Feature, News from the Field

Working hard for wildlife in a difficult year

23 Dec. 2020
Brad Leue

As the year draws to a close, AWC is proud of our achievements over the past 12 months. We are grateful to all of our supporters whose generosity has helped deliver some big wins for Australian wildlife in this year of adversity.

Please enjoy the video below celebrating some of our accomplishments over the past 12 months.

 

 

We saved wildlife in the wake of the bushfires

Australia’s most endangered mammal, the Kangaroo Island Dunnart, narrowly avoided extinction. As the bush smouldered we worked with our partners Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife, and local landholders to establish a 13.8 hectare feral predator-free area in record time. The 370 hectare feral predator-free expansion is nearly complete.

AWC’s dedicated team of scientists also carried out rapid ecological assessments in bushfire affected regions and later helped return rescued Koalas to the bush.

 

Kangaroo Island Dunnart Brad Leue
Rapid and efficient action saw Australia’s most endangered mammal, the Kangaroo Island Dunnart, saved from extinction and given hope for the future.

 

We delivered fire management across millions of hectares of northern Australia

From the Kimberley to Cape York we successfully delivered Australia’s largest non-government fire management program. As Covid-19 erupted we mobilised helicopters, AWC staff, Indigenous rangers and supplies to the Kimberley where the team remained in isolation for eight weeks to deliver prescribed burning across 6.5 million hectares, dropping 220,000 incendiaries and flying 40,000 kilometres in the process. In the regions in which we operate, we have reduced the risk of wildfire by 50% – 90% and increased the chances of survival for northern Australia’s wildlife.

 

Fire Susie Stockwell
From the Kimberley to Cape York we delivered fire management across more than 7 million hectares of northern Australia.

 

We ramped up our rewilding program and controlled feral predators on a massive scale

The most ambitious wildlife reintroduction program in Australia’s history saw species restored at multiple sites across the continent.

  • Rare Red-tailed Phascogales were returned to Newhaven in Central Australia where they joined the growing population of Mala in a massive (9,450 hectare) cat-free area.
  • Mallee Cliffs National Park was declared mainland Australia’s largest (9,750 hectare) feral predator-free area. In the months that followed we reintroduced Greater Stick-nest Rats and Numbats to the site as part of our partnership with the NSW Government. The reintroduction is expected to see the global Numbat population boosted by more than 20%.
  • We welcomed a new generation of Bilbies – the first born in NSW National Parks in a century. AWC’s projects to establish new wild populations at five sites is expected to increase the global Bilby population by up to 40% – or 5,000 Bilbies.

AWC manages more cat and fox-free land than any other organisation in Australia but we continue to search for landscape-scale solutions for controlling feral predators beyond the fence. This year, we expanded our ground-breaking feral predator ecology research program to Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary with two huge arrays incorporating 150 camera traps deployed to measure densities of cats and foxes. This research will inform rewilding efforts outside fenced areas – perhaps as soon as 2021.

 

Numibat Web Brad Leue
Numbats, Greater Stick-nest Rats, Bilbies and Bridled Nailtail Wallabies have now been restored to NSW National Parks under our partnership with the NSW Government.

 

We delivered Australia’s most extensive biodiversity survey program

Our national biodiversity monitoring program this year involved more than 160,000 trap nights. This included the first joint AWC-Wilinggin survey in the remote north-west Kimberley where we detected endangered Black-footed Tree-rats and elusive Kimberley Brush-tailed Phascogales – both listed in the top 10 Australian mammals at highest risk of extinction.

We made a significant contribution to the inaugural national Threatened Species Index for Mammals. This Index is critically important for informing the national conservation effort.

 

We advanced our investment in cutting-edge conservation technology

We made strong progress developing artificial intelligence to identify species in the field and improve our efficiency in controlling key threats to wildlife.

 

We directed your investment to where it can make the biggest difference to wildlife

This year, as in past years, we deployed 87% of our resources to the field, with only 13% spent on fundraising and administration. We are proud of directing such a high proportion of donations to on-ground conservation work.

 

Fairywren Image Niki Teunissen
In 2021 we will celebrate 30 years of effectively conserving Australia’s threatened wildlife and habitats. Image: Purple-crowned Fairywrens, Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary.

 

This year highlighted that our mission – the effective conservation of all Australian animals and the habitats in which they live − has never been more important, nor more urgent. We are proud of what we’ve achieved for biodiversity this year – but there is still a lot more work to be done.

In 2021 we’ll celebrate 30 years of AWC’s journey, from Martin Copley’s establishment of Karakamia Wildlife Sanctuary to our status as one of the world’s leading conservation organisations, delivering science-informed land management across 6.5 million hectares. There’s a lot to look forward to.

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