Australia’s landscapes and wildlife are famous for their dramatic cycles of boom-and-bust in this land ‘of droughts and flooding rains’. Indeed, the deluge experienced across many parts of northern Australia early this year may bring about boom conditions for some wildlife, but for Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) operations and our team, this wet season caused major disruption and hardship. Despite these challenges, the updates in this issue of Wildlife Matters offer inspiration and hope for those of us working to better value and effectively conserve biodiversity, a mission that is now more urgent than ever.
In the face of major floods in the Kimberley, which prompted emergency evacuations from Mornington-Marion Downs and Charnley River-Artesian Range Wildlife Sanctuaries, the AWC family has shown remarkable strength, resilience, and commitment to the cause. Damage was extensive and full recovery will take time, but plans are advancing for the Mornington Restoration Program, returning this conservation icon to its place as one of the most substantial field research stations in northern Australia. Your ongoing support in the aftermath of the Kimberley flood disaster has been profoundly appreciated by all of us at AWC.
Meanwhile, right across Australia our field teams continue to deliver science-informed land management, both at sanctuaries we own and in areas where we work in partnership. Science is at the heart of all that we do. We support fundamental research into threatened and poorly-known species (like the Magnificent Brood Frog) to better understand their ecology and to refine our conservation approach. At the same time, we’re embracing innovative ways to monitor wildlife populations using the best technology available, with camera traps, bioacoustic recorders and drones fast becoming essential additions to our ecologists’ toolkits.
We measure and celebrate good outcomes – through our rigorous Ecohealth monitoring and reporting (including our biodiversity scorecards) – and with stories of success like the long-anticipated banishment of Rambo the fox from the Pilliga, or the critical translocation of the Northern Bettong to a safe haven at Mount Zero-Taravale Wildlife Sanctuary. These consequential projects will help stave off the extinction of some of our most highly threatened species. As a national program, our work to reintroduce threatened species to a network of safe havens is globally significant. Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary will soon see the release of the tenth species to be returned to the site – the Chuditch – setting a new record for the number of species reintroduced in a single large-scale project of this kind.
We are working alongside First Nations Australians to help fulfil our shared vision of healthy Country where wildlife can thrive. At Ngalurrtju in central Australia, we’re establishing a great team as we build on relationships with local communities and get to work with expert rangers to track down species like Tjalapa, the Great Desert Skink.
AWC remains ambitious and forward-looking, with plans to future-proof our field operations against the climate extremes of the current century, while properly safeguarding invaluable resources like the biological samples collected over decades by our scientists.
AWC is working with government too; alongside AWC Chair Nick Butcher, I recently met with Federal Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek to discuss how AWC can help government achieve their national objectives for the conservation of priority species and places. There is a lot more work to be done and significant opportunities for our organisation to contribute.
AWC’s contribution to Australian conservation is increasingly being recognised. I am extremely proud of everything that we’re achieving. We’re making a real difference. Thank you for being a part of the AWC family and for helping us to deliver effective conservation for Australian wildlife.
Read or download this full issue of Wildlife Matters here.