Conservation photos, part I: Carpet Pythons

This morning, Twitter informed of a recent post on the Early Career Ecologists blog (which you can find here) about the value of photography for ecological research. It’s a great post, and it got me thinking about the plethora of pics I’ve taken over the years during research projects. Some have specific purposes, others are simply to document the process or the beautiful creatures and landscapes I’ve had the fortune to study. It got me thinking: “I should be doing more with this pictorial resource!”.

So here goes folks, the first of a series of blogs sharing these pics with you. Where better to start than with a research project on the endangered (and magnificent!) Inland Carpet Python in Victoria, which I was lucky enough to take part in during 2001…..

A tough old girl from the Murray Sunset National Park. What a cracker.

Her kind of country – Red Gum and Black Box woodland

And her kind of roost site – old hollow-bearing Black Box over lignum

Warby Ranges granite, where I did my Honours research. Fantastic country.

Some more…

My trusty Feroza put in the hard yards. God bless that car.

No. 4, who I tracked for 6 months, had a penchant for the Homestead garden. Here he is resting up after a big meal.

Spot the python…. (centre top)

Another haunt of No. 4’s: a big White Box. He was in the hollow jutting out centre right.

No. 4 liked to hunt rabbits in the summer. Here’s a burrow he spent sometime down. Part of my work was to investigate the timing of rabbit burrow ripping to minimise effects on python populations. The answer: don’t do it in summer!

Another threatening process. A logging coupe in Red Gum west of Mildura. Logging and firewood collection remove vital homesites for pythons, in the form of old hollow bearing trees and fallen hollow timber.

Even small hollows like this one are extremely important to individual pythons – they return to them year-after-year. And they take years to form. If anyone reading this blog heats their house with Red Gum firewood, please, please, switch to plantation timber.

3 thoughts on “Conservation photos, part I: Carpet Pythons

  1. Hello Geoff,
    Thanks for the ‘shout out’ re our blog post from yesterday. These python photos, and the landscape where you work, are fantastic. I must admit, you have me stumped with the ‘spot the python’ image – I can pretend I see one deep in the shadows, but in fact, I have no idea where the snake is in that photo.

    Best wishes,
    Bethann Merkle

    • Hi Bethann

      Thank you to you for a thought provoking blog. I know I’m really just showing some pics here, and that your post highlighted a much deeper and practical use of photography in conservation, but it certainly did jolt me out of my rather one-track, code-based frame of mind at the minute. I must get back into photography, and explore its application to ecological research. I’ve long wanted to try photographic recognition techniques, particularly for amphibians. Perhaps now’s the time!

      Re the python, yeah its very difficult. I intended this shot to show just how cryptic they are, but it might be a little too effective! It’s dead centre, about an inch down from the top. If you click on the pic, and click again to zoom, you should just be able to make it out stretched along the branch between a gap in the foliage. Look for the mottled pattern of the belly scales…

      All the best,

      Geoff

      • Sure enough, there it is! Thanks for the click-and-zoom tip. I’ll have to show that to Jerod, too. We both looked and looked, but could not locate the snake. 🙂

        We’re delighted the blog topic triggered some musing about the possiblity of photography to study snakes. If you delve into that, we’d love to hear how it works. There is a ‘part II’ to that post, scheduled for sometime in the coming week or so, which details how Jerod has been using photography to study individuals in a bison population in north-central Canada. Perhaps that will offer further ideas for your purposes.

        Cheers,
        Bethann

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