NZ set to release RHDV1 K5 over March/April

New Zealand officials have been given the green light to release RHDV1 K5 across the country in a bid to further manage their pest rabbit population.

The operations are being led by regional councils with the support of landholders and rabbit coordination groups across the country.

Officials hope the see a similar success rate to that achieved by Australian landholders, who overall observed a 42% knockdown in rabbit numbers post release of the virus during the March 2017 release.

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Feral Fighters making a difference as Quoll pups sighted

Collective fox control by members of the South East NSW Local Land Services Feral Fighters’ ‘Quollidor project’ team is reaping rewards as new Quoll pups have been sighted on the ground.
Kit Holmes has also been participating in the program and said "it’s great to be able to give something back to the environment. The Feral Fighters program has potentially saved the lives of thousands of native animals”.
The program targeted foxes in a buffer zone around the known Quoll habitat in Barren Grounds Nature Reserve and Budderoo National Park. Foxes compete with Quolls for food and also prey on juveniles. By restricting their numbers land managers are helping to create a safer more habitable space for the emerging Quoll population.
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(image from South East NSW LLS)
Why were some rabbits immune to the Czech strain of calicivirus?

We previously knew that infection from a rabbit calicivirus strain called RCV-A1 (known as the benign calicivirus) enabled rabbits to better withstand infection from the purposely released Czech strain of RHDV1 - but how?

Analysing archival blood samples collected from rabbits before, during and after the 1996 release of the Czech strain of RHDV1, the research team noted that rabbits who had antibodies to RCV-A1 were less likely to become infected with the Czech strain of RHDV1.

However, taking into account the fact that rabbits may have escaped infection by RHDV1 in spring, because of prior infection with RCV-A1, there is some thought that they may have died in the following autumn when RHDV1 again became active and RCV-A1 protective effects had waned. The research team now hypothesise that RHDV1 could have taken a heavier toll on rabbit populations where RCV-A1 was present than first impressions revealed and it is something they'd like to delve more into.

View the original research