This Biodiversity Month we are pleased to announce that a major milestone has been reached on one of our most important threatened species recovery projects: Mallee Cliffs National Park now hosts the largest feral predator-free safe haven on mainland Australia.
This is a huge achievement that’s worth celebrating. At 9,570 hectares, the scale of the feral predator-free area eclipses those at AWC’s Newhaven (a vast 9,450 hectares) and Scotia Wildlife Sanctuaries (8,000 hectares).
The declaration triggers the most ambitious reintroduction program ever to be undertaken in NSW, with up to 10 native mammal species set to be restored here under our partnership with the NSW Government as part of its Saving our Species program. Most of these threatened mammals have been absent from NSW national parks for almost a century.
We’re proud to be part of this landmark project which addresses the single greatest threat to native wildlife: cats and foxes. Across the continent, feral cats alone are estimated to kill 6 million animals every night.
“There is currently no effective landscape-scale control strategy for feral cats – which is why establishing a network of large feral-free areas is so important for our threatened wildlife,” says NSW Minister for Energy and Environment Matt Kean.
AWC’s model focuses on creating large feral cat and fox-free refuges – it’s a proven strategy for restoring the populations of declining native mammals. The Commonwealth Government’s National Threatened Species Index for Mammals indicates that mammal abundance for 15 taxa increased on average by more than 500% in feral predator-free safe-havens, in contrast to declines elsewhere. In other words, fenced cat and fox-free areas work.
Mallee Cliffs’ feral predator-free status is also a significant milestone in our partnership with NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS). Through this project we are building an exciting best-practice template for collaboration between the government and the private (non-profit) sector. Together, we are delivering effective conservation in national parks and generating positive, measurable outcomes for Australia’s threatened wildlife.
Establishing the feral-free area at Mallee Cliffs has been a mammoth undertaking by AWC land managers, feral animal control officers, ecologists and NPWS, involving:
Bilbies have already been released within a 480-hectare breeding area at Mallee Cliffs and will be the first founders to go forth and populate the massive feral-free safe-haven.
Later this year Greater Stick-nest Rats will be reintroduced and the project will ultimately see reintroductions of Western Quoll, Red-tailed Phascogale, Numbat, Western Barred Bandicoot, Bridled Nailtail Wallaby, Burrowing Bettong, Brush-tailed Bettong, and Mitchell’s Hopping-mouse.
Thanks to our amazing supporters, and the NSW Government, Mallee Cliffs is now the largest feral cat and fox-free refuge on mainland Australia, and the site of one of the country’s most ambitious rewilding programs.