There are many exciting moments in the lives of AWC employees, but having morning tea with Sir David Attenborough would have to take the cake.
UK Philanthropy Lead Lizzy Crotty had the pleasure of meeting Sir David and his daughter Susan at their house in London to present AWC’s recently published book celebrating 30 years of effective conservation and discuss AWC’s exciting new partnership announcements.
The highlight of the meeting was presenting Sir David with a specially commissioned painting by renowned artist and Newhaven Warlpiri Ranger Alice Nampijinpa Henwood Michaels. Alice was born at Mt Doreen station, a cattle station about 55 kilometres west of Yuendumu, in the Northern Territory. She is a Warlpiri woman and has been painting with Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation, an Aboriginal-owned and governed art centre in Yuendumu, since 2006. Alice paints her father’s country at Pirlinyanu, about 170 kilometres west of Yuendumu and her grandmother’s country Lappi Lappi, near Lake Hazlett, north-west of Lake Mackay in Western Australia.
Alice and her daughter Christine are core members of the Newhaven ranger team and, for over 15 years, have been integral to the conservation land management and science programs delivered at AWC’s Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary. Together, Alice and Christine are some of Australia’s best cat trackers, skills utilised during the twelve-month task of removing feral predators from Newhaven’s fenced feral predator-free area – one of mainland Australia’s largest feral cat and fox-free safe havens.
To date, this fenced safe haven has seen five threatened and locally extinct species restored to the red centre, and AWC has plans to reintroduce five more in the coming years. Just last week, Bilbies and Burrowing Bettongs were reintroduced, joining the Mala, Red-tailed Phascogales and Brush-tailed Bettongs that reside at Newhaven. AWC’s reintroduction program aims to reverse the severe and ongoing decline in native mammals, a decline primarily driven by predation by feral cats and foxes. With populations of 20 mammals founded, AWC’s reintroduction program is making a major contribution to the conservation of Australia’s threatened animals.
AWC’s relationship with Sir David stems from a meeting with Founder Martin Copley, in which Sir David first became aware of the conservation work undertaken by AWC. He immediately became interested in AWC’s business-like approach to conservation, particularly the ability to construct and maintain large-scale feral predator-free fenced areas across the country.
To acknowledge the importance of the relationship, in 2015 the David Attenborough Field Research Station was officially opened in the rugged sandstone gorges of the Artesian Range – one of the last remaining areas on mainland Australia to have suffered almost no mammal extinctions. The station was named in recognition of Sir David Attenborough’s role in inspiring science-based conservation across the planet.
Maintaining a close relationship with internationally significant environmental ambassadors is a key priority of AWC’s as a global leader in conservation. Sir David was thrilled to hear sanctuary updates and it turns out it is not just the wildlife he enjoys about Australia, he also thoroughly enjoyed the lamingtons!
AWC greatly values our entire community of supporters, partners, volunteers and educators. With your help, we can protect and restore threatened species and ecosystem processes at scale.
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