Hot Topics

Find out more about topics important to the South West of Western Australia.

STEM Education

Details about STEM education here


(primary, secondary, technical, tertiary, research, mentoring, community outreach, citizen research)

Climate, weather and events

ambergate - fire in the natural environment

(monitoring, modeling, risk assessment, adaptation, mitigation)

Marine environment and ecology

marine life beneath the Busselton jetty

(oceanography, regional marine bio-systems, shoreline events)

Terrestrial ecology, ecosystem services and natural resource management

Ghost Fungus

(biodiversity, management, adaptation, remediation, social wellbeing, regional planning)

Water resources and distribution

Ironstone Gully Falls Capel - surface hydrology - water

(resource evaluation, environmental flows, surface and groundwaters and their recharge systems, water distribution systems, efficiency of use, urban recovery, recycling)

Agriculture, horticulture and forestry

Boranup National Park - forestry

(land use classification, catchment planning, farm planning, crop and livestock management systems, services chain)

Food science, processing and quality assurance

(supply chain, infrastructure, processing technology, quality monitoring and check back, brand protection)

Health science, technology and health services

SWIT science 01

(current and emerging regional health risks, preventive health care, diagnostics, coordinated case management)

Mining, mining engineering and processing

Mineral sand mining Yoganup deposit near Capel - 1980s

(resource exploration, extraction and recovery engineering; processing, environmental impact, remediation)

Regional industry opportunities

electrostatic separators used in mineral sands industry

(technology innovation, creative IT services, manufacturing, logistical management)

Energy generation distribution

(traditional systems, alternative energy resources and technologies, fitness for purpose, regional energy hubs)

Biosecurity - Invasive Species

RHDV1 K5 pest rabbit biocontrol – national release update

8 June 2017

Current situation

Ø  National release of a new strain of the Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus, called RHDV1 K5, commenced in the first week of March at close to 600 sites across the country.

Ø  In Western Australia there have been 110 release sites.

Ø  Since the initial release of  in March 2017, there have been confirmed cases of wild rabbits succumbing to the RHDV1 K5 strain at six release locations in WA.

Ø  Confirmed cases of RHDV1 K5 have been found in Bridgetown, Donnybrook, Milyeannup National Park, Esperance, Mandurah and Albany. 

Ø  Nationally, preliminary analysis based on pre and post rabbit counts from 52 release sites, has shown a 42 per cent average reduction in wild rabbit numbers at sites where RHDV1 K5 was released.

Ø  Domestic rabbit owners are advised to seek advice from their local veterinarian and use protective biosecurity measures to help keep their rabbits safe from infection.

Ø  RHDV1 K5 is now available as a commercial product to authorised users, however winter is not best practice period for release.  Late Spring and Autumn are ideal conditions for deliberate releases of RHDV1 K5, when insect activity is high, but when there are also a low proportion of very young rabbits present. 

Ø  RHDV1-K5 Authorisation Training is available at DAFWA’s Client Online Training website. This course is compulsory for those seeking to become authorised users of RHDV1-K5, a restricted chemical product containing rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus. 

Ø  Coordinated, landscape scale release of rabbit biological control viruses will maximise effectiveness and produce greater results than patchy, individual landholder releases.  DAFWA recommends land managers contact their local biosecurity group before applying for the virus to coordinate a release or to determine if a release has already occurred within their area. Biosecurity group contact details are available within online RHDV1 K5 training package. 

About the RHDV1 K5 national release

Ø  RHDV1 K5 is not a new virus, but is a naturally occurring Korean variant of RHDV1 already present in Australia.

Ø  It is expected that RHDV1 K5 will work better in the cool-wet regionof Australia, where the existing strain has not been so successful.

Ø  Pest rabbits are Australia’s most destructive agricultural and environmental pest animal, costing upwards of $200 million in lost agricultural production annually.

Ø  RHDV1 K5 is anticipated to slow down the increase in pest rabbit numbers, by reducing rabbit populations by up to ~ 40%.

Ø  The goal is for RHDV1 K5 to ‘boost’ current management.

Ø  The release is the culmination of more than six years of research undertaken by the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre RHD ‘Boost’ project.

Ø  This is the first release of a new rabbit biocontrol agent in 20 years.

Ø  To maximise the effectiveness of RHDV1 K5, the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA) is seeking the support of release site managers, communities and the general public:

o   Domestic rabbits with up to date vaccinations for the existing strain are likely to be safe from RHDV1 K5Domestic rabbit owners are advised to seek advice from their local veterinarian and use protective biosecurity measures to help keep their rabbits safe from infection.

o   RHDV1 K5 will be most effective if supported by integrated pest management, with conventional control measures being undertaken following release of the virus.

o   A series of instructional ‘how-to’ videos on best practice rabbit control has been released by the Invasive Animals CRC.

o   All members of the public are urged to get involved by using the RabbitScan (FeralScan) app to report rabbit sightings or signs of disease. This will help track the spread of the virus.

o   Land managers are strongly encouraged to carry out concurrent control for predators such as foxes.

The release of RHDV1 K5 was delivered by the Invasive Animals CRC with major financial and in kind resources provided by the Australian and state governments, and industry and non-government organisations.

More information

Ø  For more information visit DAFWA’s RHDV1 K5 web pages –

Ø  For a detailed summary of field and experimental data into the efficacy of RHDV - PestSmart website.

Ø  For more on RHDV protection and prevention - Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) website

Ø  The RabbitScan app is available from iTunes or GooglePlay, or can be downloaded from the FeralScan website.

Ø  The video series on best practice rabbit control can be downloaded from the PestSmart website.

Ø  The Invasive Animals CRC issues regular RHD Boost E-updates to report on progress of the release program. To subscribe go