Aerial survey of donkey and horse populations in the Victoria River District 2006
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2001 and 2006 Aerial survey. 2001 survey was published by Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, Palmerston (N.T.) 2006 survey was published by Department of Natural Resources, Environment and The Arts, Palmerston (N.T.)
Feral livestock -- Northern Territory -- Victoria River Downs; Donkeys -- Northern Territory -- Victoria River Downs; Horses -- Northern Territory -- Victoria River Downs
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Abstract From 2 July to 2 August 2001, an aerial survey was conducted to determine the distribution and abundance of donkeys and horses in the Victoria River District of the Northern Territory. A total area of 145,671 km2 was surveyed at a sampling intensity of 3.6%. Donkeys and horses were counted, with estimates derived from the count corrected for observer and environmental bias. The corrected population estimate (+SE) for donkeys in the survey area was 113,337 + 15,636 giving a precision of 13.8% and a density of 0.78 + 0.11 donkeys km-2. The corrected population estimate (+SE) for horses in the survey area was 38,725 + 8,978 giving a precision of 23.2% and a density of 0.27 + 0.06 horses km-2. The density estimate for donkeys is quite high compared with previous surveys (range 0.31 to 0.69 donkeys km-2), while that for horses is less than that of previous surveys (range 0.38 to 0.49 horses km-2). Comparison of densities is compounded by the different areas covered by different surveys. Consideration of numbers alone indicates that donkey numbers are almost twice that of previous surveys (range 31,712 to 66,654) while horse numbers fall within the range of previous surveys (22,933 to 55,022). The results of this survey indicate that the donkey population in the Victoria River District is increasing at or near to the maximum possible annual rate of increase. This increase is off-set by the feral animal control program in place in the district, which has removed 58,420 donkeys to the 31st December, 2001, and restricted the increase in total donkey population from 66,654 donkeys in 1996 to 103,099 donkeys in 2001 (10,238 donkeys were removed after the 2001 survey), rather than the projected 138,213 that would have been present in 2001 without control. Horse population in the Victoria River District appears to be increasing at an extremely low annual rate of increase (5% or less). The reasons for this low rate of increase are unexplained at present. This low rate of increase has meant that the limited removal of horses to 31st December, 2001 (only 7,444) as part of the control program still resulted in a slight decrease in the total horse population. Based on this it can be stated that the Victoria River District feral animal control program has had a major impact to date. However, it needs to be continued with even greater commitment of effort and resources, specifically the removal of the required numbers of animals (94,680 donkeys and 31,246 horses) during the 2002 dry season, if the aim of control of donkeys and horses in the Victoria River District is to be achieved.