Australia's Largest Feral-free Sanctuary to Save Endangered Mammals
November 2003: Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) has commenced construction of a feral-proof fence that promises to bring seven of the world's rarest mammals back from the edge of extinction.
The fence, which will stretch for more than 45 kilometres through the Mallee woodlands of AWC's Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary, will enclose an area of 8,000 hectares (20,000 acres or 80 square kilometres). When the eradication of feral animals within this area is complete, it will be the largest area on mainland Australia that is free of feral cats, foxes, rabbits, and goats.
AWC, an independent non-profit organisation dedicated to saving Australia's threatened wildlife, plans to re-establish wild populations of at least seven endangered mammals to be released include the Bilby, the Bridled Nailtail Wallaby, the Brush-tailed Bettong, the Greater Stick-nest Rat, the Burrowing Bettong, and the Numbat.
Each of these mammals has disappeared from NSW over the last century, primarily as a result of predication by foxes and feral cats and loss of habitat.
AWC Chief Executive, Atticus Fleming, described the Scotia project as one of the most ambitious wildlife recovery projects in Australia's history.
"Within five years, we hope Scotia will be home to self-sustaining, wild populations of at least seven threatened mammals, all of which are currently listed as 'extinct' in NSW. To return these mammals to the wild in their former range in the Murray-Darling basin would be a historic moment for conservation in Australia.
Australia has the worst mammal extinction record in the world, with 22 extinctions since the European settlement. One of the primary causes of these extinctions has been predation by feral cats and foxes and the competition with introduced species such as the rabbit.
Mr Fleming said that tax deductible donations to AWC were urgently needed to provide for completion of the fence and eradication of all feral animals.
"For every $1,000 we receive in donations, we can construct 100 metres of the feral-proof fence. We need to raise nearly $500,000 over the next few months to ensure completion of the fence by June 2004 and to progress the eradication of feral animals."