The South West of WA has been named as one of the world's biodiversity "hotspots", one of only 34 nominated in the world and the only one in WA. In the past 60 million years Australia has never been subject to the destructive power of glaciers or volcanoes, which means plants and animals have had plenty of time to evolve into their own specialized niches.

One example is the White-bellied Frog, which occupies an area of 2.5 km² , across a range of 101 km² between Margaret River and Augusta. There are some 8000 plant species in the South West region, 4000 of which are restricted to this area. By contrast, there are only 1500 plant species in the entire United Kingdom. This uniqueness has promoted some scientists to try to get UNESCO world heritage listing for its natural area, parks and reserves. Unfortunately, few Western Australians or Australians are aware of this amazing biodiversity on their door step.

Birds and Animals

Australian wildlife is mainly nocturnal, so you won't see too much of it during the day. And even at night it is very timid and hard to spot. Apart from the wild life below I have only seen a few hopping mice (Antechinus?) at one of the huts and a couple of possums at another. I have also seen a bandicoot on the trail. Unfortunately, I see more wildlife as road kill.

Kangaroos

You will see a few Western grey kangaroos on the Munda Biddi trail, who will bound away at your approach. The "roo" is an unofficial symbol of Australia and appears as an emblem on the Australian coat of arms. Early explorers described them as creatures that had a head like a deer (without antlers), stood upright like a man, and hopped like frogs. Combined with the two-headed appearance of a mother kangaroo, this led many "back home" to dismiss them as travellers' tales. At some of Mill huts (Donnelly Mill, Wellington Mill) and even Nala Mia hut at Jarrahwood, you will see plenty of semi tame kangaroos. The ones at Donnelly Mill are very tame and will happily steal your lunch. Quininup has tame roos too.

Wallabies

A wallaby is any animal belonging to the kangaroo family that is smaller than a kangaroo and hasn't been designated otherwise. You will see them and be unsure if they are small kangaroos or large wallabies. I can't tell the difference.

Bats

Twenty percent of all mammals on the planet are bats. I don't often see many bats on the Trail, but I do occasionally hear them. When I stayed the night at the Sleeper Hewers Hut on the Old Timberline Trail near Nannup in 2016, I saw an amazing amount of small bats. They were hunting right up until first light, so they were easy to spot. In fact, one flew into the hut at night and kept me awake until it found the way out again.

Reptiles

I hardly see snakes. I think I have seen one every couple of years. I assume they hear or feel the bike approaching and get away. We did run over one accidentally on the Vernon Rd bypass out of Jarrahwood once - we broke its back, so we had to humanely (and carefully) destroy it. One year, on a rarely used section of the Denmark Nornalup Heritage trail I most probably saw 5 tiger snakes in 3 km, but I think it was just a combination of a rarely used track, on a warm Spring day, with no other riders about.

Avoid snakes if you can, but at no stage ever try to get close to them i.e. to photograph, or kill them. Few people die from snake bit now a days, but you maybe a long way from help, so stay on your bike, lift your feet off the pedals and go around them. You will most likely never need it, but we do sell a snake and spider first aid kit in our shop - see here.

If you sit quietly on some of the granite out crops you see 100mm long little dragons who bob their head. You may also see a blue tounge or a shingle back lizards on the trail. These 300mm long lizards are slow moving.

On the Walpole roads I did see some longer sand goannas - about 500mm long. In Albany I saw some big fat skinks, about 300mm long. I also see the occasional blue tongue lizard.

Feral Pigs

There are wild pigs all through out the South West, but I have only seen a few. They do damage the environment, and you will see their damage more than them. They also feed on native animals (DPaW caught a feral pig North of Denmark that had 23 frogs in it's stomach). They also spread die back(see more about this in "Plants").  Below is a photo of a dead one - it was pretty big. This was taken on the Brookton Highway only a few hundred metres from the Munda Biddi. Pigs will tend to run unless they feel threatened - then they stand their ground or charge. They have sharp tusks, and I would not want to mess with one. See my diary notes for Map 7, Sept 2013. If you see some, just stop and let them go, or back up.

I have only seen pig hunters with pig dogs out in the bush once and they were respectful of me and kept their distance. I have heard a story of riders camped in the bush having gun shots and pig dogs all around them in the dark (which would be a very scary prospect), but never seen it myself. Some pig hunters have been accused of spreading feral piglets to ensure they have future pigs to hunt.

