AWC Wins Biodiversity Award for protecting the endangered Woylie
December 2009: The AWC has been honoured with the 2009 WA Environment Award for Biodiversity Conservation.
The award recognises AWC’s success in delivering effective conservation for the endangered Woylie (or Brush-tailed Bettong) at Karakamia Wildlife Sanctuary. It is the second year in a row that AWC has won the Biodiversity Category (we were a joint winner last year for our Faure Island project).
The Woylie is one of Australia’s most endangered mammals. Originally widespread across almost the entire southern half of the continent, by the 1970’s the Woylie had contracted to three small populations in the south-west. The species then made a comeback during the 1980s and early 1990s in response to fox control under the Western Shield program. However, since 2000 the Woylie population has suffered a catastrophic decline of around 80%.
There is no consensus on the causes of this decline, although AWC believes the key factor is predation by feral cats. AWC’s founder, Martin Copley, began the process of establishing Karakamia in 1991. By 1994, the feral-proof fence had been constructed around the sanctuary and the first translocation of Woylies to Karakamia was carried out. In this fox and cat-free environment, the population of Woylies in the forests of Karakamia increased to 450-500 animals, where it remains today. Even when the Woylie population began to plummet elsewhere in the south-west, the species continued to thrive under AWC’s stewardship at Karakamia.
In fact, Karakamia has played a key role in seeking to repopulate other areas, with over 600 Woylies transferred from Karakamia to national parks and other AWC sanctuaries including Scotia.
The Karakamia population is now the only high density population of Woylies in Western Australia that is not in steep decline. With help from our supporters, AWC is playing a key role in saving this species from extinction.
We thank our many partners who have assisted with the Karakamia project including the WA Department of Environment and Conservation who provided the original animals for release at Karakamia.