Largest ever rewilding project launched in South Australia

By Australian Geographic | January 31, 2019

After ten years of planning, the project to construct Australia’s largest rewilding project is currently underway.

TODAY, THE World Wildlife Fund has announced the creation of a ‘safe haven’ in South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula, where they intend on reintroducing 20 native species over the next few decades, mostly mammals.

Australia has one of the highest mammalian extinction rates in the world. According to the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, 30 native mammals have become extinct since European settlement, meaning one out of three mammal extinctions in the last 400 years have occurred in Australia.

With the help of the Northern and Yorke Natural Resources Management and the Federal Government the project will begin constructing the fence around a 130,000 ha area at the southern tip of the peninsula, which they’ve dubbed the “Great Southern Ark.”

“We know at least 27 mammal species were lost from the peninsula because of the clearing of native vegetation for agriculture over the last hundred years,” said Darren Grover, WWF-Australia’s Head of Living Ecosystems.

“This project is our attempt to wind back the clock and return the Yorke Peninsula to its former ecological glory. We hope to use the peninsula as a model for other parts of the country where animal species are facing extinction,” he added.

According to the WWF, the first species to be introduced will be the woylie, an iconic Australian animal that may help the land recover from the impacts of agriculture, as they are known to aerate soil. 

Later on, bilbies, numbats and western quolls will be introduced. “We hope this will bring in tourists, help farmers manage feral pests and increase awareness about how to best protect our native species before they disappear,” Darren said.