It is the middle of winter in Western Australia and we have had more rain than usual in the Cape Range National Park. No doubt the farmers of the Pilbara are pleased with the ‘greening’ of the countryside, but for us, life on the coast and under canvas can be pretty challenging. Yet, every cloud has a silver lining and ours is the wildlife activity – July is a busy time both in the Park and in the water off-shore. Here is a sneak preview of what you might see at Sal Salis.
Camp Manager, Paul Bester, took this photo of an echidna – it looks more like a crown of thorns, or some strange cactus but look carefully and you will see his little nose poking out the front. Echidnas are incredibly special animals as they are monotremes or egg-laying mammals of which there are only two types, the other being the platypus of eastern Australian, we don’t have them in the west. Our echidnas are Short-beaked echidnas and over the last month we have been seeing them quite a lot as they are out searching for mates.
Sal Salis team member, Amy Beck saw her first dingo recently and managed to get some great photos. The ancestry of Australia’s wild dog is still debated and recent studies indicate that they may have originated in southern China, travelling to Australia anywhere between 4600 and 18,300 years ago. Dingos need a good supply of fresh water so we see them more often when there has been plenty of rain.
We know this animal is not everybody’s favourite but he really is lovely and very well behaved around the camp. This is a Perentie, the largest of the monitor lizards that are native to Australia, and the fourth largest lizard species in the world. This photo was taken by our guest Natalia Leal and she did well as Perenties are quite shy and are not commonly seen. Historically they were a favoured food item among desert Aboriginal tribes, and the fat was used for medicinal and ceremonial purposes.
The guys on board Live Ningaloo’s boat Wave Rider have been seeing good numbers of Manta Rays and this photo is fabulous! Like whale sharks, mantas are filter feeders and eat large quantities of zooplankton, which they swallow with their open mouths as they swim. Gestation lasts over a year, producing live pups. Mantas may visit cleaning stations for the removal of parasites and, like whales, they breach … for reasons we don’t understand.
Lastly – thanks to guest Nanda Haensel, who visited us from Singapore, she took our background photo while out on a walk in the Cape Range National Park.