Australia’s Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary is bringing hope to endangered native animals by protecting them from invasive, feral predators. As the largest fully fenced wildlife sanctuary in the world, it is giving threatened species a chance to return to sustainable population densities.
One species of note is the rufous hare-wallaby, also known as the mala, which once thrived in the Central Desert until it became a target prey for the feral cat and red fox.
Dr. John Kanowski, the Chief Science Officer for the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, told ABC News many species homed in the protected area wouldn't be able to survive in their natural habitat.
“There’s about 10 to 20 species that will only survive in areas like we’re establishing here at Newhaven, where [they] are completely free of feral cats and foxes.”
Research suggests that due to Australia’s uniquely adapted biodiversity, its native animals are particularly vulnerable to invasive species. One research paper from 2015 states that 30 out of the world’s 84 mammalian extinctions since the year 1500 have occurred in Australia, with 29 occurring after European colonisation. Invasive feral predators are implicated in 28 of those 29 extinctions.
The Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary encompasses 100,000 hectares of protected animal habitat (nearly the size of Hong Kong) and is located roughly 300 kilometres outside of Alice Springs. Thirty healthy adult mala have been recently reintroduced into the area, and nine other threatened mammal species will soon follow.
Joe Schofield, manager at the sanctuary, told ABC News the animals stood to benefit greatly from the protected areas.
“They’ll actually be living in a space bigger than what their home range is, so in a sense it’s their return to the wild," Schofield said.
We're in a situation now where the population can start to increase so significantly that we'll have numbers of this animal again in Australia that we haven't seen for decades."
- Help protect animal habitats by planting native trees in your area! Check out the National Tree Day website to host or join a planting event.
- Enjoy viewing the incredible native wildlife Australia has to offer by visiting a national park! Visit Parks Australia for more details.
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