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Creating an Island Sanctuary in Central Australia

Conservationists are protecting native species by creating an island sanctuary within Central Australia that is free of invasive feral cats.

Central Australia is home to a wide array of endemic wildlife, many of which are endangered due to invasive species. Conservationists are working to protect these species by creating a predator-proof fence and reintroducing populations of native species within the enclosure.

The fence will first be built to enclose a 9,500 hectare plot of land but will eventually be expanded to a 100,000 hectare plot. Invasive species, particularly predatory invasive feral cats, represent one of the greatest threats that native Australian species face. A recent study revealed that 99% of Australia’s land mass has invasive feral cats present. Australian Wildlife Conservancy national operations manager Tim Allard explained:

[Feral cats] are decimating millions of native species every night.

The fenced-off area will support reintroduction of 10 native species, including Central Rock Rats, Malas, Numbats, Bilbies, and Phascogales, which will have a chance to recover in the absence of invasive predators.

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Bilbies face predation by invasive feral cats and invasive foxes, which has decreased their wild populations. Credit: Bernard Dupont

Although the project will be time-intensive in the beginning, the evidence is clear that once invasive predators are removed, the native species can thrive. Creating a predator-proof fence is like creating an island sanctuary in the middle of Central Australia.

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Night Parrot found in Queensland, Australia for the first time in over 100 years. Credit: Bruce Greatwich

Although many are hopeful, the conservationists in charge of the project are doubtful that the Australian Night Parrot will return to the area even after invasive species removal. Possible sightings have occurred in the area in the past, but none have been confirmed. The Sanctuary Manager Joe Schofield commented:

It’d be lovely to think that they could be here. Night parrots have been found in areas that have very, very specific habitats.

Even without the return of the Night Parrot, this conservation project gives Australia hope for a future of thriving endemic species. Hopefully, in a few years people might just be able to go visit and see these endemic animals roaming Central Australia without fear of unnatural predation, as they once did.

Featured Photo: An Endangered Australian Numbat. Credit: Lwp Kommunikáció
Source: abc.net

About Emily Heber

Emily is a recent graduate from UC Santa Barbara with a BS in Zoology. As a student, she discovered that she had a passion for the conservation of endangered species and their ecosystems. Her background in informal education has allowed her the opportunity to share her passion for animals with others, something she seeks to continue doing while working with the communication team. In her spare time, Emily enjoys exploring the amazing hiking trails found in Santa Cruz and tries to SCUBA dive whenever possible. Emily is excited to join the Island Conservation team and to help share the amazing work that is being done here.

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