Protecting over 5,000 hectares of crucial habitat in the Murray Darling region, Yookamurra Wildlife Sanctuary is a stronghold for Australia’s threatened species. It contains stands of old growth and unburnt mallee, and is the site of several successful reintroductions of some of Australia’s most endangered mammals.
Yookamurra Wildlife Sanctuary protects over 5,000 hectares in the Murraylands of South Australia, between the Barossa Valley and the Murray River. The property protects some of the best stands of old growth Mallee still intact in south-eastern Australia, with trees that are hundreds of years old. Yookamurra is a stronghold for many species that are disappearing rapidly across Australia, including Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat and Malleefowl. There is a feral-proof fence around 1,100 hectares of the property, providing refuge for wild populations of several threatened species.
Nestled between the eastern slopes of the Mt Lofty Ranges and the great Murray River, Yookamurra has gently undulating country, with elevation ranging from 80 to 90 metres. It is in the semi-arid zone of South Australia, receiving an average annual rainfall of 270 millimetres, mostly between May and August. The temperature varies greatly, with very hot summers (50° Celsius is the maximum recorded) and cold winters (-8° Celsius is the minimum recorded).
Soils on the property are generally thin, and sit on top of calcrete and rubbly limestone. They vary from sandy loam to limestone rubble, with some deep residual claypans with soils up to 3.5 m deep. Three major habitat types dominate Yookamurra: Eucalyptus shrubland (mallee); Sugarwood shrubland; and open chenopod shrubland. There are also some stands of native pine (Callitris) on the property.
The most important feature of the habitat on Yookamurra is the large area of very old growth mallee, with many trees dated over 600 years old. These majestic old trees are a stunning reminder of the age of the landscape, and reveal what the bush was like several hundred years ago, before the extensive loss of habitat across southern Australia and the arrival of feral animals. There is also a large proportion of long unburnt habitat which is ideal for species such as the Malleefowl and Numbat.
Located only two hours from Adelaide, Yookamurra is uniquely positioned to involve the public in conservation through its school education, research and volunteer programs. Yookamurra offers activities and overnight camps for schools and universities which focus on teaching students about conservation and AWC’s scientific approach to protecting Australia’s wildlife.
Within its 1,100 hectare feral-free area, Yookamurra protects vitally important wild populations of four threatened mammals: the Bilby, Numbat, Burrowing Bettong (Boodie) and Brush-tailed Bettong (Woylie). Populations of Numbats, Brush-tailed Bettongs and Bilbies have declined significantly over the last 10 to 15 years, and the Burrowing Bettong is extinct on mainland Australia except in large fenced areas. All four species are secure at Yookamurra.
Yookamurra also protects populations of Southern Hairy-nosed Wombats, as well as small mammals such as the Western Pygmy Possum, Common and Fat-tailed Dunnarts.
There are over 110 bird species confirmed on the property, including the Malleefowl and rare or declining woodland birds like the Hooded Robin, Gilbert’s Whistler, Brown Treecreeper and Elegant Parrot.
The field programs at Yookamurra are focused on:
A small nocturnal marsupial, the Woylie is considered an important ‘ecosystem engineer’.
Burrowing Bettongs (or often referred to as Boodies in western and southern Australia), are a small, thick-set, kangaroo-like animal.
The Bilby is an iconic Australian marsupial, instantly recognisable by its long pointed snout, long ears, soft grey fur and...
Feral cats and foxes occur at high densities across the Murray Darling region and, along with habitat loss, have caused widespread declines in Australia’s mammal populations. Many small mammals are regionally extinct, and their ranges have contracted significantly. There is currently no landscape-scale solution to feral predators, but AWC is conducting research into feral cat control methods across our network of sanctuaries. Feral-proof fences, although not a long-term solution, have proven effective in bolstering populations of some of Australia’s most endangered species, and safeguarding them against extinction.