About Us

© Wayne Lawler/AWC


hectares of land owned and/or managed for conservation by AWC


locations protecting some of Australia’s most endangered species


native species threatened with extinction



Abt Story

Our Story

Australian Wildlife Conservancy was borne out of one man’s mission to turn back the tide of extinctions of Australia’s native species. Starting with one property in south Western Australia, Martin Copley began a journey which would lead to the creation of Australian Wildlife Conservancy and the creation of a new model for conservation. 

Through support from donors and innovative partnerships with Indigenous groups, governments and landholders, AWC now owns, manages or works in partnerships at 30 properties across the nation, covering almost 6.5 million hectares. 

Through this network of large-scale wildlife sanctuaries in remote and iconic regions, such as the Kimberley, Cape York, central Australia and the Top End, we protect some of the nation’s most iconic and endangered wildlife including:

  • 72 per cent of native mammal species (207 species)
  • 88 per cent of native bird species (541 species)
  • 54 per cent of reptile species (523 species)
  • 54 per cent of amphibian species (127 species)
© Wayne Lawler/AWC
Abt Challenge

The challenge

Australia has the worst rate of mammal extinction in the world. Since European settlement in 1788, more than 10 percent of mammal species have disappeared due to predation by introduced species, such as feral cats and foxes, and habitat degradation. More than 1,700 species are currently facing extinction. Inaction or ‘business as usual’ for conservation will lead to additional extinctions. To reverse this decline we have developed a new model for conservation in which we: 

  • Purchase or acquire land through partnerships with Indigenous groups, governments and private landholders; and
  • Implement practical land management (feral animal control and fire management) which is informed by world-class science.

Feral cats are the single greatest threat to wildlife, killing millions of native animals each day. Conservative estimates put the number of feral cats across Australia at three million. Our strategy to reduce the impact of feral cats includes:

  • Establishing a national network of massive, fenced feral cat-free havens;
  • Developing effective strategies to reduce the impact of these feral predators beyond the fence; and
  • Partnering with CSIRO to investigate cutting-edge, gene-drive technology to develop a long-term solution for controlling feral cats across the continent.

Australia’s terrestrial biodiversity has also diminished due to the impact of habitat degradation through large-scale land clearing, bad fire management practices and the impact of feral herbivores and weeds. The scale of our land management activities are unprecedented in Australia. We conduct the biggest non-government fire management program in the country in the Kimberley region of north-western Australia.  

© Jonas Klein/AWC

Our Success

Through the generosity of our supporters, AWC manages the biggest network of feral cat and fox-free land on mainland Australia where we have successfully reintroduced endangered species to their former habitats.  

Our practical land management program coupled with solid scientific research and practices ensure that we produce measurable results. Each year, our team of ecologists conduct the nation’s most extensive biodiversity program gathering data that informs AWC’s land management actions and enables us to measure the ecological return on our supporters’ investment.  

With almost 80 per cent of our staff based at our sanctuaries around the country, more than 85 per cent of operational expenditure is incurred on conservation where it makes the greatest difference to Australia’s native species – in the field.

© Wayne Lawler/AWC
Abt Challenge

2020 snapshot – Providing hope for Australia’s threatened wildlife  

2020 has reminded us that the effective conservation of all Australian wildlife and the habitats in which they live has never been more important.  

Australia Wildlife Conservancy’s (AWC) science-based, land management partnership approach has maintained momentum on ensuring the survival of many of our threatened species despite the dramatic events of the last year. AWC’s rigorous approach to setting objectives, measuring progress and delivering with optimum effectiveness has ensured clear and tangible progress in conservation outcomes.

Learn more about AWC’s objectives and results below.

© Wayne Lawler/AWC

Establish a network of sanctuaries and other managed land that is home to Australian animal species and the habitats in which they live.


