Aussies relocate 30,000 animals before building new gas plant



Roughly 30,000 native Australian animals have been successfully relocated to make way for a massive new gas facility constructed by energy company Chevron Corporation in the remote north of Western Australia, reported the Xinhua news agency.

Frogs, snakes, lizards, mice, and geckos were among the species carefully removed over a period of almost seven years from a 1,000-hectare site at the top of Exmouth Gulf, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation revealed on Thursday.

One of the project leaders, Dr Scott Thompson from Terrestrial Ecosystems told Xinhua that this was among the first big industrial developments where relocation of this sort has been attempted.

"The aim was to basically mitigate and manage the potential impacts on the vertebrate fauna," Thompson said.

"So what we did, we worked with the contractors who are responsible for the earthworks and the land clearing and assisted them during that process."

"As they were clearing the vegetation, our staff were there to catch the animals that were moving away and assist with any animals that were injured or something like that."

Venomous snakes are commonplace in outback Australia and overall the team caught and released 184 king brown snakes, 60 death adders, 444 Stimson's pythons and 106 black-headed pythons.

"Some of the snakes are highly venomous, so the staff either had prior snake training, or we train them on-site in how to handle snakes," Thompson said.

While the programme was a blessing for the native animals, for the introduced species, the outcome was not so favourable.

Cats, foxes and feral rodents were caught and humanely euthanised and a feral animal control programme will continue on the site to mitigate the damaging influence they have on the native ecology.

Thompson said he hopes that relocation projects such as this one become more widespread to help alleviate the environmental impact of human expansion.

"This should become a standard process for every development, whether it's residential development for a new estate, or whether it is for mining or oil and gas development," Thompson said.

"There's no reason that all companies can't employ people to do similar tasks." - Bernama

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