A new function to boost the power of the popular RabbitScan app has given the community the ability to track the spread of rabbit biocontrol agents and viruses from their smart phone or computer, via a digital map.
The innovative tracking function in the RabbitScan app was developed through the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (IACRC) as part of its rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD) virus project, called RHD Boost.
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) researcher and project leader of RHD Boost, Dr Tarnya Cox, said the new tool delivers an innovative approach to understanding rabbit biocontrol agents and viruses in the Australian landscape.
“Farmers, land managers and the community can play an important role in recording evidence of rabbit disease which can be used as scientific data to guide local rabbit management activities,” Dr Cox said.
“The app takes you through a few simple steps to record details of dead rabbits and includes images of rabbits affected by virus and disease for easy identification.
“A powerful aspect of the new tracker gives people the opportunity to submit tissue samples from dead rabbits with suspected RHD virus.
“When users click to submit a tissue sample our research team sends a free, postage-paid sampling kit with full instructions on how to collect and send the sample.
“Once the tissue sample is analysed an update on the digital map will record the results and the person who submitted the sample will be notified with accurate information of what virus is affecting rabbits in their area or control site, which is valuable information for their local rabbit management plan.
“The project is giving communities across Australia the power to make informed management decisions based on scientific evidence,” Dr Cox said.
NSW DPI professional officer and IACRC FeralScan manager, Peter West, said the user-friendly RabbitScan app can be used without mobile phone coverage and is suitable for remote areas.
“Rabbit details recorded out of phone reception are stored until you are in range. Once in range users can upload records directly to the map with just one button,” Mr West said.
“The RabbitScan app and website are moving from a tool which tells you where rabbits are to one that can also reveal the effectiveness of local management decisions and actions on a national scale.”
“RabbitScan is a tool for the community, led by the community and benefiting the community, which will assist land managers and farmers in making future management decisions.”
RabbitScan currently has more than 12,000 registered users who can update their apps to access the Rabbit Biocontrol Tracker via Apple or Google Play stores or rabbitscan.org.au
Visit the Invasive Animals CRC website for more articles.