  • Establish sanctuaries through:
    • Direct acquisition by AWC
    • Partnerships with Government agencies, indigenous communities, pastoralists and other landholders
  • Deliver practical land management (eg fire management, feral animal control, weed eradication)
  • Undertake strategic scientific research
  • Influence Australia’s conservation outcomes through engaging the community by educating, collaborating and telling our story


  • AWC protects:
    • 72% of all mammal species
    • 88% of all bird species
      Over 54% of all reptile and frog species
  • 6,000 animals from 20 species, have been translocated into, out of, and between AWC sanctuaries to date
  • AWC is a national leader in the establishment of feral cat-free areas, with a network of eight fenced areas and one entire island supporting populations of 15 nationally-threatened mammals.
  • During 2020 Dr John Kanowski, shared AWC’s knowledge, experience and scientific findings in a formal submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy, as part of the Inquiry into the problem of feral and domestic cats in Australia.

Improve and maintain ecological health – species abundance, diversity and ecosystem function – in AWC sanctuaries through integrated and cost-effective delivery of best practice land management and world class science.


  • Fire management
  • Feral predator and herbivore control
  • Weed management
  • Flora and fauna reintroductions
  • Conduct and maintain inventory of species & habitats
  • Measure and improve ecological returns
  • Infrastructure and asset management


  • AWC delivers Australia’s largest non-government fire management program
  • Australia’s largest owner and/or manager of feral predator-free land
  • AWC now owns, manages or works in partnerships at 30 properties across the nation, covering more than 6.5 million hectares.
  • AWC is a leader in threatened mammal translocations and undertakes the most extensive wildlife species translocation program in Australia.
  • AWC conducts Australia’s most extensive biodiversity survey program gathering data that informs land management actions and measures the ecological return on our supporters’ investment.
  • Around 80 per cent of AWC staff are deployed in the field, at sanctuaries around the country.
  • More than 85 per cent of AWC’s total expenditure is incurred on conservation in the field (with less than 15 per cent spent on fundraising and administration combined). AWC spends significantly more in the field than any other comparable organisation.
  • AWC is currently conducting over 140 scientific research projects on AWC properties
  • AWC scientists host over 100 external research projects
  • AWC is a leader in threatened mammal translocations and undertakes the most extensive wildlife species translocation program in Australia.
  • Over the last 5 years AWC scientists have published more than 150 peer-reviewed publications
  • In 2020 AWC was invited to join a panel of experts to provide advice to the Government on how to effectively protect and restore wildlife impacted by the bushfires

Nurture relationships and encourage partnership or financial support with current and potential donors, conservation and scientific partners, grant providers and government regulators events, social.


  • Improve funding for Australian conservation by running extensive fundraising campaigns, applying for relevant grants and encouraging supporter bequests
  • Increase awareness, understanding and support for AWC’s conservation programs and outcomes through:
    • High touch personal contact
    • Email communication and publications
    • Supporter, public and media events
    • Social media outreach
    • Media coverage and third party endorsement


  • AWC’s fundraising efforts have secured the highest levels of funding by a non-profit for in-field conservation programs
  • AWC spends much less on fundraising and administration than other comparable conservation organisations with over 85 percent of our expenditure spent in the field conserving wildlife
  • Already this year (our financial year ends on February 28, 2021) AWC has increased major giving by 36% and tripled the value of its active grant portfolio
  • AWC’s partnerships with philanthropists are fundamental to our success. Over the past five years, philanthropic income has comprised ~70% of annual revenue (more than $78 million). Our commitment to measurable outcomes and strong focus on relationship development has resulted in a market-leading supporter retention rate 2x the sector average (60.1% vs 30.7%).
  • This year AWC has added more than 8,530 potential and existing donors to its database
  • In 2020 AWC delivered its first webinar series to educate viewers. Episodes have been viewed more than 70,000 times in 18 countries around the world.
© Wayne Lawler/AWC

2020 Highlights

Fortunately, no Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) sanctuaries were directly impacted by the fires so we were uniquely placed to help with the bushfire recovery effort. AWC ecologists and land managers collaborated with local partners to deliver camera trap surveys, fence construction, cat trapping, tree climbing, and even Koala catching. AWC teams were deployed across six sites to conduct targeted surveys, assess damage to habitat, provide strategic advice, and carry out urgent interventions to protect surviving populations of threatened species. 

