Kangaroo Island Refuge Launched to Protect Endangered Wildlife

The Western River Refuge on Kangaroo Island has been officially launched by South Australian Minister for Environment and Water, David Speirs, on 26 February 2021. The new refuge is jointly managed by Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC), Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife (KI LfW) and private landholders. It provides a critical safe-haven for the island’s threatened wildlife and is playing a critical role saving Australia’s most endangered mammal, the Kangaroo Island Dunnart (KI dunnart), following last summer’s catastrophic bushfires.

After the bushfires burned through 93% of the KI dunnart’s range on Kanagroo Island, AWC identified one last patch of bush within which a small population of dunnarts was present. AWC mobilized very quickly and working in partnership with Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife (KI LfW) and the local landholders (the Doube family), erected a fence to secure that population and keep the pressure of feral cats off them.

Following that project, AWC and partners moved on to the next stage for the recovery of the dunnarts and took measures to increase the refuge to a size of 370 hectares of protected habitat.

Feral cats are the single main threat to many native species in Australia and the main way to manage this pressure is to build and maintain large areas of feral predator free fenced areas. The larger predator free area, called the Western River Refuge, was completed in December 2020 and officially inaugurated in the presence of David Speirs, South Australian Minister for Nature and Water and Tim Allard, AWC Chief Executive Officer.

Apart from the KI dunnarts, already seen reproducing at the site, the fenced area is also protecting numerous other threatened species including the KI Echidna, the Heath Goanna, Southern Brown Bandicoot, Bassian Thrush, Western Whipbird and the Southern Emu-wren.

Fondation Segré is among a number of donors that have supported the building of the fence to secure these species. Watch a short video about this story here: https://tinyurl.com/3ukkev68 or read the full story on AWC’s website here: https://www.australianwildlife.org/kangaroo-island-wildlife-refuge/