UNDERSTANDING RAKALI - AUSTRALIA’S “OTTER”
The platypus is widely recognised as a uniquely Australian animal. By comparison, relatively few people know that the Australian Water-rat (Hydromys chrysogaster) is a genuine native rodent that was a natural part of our environment long before its pest cousins - the black rat and brown rat - arrived with the early colonists. The Water-rat (also known as Rakali) is an extremely attractive mammal. Its thick coat of soft fur, dense whiskers, blunt muzzle, partly webbed hind feet, and dark white-tipped furry tail, all help create a resemblance to a miniature otter.
The Director of the Australian Platypus Conservancy, Geoff Williams, will present a talk about Rakali at ANU’s Robertson Building on Thursday 2 August at 7pm hosted by the Field Naturalists Association of Canberra and the National Parks Association of the ACT. Geoff has been studying platypus and Water-rats since 1994. Before helping to establish the Conservancy, Geoff was Director of Healesville Sanctuary and Assistant Director of Taronga Zoo.
The talk will also mark the commencement of the Australian Platypus Conservancy’s community based survey of the status and distribution of Rakali in the ACT region over 2018/19 (with support from the Wettenhall Environment Trust). Well-known ACT Parks & Conservation Service Manager Brett McNamara will officially launch this important ‘citizen science’ project in which FNAC and NPA ACT will be leading partners.
Geoff will then outline the biology and key conservation requirements of Rakali. He will also include tips on how to go about spotting this fascinating native mammal in the wild with the aim of encouraging more people to look out for and report sightings of the species.
The APC will also organise a number of special Rakali spotting sessions at known ‘hot-spots’ for the species in Canberra in May 2019 and the public will have the opportunity to participate in these events.
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