AWC joined forces with Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife and local landholders and constructed a (13.8 hectare) cat-free refuge to secure the survival of Australia’s most endangered mammal: the Kangaroo Island Dunnart. Work has begun (and is almost complete) on a larger (370 hectare) fenced area to also offer protection to other threatened wildlife including Southern Brown Bandicoots, Southern Emu Wrens and Kangaroo Island Echidnas. 

AWC was invited to join a panel alongside experts to provide advice to the Government on how to effectively protect and restore wildlife impacted by the bushfires.  

In late March, AWC joined Blue Mountains organisation Science for Wildlife to assist in the release of a group of Koalas that were rescued from the path of the raging Gosper’s Mountain ‘mega-fire’ in December. This newly rediscovered Koala population is among the most genetically diverse in Australia, making it critical for the conservation of the species. AWC ecologists and expert tree-climbers provided on-site assistance with the release, and to radio-track and monitor the animals as they settled home over the following days.  

On 17 October, a NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service hazard reduction burn at Sydney’s iconic North Head jumped containment lines. The uncontrolled and intense fire moved rapidly across the headland, burning through approximately 62 hectares of bush and a substantial section of Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s (AWC’s) project area. Our team was on the ground since the day after the fire, rescuing wildlife, creating shelters and assessing the impact to the headland. We installed refuge tunnels, nest boxes and watering points and providing supplementary food for surviving animals. 

AWC delivers Australia’s largest non-govt. fire management program and despite the challenges of COVID we mobilised helicopters, staff, Indigenous rangers and supplies to our Charnley River Sanctuary in the Kimberley where the team remained in isolation for eight weeks in order to successfully deliver prescribed burning across 6 million hectares. 

Across the continent, AWC’s land managers and ecologists have also managed weeds, fire and feral animals (including across 8 feral predator-free areas and 3 of mainland Australia’s largest feral herbivore-free areas), maintained infrastructure, conducted research and monitoring programs and, excitingly, developed innovative technology solutions to support our strategic field research programs. 

This year saw endangered Mala safely translocated from Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary in western NSW to the Newhaven Stage 1 (9,450 hectare) feral-free exclosure in the Northern Territory. 

In a mammoth effort, AWC achieved feral predator-free status for the 9,570 hectare Mallee Cliffs National Park exclosure, creating the largest such refuge on mainland Australia (and eclipsing AWC’s feral-free area at Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary (9,450 hectares)). The Bilby population has doubled since they were reintroduced to Mallee Cliffs last year and over recent months, we released Greater Stick-nest Rats and Numbats back in to Mallee Cliffs, where they’ve been missing for a century. This NSW Government partnership will see a suite of regionally-extinct species like Bettongs, Quolls and Red-tailed Phascogales restored here. 

Across each of our sanctuaries and partnership projects, AWC scientists compile an inventory of animals and plants, set thousands of live traps and motion-sensor cameras to detect elusive wildlife, search for threatened species and record patterns in diversity and abundance over timeA recent expedition to Wongalara Wildlife Sanctuary in the Top End of the Northern Territory resulted in a new species being added to the sanctuary’s list, the Chestnut-backed Button-quail. 

In 2021 AWC is celebrating 30 years of AWC’s journey, which traverses the inspiring legacy of its founder, Martin Copley, who first established Karakamia Wildlife Sanctuary on the outskirts of Perth, to our status as one of the world’s largest conservation organisations, delivering science-informed land management across more than 6.5 million hectares on land we own or manage in partnership. 

Through 2021 and beyond AWC will continue to expand its network of feral predator-free safe havens rebuilding mammal populations in Australia’s largest rewilding program.

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