Shark Bay sheep station turned into conservation reserve
A 202,000HA SHEEP station on the edge of the Shark Bay World Heritage Area in Western Australia has been converted into a conservation reserve.
The newly established reserve, Hamelin Station, was purchased by Bush Heritage Australia and will now become a refuge for threatened species, such as the nationally vulnerable Hamelin skink.
The reserve also borders the internationally renowned Hamelin Pool, one of only two places in the world where the living fossils known as marine stromatolites can be found.
Stromatolites on Hamelin Pool at dusk. (Image: Annette Ruzicka)
Hamelin now also fills a gap in protected habitat to complete a 200km corridor of nature reserves in the region to protect rare species such as the malleefowl, western grass wren and western spiny-tailed skink.
A team of 20 scientists recently conducted a week-long ‘bio-blitz’ on the reserve, surveying biodiversity and creating a biological inventory of the new reserve to help guide future management actions.
“It’s an exciting time because Hamelin sits on a transition zone from the biodiversity hotspot in the southwest to the semi-arid rangelands and as such, is the edge of the range of many species,” said Ben Parkhurst, an ecologist with Bush Heritage Australia.
Knob-tailed gecko discovered during the bio-blitz. (Image: Annette Ruzicka)
Ben Parkhurst with a gecko. (Image: Annette Ruzicka)
“Our priorities are to secure the future of Hamelin Station Reserve and, by doing so, improve protection for internationally recognised landscape that is ranked in the top echelon of UNESCO World Heritage Areas,” says Gerard O’Neill, Bush Heritage Chief Executive.
Shark Bay is one of only 21 of the world’s 1052 UNESCO World Heritage Areas that meet all four ‘natural’ criteria.
Hamelin Station Reserve is located on the shores of Shark Bay, with 32km of coastline alongside Hamelin Pool. It is about 100km from the closest township of Denham.
Juvenile spinifex hopping mouse about to be released during the week-long fauna survey. (Image: Annette Ruzicka)
Little long tailed dunnart. (Image: Annette Ruzicka)
Hamelin Station Reserve wildflowers. (Image: Annette Ruzicka)
The Hamelin Station Stay, where the public can now visit and stay. (Image: Annette Ruzicka)
A minni ritchi tree; a quintessentially Hamelin tree scattered across the reserve. (Image: Annette Ruzicka)