Sugar gliders (now known as the Krefft’s glider) were introduced into the Organ Pipes National Park over 30 years ago as part of a release program. The animals were translocated from nearby Toolern Vale and introduced into the newly revegetated park.
As the trees present at the Organ Pipes in 1989 were less than 20 years old, no natural tree hollows occurred. This meant that prior to release, 24 nesting boxes were installed to ensure gliders had shelter and somewhere safe to raise their young.
Initial monitoring took place after the gliders were released and over the years it became the responsibility of park staff to monitor gliders and box condition.
Over time, boxes became run down as park staff became scarce. The FOOPs group decided they would need a dedicated team to help monitor the glider population as well as maintain the boxes for continual use.
In 2011, Kara and Asha put their hands up to take on the task of resurrecting the program. The very first inspection of boxes turned up five individual gliders. Over the past 11 years, the girls along with many, many volunteers have repaired and replaced numerous boxes, planted food trees, fought bee and ant infestations and collected data on the gliders who call the Organ Pipes home. Kara and Asha have gone from monitoring boxes filled with bees and falling off trees to monitoring 42 functional boxes filled with healthy gliders. The highest number of gliders ever recorded was 37 individuals.
Currently the team monitors nest boxes at the Organ Pipes National Park four times a year, as well as having two maintenance days per year to repair any damaged boxes.
We use pole cameras to check boxes, which makes it an easy and enjoyable task for the wide range of volunteers who participate in the monitoring process. Without the effort of such dedicated volunteers, our glider project would not be where it is today.
Volunteering With Us
Volunteering with the sugar glider monitoring team is always welcome. You don’t need any experience, just lots of enthusiasm. We monitor boxes four times every year at different dates and times. For information about our next monitoring day, please contact Kara and Asha at email@example.com.
Our day involves walking around various sites and inspecting up to 42 nesting boxes using a specialized pole camera. We encourage our volunteers to try using the camera themself so they can share in the excitement of seeing a cute little glider face staring up at them on the screen.
Not only do we see gliders in our boxes, but you may be lucky enough to see some micro bats, rats, birds and possums, as well as many more species found around the park. Our work involves recording what we see in each box and whether the boxes need to be repaired or replaced.
If you are coming along to one of our monitoring days, all you need is to wear appropriate clothing (long pants and sturdy footwear) and bring water, snacks and any other gear for Melbourne’s glorious weather conditions, e.g. a hat, sunscreen and/or raincoat.