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Ep.164: Lo sforzo dell'Australia per sconfiggere la formica pazza gialla

A group of yellow crazy ants (Anoplolepis gracilipes) in the Northern Territory. Source: DEWHA

Un cane addestrato chiamato Fury sta aiutando le autorità in Australia a sradicare le ultime sacche rimaste delle aggressive formiche pazze gialle.

SCARICA la trascrizione col testo a fronte in inglese.     

Italian

HELICOPTER NATURAL SOUND

Un elicottero vola basso su una piantagione di canne da zucchero in Queensland per gettare delle esche contro un invasore nocivo.

VOX POPS
"The yellow crazy ants are one of the world's worst invasive species."
"Because of their numbers they can dominate a lot of food sources and out-compete other species."
"They spit a form of acid which burns the skin. We believe we are winning the war."

Le formiche sono una minaccia nell'estremo nord del Queensland.

Questo sostiene Gareth Humphries, che fa parte dello sforzo di eradicazione.

"One ant on its own can't do a lot of damage but when you get into the millions they can impact local wildlife. We are in contact with people from Seychelles for instance who are working to eradicate yellow crazy ants from heritage areas in their part of the world."

DOG BARK NATURAL SOUND

Un cane da traccia chiamata Fury è stata addestrata a scovare le colonie di formiche.

Il Labrador di due anni è diventata un membro essenziale della squadra.

"She is trained to recognise the pheromones that the ants give off. She raises the chances of us detecting any ants that are left in an area after we have undertaken control activities."

"Scott Buchanan, Executive Director for the Wet Tropics Management authority. What we do is we get dolls and toys, we produce the odour from the ants, put it on the toys and hide the toys away for the dog. The dog is also being trained not to stick its snout into a nest. It will just sit down, that is a signal which indicates 'I have found something, come over and see what I have found."

Il programma di eradicamento delle formiche gialle è operativo e funzionante, e i risultati sono straordinari.

L'Australia è quasi a metà di un piano di 10 anni per eliminare questi insetti nocivi.

Sono stati eliminati circa l'85% delle infestazioni conosciute.

Lori Lach, un'ecologa alla James Cook University, ha dichiarato che c'è ancora bisogno di attenzione.

"Trying to eradicate something that you can't see and balancing that with waiting until you can see it, then treating it at the right time. That is the real challenge. When there are gaps in funding then treatment is delayed and that gives the ants a leg up."

Le formiche possono creare super colonie con migliaia di regine.

Si stima che fino a 20 milioni di formiche operaie possano abitare in un singolo ettaro di terra.

Gli scienziati ritengono che le formiche siano responsabili della morte di fino a 20 milioni di granchi rossi a Christmas Island, un territorio australiano nell'Oceano Indiano.

Andrew Cox, del gruppo conservazionista Invasive Species Council, le definisce una seria minaccia alla biodiversità.

"These ants are nasty because they spray formic acid as a way of disabling their food sources and other animals and insects they attack. They arrived in Australia without their normal parasites and predators. They can cover vast areas of north and north-eastern Australia. When they invade an area, it is like there is nothing there. They consume all of the ground dwelling, insects, lizards, even birds and small mammals. So it is really bad for the environment."

E non solo in Australia.

Le formiche fanno parte di una lunga lista di specie invasive, che include rospi delle canne, gatti selvatici, maiali e cammelli, ma che hanno causato un incalcolabile massacro ecologico in tutta Australia.

English

 

HELICOPTER NATURAL SOUND

A helicopter swoops in low, over a sugar cane plantation in Queensland, to drop bait against a destructive invader.

VOX POPS
"The yellow crazy ants are one of the world's worst invasive species."
"Because of their numbers they can dominate a lot of food sources and out-compete other species."
"They spit a form of acid which burns the skin. We believe we are winning the war."

The ants are a menace in far north Queensland.

That's according to Gareth Humphries, who is part of the eradication effort.

"One ant on its own can't do a lot of damage but when you get into the millions they can impact local wildlife. We are in contact with people from Seychelles for instance who are working to eradicate yellow crazy ants from heritage areas in their part of the world."

DOG BARK NATURAL SOUND

A sniffer dog called Fury has been trained to detect colonies of ants.

The two year old Labrador has become a vital member of the team.

"She is trained to recognise the pheromones that the ants give off. She raises the chances of us detecting any ants that are left in an area after we have undertaken control activities."

"Scott Buchanan, Executive Director for the Wet Tropics Management authority. What we do is we get dolls and toys, we produce the odour from the ants, put it on the toys and hide the toys away for the dog. The dog is also being trained not to stick its snout into a nest. It will just sit down, that is a signal which indicates 'I have found something, come over and see what I have found.'"

The yellow ant eradication program is up and running and the results are impressive.

Australia is almost half way through a 10 year plan to eliminate these destructive insects.

About 85 per cent of known infestations have been killed off.

Lori Lach, an ecologist at James Cook University, says vigilance is still needed.

"Trying to eradicate something that you can't see and balancing that with waiting until you can see it, then treating it at the right time. That is the real challenge. When there are gaps in funding then treatment is delayed and that gives the ants a leg up."

They can form super colonies containing thousands of queens.

It is estimated that up to 20 million worker ants can inhabit a single hectare of land.

On Christmas Island, an Australian territory in the Indian ocean, scientists say ants have been responsible for the deaths of up to 20 million red crabs.

Andrew Cox from the Invasive Species Council - a conservation group - says they are a major threat to biodiversity.

"These ants are nasty because they spray formic acid as a way of disabling their food sources and other animals and insects they attack. They arrived in Australia without their normal parasites and predators. They can cover vast areas of north and north-eastern Australia. When they invade an area, it is like there is nothing there. They consume all of the ground dwelling, insects, lizards, even birds and small mammals. So it is really bad for the environment."

Not just in Australia.

The ants are part of a long list of invasive species, including cane toads, feral cats, pigs and camels, but have caused untold ecological carnage across Australia. 

Report by Phil Mercer

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