winged triller and Common Brushtail possums.”

Feedback from the event showed participants were keen to learn about particular issues and local species, and enjoyed the opportunity for a hands-on experience.

Fourth generation Tyrrell Creek resident, Cameron Warne attended the event with his son Hugo and said they both enjoyed the chance to get up close to the district’s icon species.

“It was a great chance to have a really good look at a python during the workshop – the kids loved it, but I think it gave everyone a bit of a buzz,” he said.

“It was an intergenerational event, really.  There were people of all ages glad of the chance to find out a bit more about the python, the habitat it needs, its breeding patterns and what we can do to make sure it’s protected.”

 

The Tyrrell Project: Ancient Landscapes, New Connections, is a community-driven landscape-scale project that celebrates the unique social, cultural and environmental values of this iconic landscape by developing strong working partnerships to deliver lasting outcomes.  

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