Feral photo winners highlight a national problem

The winning photos and video footage in our 2016 Feral Photos competition highlight why pest animals are an ongoing threat to Australia’s pristine environment and multi-billion dollar agriculture sector.

This year, the winning image of a ‘fox attacking a native egret’ was taken by Mary-Anne Addington, while visiting the Hunter Wetlands Centre in NSW.

“I was shocked to see in broad-daylight, a fox attacking and killing a native Eastern great egret. Even looking back at the image, I still find it confronting,” Ms Addington said.

Ms Addington always has her camera handy and decided to take some photos so she could document what she was seeing and bring it to the attention of the Hunter Wetlands Centre staff.

“The staff were extremely concerned by the images and since viewing them have undertaken further fox control and predator proofing within the wetlands,” Ms Addington said.

Other prize winners included an image of feral goats in full fight, taken by Sue Stelzer in western Queensland, an up close and personal image of a single ‘carp egg,’ taken by Danswell Starrs in Canberra and a series of remote camera images showcasing the devastating impact of feral cats on the endangered Malleefowl, taken by Ashleigh Harris in Western Australia.

Jessica Marsh, the Invasive Animals CRC National Natural Resource Management Facilitator, who manages the competition each year, was amazed by the more than 150 entrants who entered a total 309 images and 23 videos.

“The competition always showcases the mantra that ‘a picture paints a thousand words’, and this year was no different with the calibre and quality of entries from all over Australia impressing our judging panel and I’d like to thank all those who entered the competition,” Ms Marsh said.

For the first time, the competition also had a ‘best video category’, which was awarded to Parks Victoria with footage of a wallowing Sambar deer in the Victorian Alpine National Park.

Daniel Brown, Parks Victoria’s Acting Manager of Regional Operations for Eastern Victoria, said deer cause significant environmental damage through grazing, trampling and forming wallows in drainage lines.

“Introduced deer are expanding into Victoria’s protected alpine environments and the video footage clearly highlights the detrimental impact these species have on fragile ecosystems which are already suffering a number of threats,” Mr Brown said.

The Alpine peatlands in Victoria are endangered ecological communities and provide critical habitat for many rare and threatened species. Parks Victoria, in partnership with multiple stakeholders, is working to protect these peatlands from deer impacts through a trial program.

The winning images and video footage are below:


1st place: Mary-Anne Addington with her image ‘Fox attacking egret’ (NSW)

Mary-Anne was taking a stroll through the Hunter Wetlands, NSW during the middle of the day and was shocked to see right in front of her eyes a Fox attacking and killing a native Eastern great egret. This species of egret is protected in Australia and Mary-Anne noticed that the fox had killed a number of them that day. After taking the photos, Mary-Anne informed the wetlands staff who were also shocked and have since undertaken further predator control within the wetlands and have sought funding to finish the predator proof fence which surrounds the wetlands.


2nd place: Sue Stelzer with her image ‘Feral goats in full fight’ (QLD)

This photo was taken 120 kms north west of Quilpie, Queensland in the Grey Range. Sue took these photos while visiting the area and said the two male goats were not bothered by her presence and kept fighting. The destruction of native vegetation by feral goats is very evident in this region as they compete with the endangered Yellow Footed Rock wallabies which inhabit the same rock mesas. Sue has also spotted and trapped many feral cats in the area and has noted a decline in the native Spinifex pigeon.


3rd place: Danswell Starrs with his image series ‘Carp egg close-up’ (ACT) 

This series of four images are of a single European carp egg, collected from Sullivans Creek, Canberra in October 2015. Using a macro lens on a digital SLR, it is possible to see the tiny fish embryo moving within the egg. Its eyes are particularly obvious, as is its tightly curled body. The egg is approximately 3mm in diameter, and newly hatched larvae are approximately 6mm long. This particular egg probably had 24-48 hours to go before hatching. While one egg may look harmless, a single large female carp can produce upwards of 1 million eggs and is the reason why the European carp are taking over our pristine waterways.


Best remote camera image: Ashleigh Harris with her image series ‘Feral cat vs Malleefowl’ (WA)

This series of four images is of a Mallleefowl mound in the Great Western Woodlands. Malleefowl are listed as vulnerable by the Australian Government Department of the Environment and in some states have endangered status. This mound, which was being monitored by a remote camera, was active and a few chicks were recorded emerging from this mound during that season. In this photo series, a feral cat appears to attempt an attack on an adult Malleefowl while tending to its nest. A bunch of feathers were found adjacent to this mound after this incident and the mound was abandoned shortly after this incident.


People’s Choice: Robyn Williams with her image ‘Fox in suburbia’ (NSW)

Taken in the photographers backyard (behind Jamberoo NSW) as they were out early one morning taking bird photos. At first the photographer thought the fox had a bird in its mouth but when zoomed in on the computer the photographer saw it was a stack of wraps and what looks like a cheese and bacon bun.A good reminder to put your rubbish in the bin as it can attract feral animals.

Best video: Parks Victoria ‘A wallowing Sambar deer’ (VIC)

This video is a compilation of still remote camera images of a Sambar deer wallowing in the Alpine Peatland communities in the Victorian Alpine National Park. These peatlands are endangered ecological communities and provide critical habitat for many rare and threatened species. Parks Victoria is working in partnership with the Sporting Shooters Association of Victoria, the Australian Deer Association and contract hunters to protect alpine peatlands from deer impacts through a trial deer control program. 

The Alpine National Park Deer Control Trial is an activity under The Victorian Alpine Peatland Protection Program, an initiative jointly funded through Parks Victoria, West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority and the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme (via the North East, West Gippsland and East Gippsland Catchment Management Authorities).