After eight years of searching, evaluating, planning and preparing – we were extremely proud to see that in March of 2017, RHDV1 K5 was officially released around Australia. RHDV1 K5 was the first new rabbit biocontrol agent released in 20 years.
The RHD Boost and RHD Boost plus projects, led by Dr Tarnya Cox from NSW DPI, was undertaken as a massive collaboration and partnership between all relevant state and territory governments, the Australian Government and industry and research partners such as the CSIRO, AWI and MLA.
More than 600 sites were registered to take part in the release and were mailed a series of information guides including video tutorials. All packs included instructions on how to collect tissue samples from dead rabbits, and vials and reply-paid envelopes to send samples back.
Due to this, we could officially confirm rabbit deaths from RHDV1 K5 at many release sites through laboratory analysis of these samples.
Since release of the virus, an average 39 per cent reduction in pest rabbit numbers has been observed at sites where the virus was released based on coinciding spotlight counts undertaken pre-and post-release.
Well done to all involved on this momentous occasion in Australia’s environmental history, and a big thanks to the many hundreds of community groups, producers and land managers who volunteered their time and effort to be involved in releasing and monitoring impact virus.