Background Information • Kakadu National Park is located in the Northern Territory in Australia, 171 km away from Darwin. Kakadu National Park is located within the Alligator Rivers Region of the Northern Territory of Australia. It covers an area of 19,804 km2, extending nearly 200 kilometres from north to south and over 100 kilometres from east to west. Kakadu was established at a time when the Australian public was becoming more interested in the statement of national parks for preservation and in recognising the land interests of Aboriginal people.
Fauna • The assorted surroundings of Kakadu National Park support an appalling array of animals, a number of which have modified to specific habitats. Some animals in the Park are rare, endangered, defenceless or endemic. Responding to the extreme weather conditions experienced in the Park, many animals are active only at particular times of the day or night or at particular times of the year. There are huge varieties of animals that live in the Kakadu National Park such as Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Fish, Insects, and Frogs. Cane Toads was introduced in 1980 from Queensland and were rapidly approaching Kakadu National Park, having recently been reported in the upper Mann River and Snowdrop Creek, approximately 15-30 km to the east of Kakadu National Park.
Flora • Kakadu's flora is among the richest in northern Australia with more than 1700 plant species recorded which is a result of the Park's geological, landform and locale variety. Kakadu is also considered to be one of the most weed free national parks in the world. The distinctly different geographical areas of Kakadu have their own specialised flora. The floodplains, which are inundated for several months each year, feature sedges such as spike rush as well patches of freshwater mangroves , pandanus and paper bark trees . Estuaries and tidal flats are populated with varieties of mangroves that are important for stabilising the coastline. Mangroves serve as feeding and breeding grounds for many fish species including the barramundi.
Introduced Species • Pigs • Pigs cause damage to a broad range of Kakadu's habitats. They degrade the environment around springs and small rainforest patches, especially in the wet season. They also dig up areas in their search for food and compete directly with magpie geese and Aboriginal people for bulbs that grow along the wetland shores. The ground they expose is vulnerable to weed infestation-pigs are thought to be the main agents of spreading the weed mimosa through the park. Park staff control pigs close to known mimosa infestations on an opportunistic basis and feral pig control work is conducted regularly. • Horses • Horses are particularly common in the southern woodlands of the park. They spread weeds and damage waterholes by eroding soil and fouling the water. Recent control measures have reduced the number of horses along the Kakadu Highway. • Cats • Cats are present in low numbers throughout the park. Casual observations and research from southern Australia suggest that cats' hunting activity is having a detrimental effect on native wildlife. Cats are not allowed to be kept as pets in the township of Jabiru. They are shot by park staff each wet season along floodplain and creek margins. Again, this is done on an opportunistic basis.
Introduced Species • Dogs • Dogs that have become feral have some impact in that they interbreed with the dingo population in the park, changing the dingo gene pool. Jabiru residents are allowed to keep up to two dogs within the confines of the township and park residents can keep dogs at the discretion of the Director of National Parks. • Cane toads • Cane toads were found in Kakadu National Park on 12 March 2001. Cane toads are poisonous throughout most of their life cycle and current information suggests that they will have an initial impact on animals such as snakes, goannas and quolls, who will try to eat them. Evidence from other areas effected by Cane toads suggest numbers will stabilise after an initial period. No effective control measures are available. Cane toads in the park are likely to be one of the most pressing management problems facing Kakadu in the coming decade.
Impact Of Introduced Species • Kakadu has seen several invasive species threaten the native habitat, particularly in recent decades. Introduced fauna including the water buffalo, wild pig and more recently, the cane toad have had major effects on habitat. Invasive weeds include Mimosa pigra, which covers 800 km² of the Top End, including vast areas of Kakadu, invasive Para grass displaces the native food of much of Kakadu's birdlife. Salvinia molesta has infested the Magela floodplain. Brumbies also inhabit areas of the National Park, including Yellow Water.