Threatened Species Bake Off highlights SA icons

Several DEW staff members celebrated Threatened Species Day on 7 September by competing in the Threatened Species Bake Off – baking and decorating a dessert to commemorate the day.

'Rocky' the yellow-footed rock wallaby

The bake off aims to build awareness in the community about Australia's remarkable and unique threatened wildlife that call Australia home.

This year, DEW Major Water Assets Project Manager Amy Young, DEW Senior Engagement Advisor Renee Pearson and DEW Surface Water Senior Hydrologist Claire Sims collaborated to bake and decorate a yellow-footed rock wallaby ‘Rocky’. Claire said the team also had help from DEW Surface Water Hydrologist Tom Stewart, who used his skills to ‘place’ Rocky in his natural habitat in the Flinders Ranges.

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Rocky at home in the Flinders Ranges

The yellow-footed rock wallaby was once found in small, disjunct colonies throughout the semi-arid range country in South Australia, New South Wales and south-west Queensland.

However, population numbers were drastically reduced following European colonisation and current threats remain including competition for food and shelter from introduced herbivores such as goats, predation by introduced predators such as foxes and cats, and habitat fragmentation.

The decline of the yellow-footed rock wallaby across its range in South Australia prompted significant efforts to secure populations in the early 1990s through a program known as Bounceback.

Continuing today, Bounceback has expanded into a major ecological restoration program operating on national park reserves, Aboriginal owned and managed lands, private sanctuaries, and pastoral lands of the semi-arid Flinders and Olary bioregion of SA.

‘Thanks to the ongoing efforts of conservation programs the yellow-footed rock wallaby population has continued recovering and is now classified as vulnerable. A good news conservation story,’ Claire said.

Another DEW bake off participant, Green Adelaide Regional Data Officer Blair Pellegrino, created a pink-lipped spider orchid – an endangered species now found only in the Mount Lofty Ranges.

Blair’s creation was a chocolate cake with a berry buttercream, with the flowers made out of fondant and hand-painted with food colouring. She used photos from the South Australian Seed Centre’s website as her guide.

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Green Adelaide Regional Data Officer Blair Pellegrino with her pink-lipped spider orchid cake 

This was the second time Blair had entered the bake-off – her first creation was a hooded plover in 2018.

Listed as endangered both federally and in SA, the orchid is one of many threatened species being targeted by the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board in their ‘Back from the Brink’ project.

Through this project, staff are undertaking flora surveys, seed banking and propagation of this threatened orchid in order to reduce its decline.