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Threatened Species Day 2022: Saving Australian Wildlife

Threatened Species Day 2022: Saving Australian Wildlife

September 7, 2022

“As he raised his rifle to his shoulder, moonlight glinted on the cold steel, instantly alerting the she-wolf. With a fleeting sideways glance, she immediately began heading for the safety of the shadows as two shots rang out in quick succession. She yelped loudly, dropping to her haunches, badly wounded but not yet totally disabled. In sheer desperation to escape, she began dragging herself forward by her front legs, her beautiful coat now stained with blood.”

This chilling excerpt from Col Bailey’s compilation of thylacine encounters - Lure of the Thylacine - is a reasonable summary of our historic relationship with both this apex marsupial, and indeed our wider environment. And today is a fitting day to take stock of that.


THREATENED SPECIES DAY AUSTRALIA

On 7 September each year, Australia marks Threatened Species Day - commemorating the death of the last confirmed thylacine in 1936. It is a chance to highlight the plight of our native species, with threats coalescing into a disastrous mix of unavoidable dangers.

But all is not doom and gloom. Whilst our native wildlife has never been more in need of protection, we have also never been better positioned to act.

We know the threats and, often, we know how to confront them.


SAVING AUSTRALIAN FLORA AND FAUNA

FAME’s projects work in partnership with local teams and researchers to protect native wildlife, reintroduce locally-extinct species, regenerate landscapes and habitats, and much more.

Since the death of ‘Benjamin’ the Tasmanian Tiger in 1936, the Australian environment has been under increasing attack from land clearing, invasive species and myriad other issues. Our projects often need to confront a combination of these in order to be successful.

Much as an ecosystem is a dynamic mix of moving parts, a reintroduction can’t succeed in a depleted habitat; restoration can’t occur without the management of pests.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE, TOGETHER

The FAME community has been behind some remarkable successes in conservation, like the reintroduction of the Idnya/Western Quoll to the Ikara-Flinders Ranges in South Australia. This is one of the most successful predator reintroductions globally, and has seen the progression into a translocation of this species to the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges further north.

The Mary River Turtle, racing towards extinction without viable numbers of juveniles in the wild, has been raised in captivity and released to be part of an ongoing monitoring and research program. The Southern Bell Frog is on a similar path via a dedicated breed and release system.

Trees have been replanted in the Daintree Rainforest to restore habitat for the Southern Cassowary; Detector dogs were trained to sniff out evidence of feral cats in a Numbat stronghold in WA; The many endemic species of Lord Howe Island have been protected following a rat eradication program; The list goes on.

What this is evidence of is an inspiring response by the public to the position our native species find themselves in.

On Threatened Species Day 2022, we’re excited to push further with this support, and are announcing a new phase in our long-term partnership on Kangaroo Island (KI) in South Australia.


RESTORING AN ISLAND ECOSYSTEM

A changing climate has led to devastating bushfires on KI, which in turn cleared the way for feral cats to decimate surviving populations. But our long-term partnership with KI Land for Wildlife (KILfW) has enabled us to build relationships with local landholders, and so embark on a new program of invasive species management.

On more than 25,000 hectares of privately-owned property, this project provides the island’s natural wildlife the opportunity to recover, and flourish.

The FAME community’s support has already helped us make tangible improvements to the outlook for one of the endangered species on Kangaroo Island: the KI Dunnart.

This small marsupial was feared extinct after the horrific bushfires that swept across their endemic home range in 2019-20 but, continuing our existing partnership with KILfW, the Foundation put into quick effect a search and monitoring program which revealed surviving individuals.

It also helped document other endangered species, many of which are endemic, and expanded into revegetation and habitat surveys.

It is on the back of that work that we launch this new initiative on Threatened Species Day 2022: Kangaroo Island Wilderness Project - Restoring an island ecosystem.

More than two dozen of the island’s native species are listed on the EPBC Act as Endangered or Vulnerable in the wake of the fires. These include birds, mammals and reptiles like the KI Crimson Rosella, the Southern Brown Bandicoot and the Heath Goanna.

There are many more, and each of them fulfil an important niche.


MANAGING INVASIVE SPECIES

FAME will be funding critical aspects of KILfW’s work over the next 12 months to increase existing monitoring of threatened species on private land, and provide a clearer picture of best management practices for those that are endangered.

Helping these species creates a net benefit to the wider region, and all wildlife that depends on it.

We will also support the ongoing management of problem species including feral cats and pigs, which cause devastating impacts on populations through direct predation and destruction of habitat.

This will all go hand-in-hand with other research, engagement and revegetation efforts to work towards the restoration of this unique, biodiverse area.

We want you to join us, and be part of the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Project.


Learn more about the work on the project page here: Restoring an island ecosystem.