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Penguin kill - challenges of conservation in an urban environment
14 Sep 2012
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Like many estuaries in Australia, the Derwent is densely populated. Urban sprawl and industry are placing ever increasing pressure on natural values. Historically the many coves and beaches within the Derwent estuary were sites of little penguin breeding colonies. Today many colonies are extinct, and those remaining are typically on relatively inaccessible parts of the estuary foreshore. But some colonies in residential areas are hanging on due largely to the work of dedicated councils, conservation agencies, and some members of the community. Habitat restoration in these remnant patches of coastal vegetation involve fencing, reveg, weeding, and the installation of custom made boxes and igloos to provide additional nesting habitat.

Community education is also imperative in little penguin conservation efforts, evident by the loss of 24 penguins in a single dog attack in mid 2012. This event highlights the need for strict dog and cat control laws, as some members of the public ignore 'dogs prohibited' signage, or allow their dogs to stray.

As environmental managers should we seek Legislative change, which is challenging to implement and only effective if enforced. Or should we direct our limited resources to on ground efforts and community education? Also, at what lengths should we go to maintain heavily disturbed sites of high social value, when those efforts may have greater conservation outcomes elsewhere?

Conserving penguins
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