Feral Cats

Although rarely seen, feral cats are the biggest threat to native mammals, outranking climate change, foxes and inappropriate fire regimes. In Nov 2014, the CSIRO had announced the development of a new 1080 poison to combat feral cats. It is supposed to be softer and more tempting than the traditional dried meat poison. Sorry for the poor photo of the cat below - it was the best I could do. This one was 40 km from the nearest town, so definitely feral.

Foxes

I see foxes on the Munda Biddi Trail near agricultural areas. They pose a serious conservation problem in Australia. Current estimates indicate that there are more than 7.2 million red foxes with a range extending throughout most of the continental mainland. The species became established in Australia through successive introductions by settlers in 1840s for hunting. Due to its rapid spread and ecological impact it has classified as one of the most damaging invasive species in Australia. The West Australian conservation department, DPaW, estimates introduced predators are responsible for the extinction of ten native species in that state. Reintroduction of competitive species, like dingos, has been suggested as a method of control. Research by the CSIRO concluded that the presence of dingos not only decrease the presence of foxes, but increase native fauna.

Rabbits

Rabbits were introduced to Australia in the 18th century with the First Fleet but became widespread after an outbreak caused by an 1859 release.

They are suspected of being the most significant known factor in species loss in Australia. Rabbits are also responsible for serious erosion problems, as they eat native plants, leaving the topsoil exposed and vulnerable to erosion. In 1907, the rabbit proof fence was built in WA between Port Hedland and Esperance to try to control the spread of the rabbit population into WA pastoral areas from the East. It did not work, and these are most probably the most popular animal you will see on the Munda Biddi.

1080 Poison

A commonly used poison for rabbit control is sodium fluoroacetate or "1080". Fluoroacetate occurs naturallyin at least 40 plants in Australia. Brush-tailed possums, Tammar Wallabies, bush rats, western grey kangaroos and other native animals are capable of safely eating plants containing fluoroacetate, but livestock and introduced species are highly-susceptible to the poison. Since 1994, broad-scale fox control using 1080 meat baits in WA has significantly improved the population numbers of several native species and led, for the first time, to three species of mammals being taken off the state's endangered species list. Western Shield is a project to boost populations of endangered mammals in south-west Australia conducted by DPaW. The project entails distributing 770,000 1080-baited meat from the air to kill foxes and wild dogs, although cats are harder to kill as they prefer live prey. The program was set up in 1996 to cover an area half the size of Tasmania and was the largest and most successful wildlife conservation program ever undertaken in Australia.

Birds

Birds move too fast for me to identify and watch, so I listen, especially at the dawn chorus. I have noticed that there are very few birds at the dawn chorus in Bidjar hut - I put it down to the constant rumbling from the nearby mine keeps them away. I had a spectacular dawn chorus in Yarri one year, and have never had it as spectacular again - I assume that morning was a Spring morning and I caught all the birds calling for a mate or something like that.

Black cockatoos

A bird you will often hear before you see it is the black cockatoo. There are two types - the red tails which live further inland than the white tails, but you may see/hear both on the Trail. They are a large bird, approximately 50-60 cms tall, with a distinctive raucous and noisy cry- 'karrak karrak waa waa'. They have strong short bills designed to cope with the hard nuts and seeds that form their diet. From early summer through autumn to winter the cockatoos live in higher rainfall coastal or near coastal areas in large flocks. July is the beginning of the move back out to the Wheatbelt in search of suitable nesting hollows. The nesting season lasts from late winter through spring and into early summer when the cycle begins again. They can live for 40~50 years in the wild.

Emus

Emus are the other half of our Coat of Arms. The emu is the largest bird in Australia and may reach 2 metres tall. The emu has good eyesight and hearing, which allows it to detect nearby threats. Its legs are among the strongest of any animals, powerful enough to tear down metal wire fences or sprint at 50 km/hr. I see them less than kangaroos. Donnelly Mill and Quinninup are places to see tame emus, but they can be very annoying if you are eating around them.

Kookaburra

The laughing kookaburra is a carnivorous bird in the kingfisher family. It is a is a stocky bird of about 45 cm in length, with a large head, prominent brown eyes, and a very large bill. Introduced to Perth from the Eastern States in 1898, they are now found through out the South West

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