World Heritage Island Provides New Sanctuary for Endangered Mammals
June 2002: The future looks brighter for two of Australia’s most endangered mammals, the Burrowing Bettong and the Shark Bay Mouse, after populations of both species were successfully translocated to the world heritage listed Faure Island.
Martin Copley, Chairman of Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC), said that 17Burrowing Bettongs, also called Boodies, and almost 100 Shark Bay Mice have now made the long journey by plane, road and boat across to their new home in Shark Bay.
“It is not every day that the opportunity arises to help save two species from extinction – but that is what we are doing on Faure Island,” said Mr Copley.
“The Bettongs and the Shark Bay Mice have settled in well at their new world heritage address. Faure Island has everything an endangered mammal could want on a deserted island– good food, ocean views and, most importantly, no feral cats or foxes.
“AWC staff have even been out digging burrows for the Bettongs.”
The translocation was carried out by AWC in collaboration with CSIRO, the Western Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) and the Perth Zoo. CALM and AWC had previously eradicated feral cats from the 6,000 hectare (15,000 acre)island. It is the second largest island in the world from which feral cats have been eradicated.
Martin Copley said that AWC’s initiative in establishing new populations of Boodies and Shark Bay Mice was an important step in addressing Australia’s record of having the worst mammal extinction rate in the world.
The Burrowing Bettong and the Shark Bay Mouse were once widespread across the mainland. However, the impact of feral animals and habitat destruction has been disastrous. Both are now listed as threatened with extinction.
“We are grateful to CSIRO, who were the first to re-establish a population of Boodies on the mainland, and to the Perth Zoo, who have implemented a breeding program for the Shark Bay Mice.”
The objective of AWC, an independent, non-profit organisation, is to establish a national network of sanctuaries protecting a diversity of native animals and their habitats. Faure Island is one of AWC’s ten sanctuaries across Australia.