Visitors’ Knowledge of the Broad-headed Snake in Royal National Park

Ian F. Hayes

Abstract


Humans continue to have a negative impact on wildlife and habitat within protected areas. Anthropogenic disturbance to rock habitat within Royal National Park in southern Sydney is reducing the availability of vital retreat sites used by the endangered broad-headed snake (Hoplocephalus bungaroides). One approach that may reduce this disturbance is to educate Park users about the broad-headed snake and the threats to its habitat. We conducted questionnaire surveys of Park users during 2010 to determine their level of awareness of this snake, and to assess whether educating Park users about the snake may assist in its conservation. Only 14% of 181 respondents knew this snake occurred within Royal National Park. Some respondents (6%) had observed people tampering with rock habitats, while 85% of respondents believed that people would be more likely to report such activities if aware of its impact on the broad-headed snake. A majority (53%) of respondents believed rock disturbance would not continue if people were informed of its impact. These results suggest that conservation of the broad-headed snake in Royal National Park would benefit if Park users were better informed.

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