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nature around uluru
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Nature around Uluru

Discover through this post, Uluru and its nature composed by a typical and impressive desert’s fauna and flora.

Uluru

Uluru which is the official and aboriginal name, also known, as Ayers Rock is a majestic rock stood in the middle of Australia in the Northern Territory State. Uluru takes part in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which belongs to the UNESCO. This park is about 335 km southwest of Alice Springs by flight, and 463 km by road.

This rock was created over some 600 millions years, it is 348 meters high, rises 863 meters above sea level, it is 3.6km long for 1.9km wide. Its circumference is 9.4 km.

On the geological side, this is an “island mountain”, which means is an isolated rock, which rose brusquely and is surrounded by extensive flat erosion in a hot and dry region.

Uluru is known as a monolith, which is avoided by scientists.

Homogeneity and lack of jointing are the features of this rock, which is composed of a coarse-grained arkose. Arkose is a king of sandstone with an abundance of feldspar, and some conglomerate. The composition is 50% feldspar and 25-35% quartz and up to 25% rock fragments.

Kata-Tjuta also is known as Mount Olga, was appearing at the same time than Uluru in spite of the fact that the type of rock is different.

This huge rock is sacred to the Pitjantjatjara Anangu who is the Aboriginal people of the area.  

Fauna in Uluru

Hundreds of different animals and bird species have Uluru as home. The National Park has 21 species of native mammals, 178 species of birds, 73 species of reptiles and thousands of invertebrates’ species such as ants, spiders, and bugs.

Birds

Over 200 different species of birds are hosted by this harsh landscape. They may either dwell year-round or come at this place during their migratory route.

 

SPINIFEX PIGEON 

nature around uluru

Kingdom: Animalia 

Phylum: Chordata 

 Class: Aves 

Order: Columbiformes

Family: Columbidae

This is one of the endemic species in Australia, also known as the plumed-pigeon. This species is listed under the IUCN.

This bird lives in arid areas on rocky hills and mountainous terrain where spinifex grasses grow.

This is a small bird, but males are slightly larger than females. Their plumage is rufous-brown with thin black bars on the wings and back.

They eat seeds of grasses and herbs from spinifex triodia species. They also consume invertebrates and leaves. They need to drink frequently, that is, for this reason, they occur close to permanent water sources because, also, water sources coming from food is low. They must maintain an important water balance due to the high ambient temperature. This pigeon can live in those hard areas thanks to low body heat production.

From August to January, there is a breeding season. Females are nesting on the ground and lay 2 eggs. The incubation lasts about 16 to 18 days. After 11 days, chicks leave the nest-site after hatching.

The wedge-tailed eagle is a predator of this species of pigeon, which has a good camouflage thanks to his rufous plumage having almost the same colour than its environment. This pigeon avoids escaping by flight, which could be better for eagles.

Reptiles

 

NGIYARI – THORNY DEVIL

nature around uluru

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Subphylum: Vertebrata

Class: Reptilia

Order: Squamata

Suborder: Iguania

This is an Australian lizard living in the Outback in the west part of Australia. This animal can live up to 15 to 20 years in this dry region where they can find an abundance of ants, which are part of their diet. They feed in the cooler mornings and later afternoon and could eat a thousand of ants per day. They are heliothermic, which means they need sunlight to warm themselves up because their body temperature and agility depend on the outside temperature.

Thanks to a network of microscopic grooves found between their spikes over their body and lead to corners of their mouths, this animal can drink in that way. It can also absorb drops from vegetation moving through capillaries, then this animal can suck it towards its mouths by gulping. This is an exceptional adaptation to the desert environment.

The females are bigger than the males for one reason: they produce eggs. The mating period is around August to September, and at this time, the sedentary lizard may travel far away to meet a partner. They lay three to ten eggs and after 3 to 4 months the eggs hatch. At 3 years old, a lizard is mature.

This lizard has a camouflage because their usual colours are pale yellow and red when they are warm and active, which is perfect in the sands of the desert. When they are cold, their colour is dark olive. Its best defence is the sharp spines covering its body, and on its back, it has a false head fill with fatty tissue, which is a good defence against predators because this false head protects their head and vital parts. Predators may try to swallow them but with a lot of difficulties. So when they feel in dangers, they lower their real head between their front legs and then present their false head. Their predators are bustards, a bird’s species, and goannas, a lizard, that eat eggs as well.

Here other lizards can be found in this area:

– Tjakura – Nocturnal desert skink “The end of the tail”

– Kuniya – Woma Python

– Ngintaka – Perentie

– Liru – Mulga Snake

 

Mammals

 

 

TARKAWARA – SPINIFEX HOPPING MOUSE (extinct species)

nature around uluru

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Subclass: Eutheria

Order: Rodentia

Scientific name: Notomys Alexis

Those little mouses are also known as the Tarkawara lives in Australia precisely in central and western Australian arid zones. They live between 4 to 6 years.

This is a nocturnal animal because during hot days, they stay in their small burrows where they sleep, and where it is cooler. Those burrows protect them against the heat. At nightfall, they go in order to find some berries, seeds, plants, insects fungi, and small reptiles, which are part of their diet.

This mouse, and like many other desert mammals, can survive without drinking while dry periods.

During drought periods, they can become locally extinct. After that, their population increase rapidly following periods of heavy rain. The females’ pregnancy is around 38 to 41 days and raises 3 to 4 young. At two years, they are mature.

Their predators are cats, red foxes, and dingoes.

Other mammals species in this area :

– Mala – Rufous hare wallaby

– Murtja – Mulgara

– Papa inura – Dingo

– Wayuta brush-tailed possum

– Malu – Red kangaroo

Invertebrates

– Minga – Ants “Ants, Ants everywhere”

– Blowfly

– Katydid

Flora in Uluru

There are over 416 species of native plants in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Many rare and endangered species are found in this park, they are restricted. Some plants are able to survive and are dependent on it to reproduce.

Plants are an important part in ceremonies for aboriginal people.

Flora can be broken into categories :

  • Punu = trees
  • Puti = shrubs
  • Tjulpuntjulpunpa = Flowers
  • Ukiri = Grasses

Several trees such as the Mulga and Centralian bloodwood are used to make tools.

 

GREVILLA “HONEY GEM

nature around uluru

This species could be a hybrid between G.pteridifolia and G.banksii, both native to Queensland. It grows to about 4 metres in height by 3 metres wide.

This plant grows when it is sunny and also in warmer conditions.

Their flowers, which are bright yellow and green are full of nectar, attracting honeyeater birds and insects.

TJANPI – SPINIFEX “SPIKY DONUTS”

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This plant grows in poor and arid soils of Central Australia. Roots, which develop nodes from the same ones as the shoots can go down around 3 metres.

This plant provides food for grazing insects and mammals. After rainfall events, this species produces seeds, which is an important source of food for birds and rodents in the desert.

This plant has good sticky protection, so this is important to keep your fingers away from this plant.

In order to have a percentage, Spinifex grasslands cover 22% of the continent. There are 64 species of spinifex in Australia and 34 are found in the Northern Territory. 

Another plants in Uluru-Kata-Tjuta National Park

Kurkara – Desert oak

Wanari – Mulga

**********

Géraldine

© 2018 – Wairua Kaieke

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