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What the Papers Say

Funds to plan rare species' return

he Federal Government will provide $185,682 of funding for research into the reintroduction of nine of Australia's most threatened mammal species at the Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary.

The sanctuary, managed by conservation group Australian Wildlife Conservancy, is mainland WA's largest feral fox and cat-free area, a 7800ha space protected by 43km of conservation fencing.

Chief executive Atticus Fleming said over the past 18 months, the organisation had already completed initial reintroductions of eight species.

These included the bilby, numbat, woylie, western barred bandicoot, Shark Bay mouse, redtailed phascogale, greater sticknest rat and banded hare-wallaby.

The group also plans to reintroduce the chuditch, also known as the western quoll, a small carnivorous marsupial.

"No other site in Australia has ever reintroduced eight threatened mammal species, so it's a new benchmark for the entire country," Mr Fleming said.

"The research that's being partfunded by this grant is looking at a range of things, including trialling different release techniques.

"Reintroductions are a very risky project, so it's about how do you maximise your success when you're reintroducing very endangered animals.

We're reintroducing animals that disappeared over the last 100 years, and when you do that, you've got to re-learn what habitats these animals like, what they need to survive, all those sorts of questions." 

Mr Fleming said the project would restore Mt Gibson to how it was when European explorers first mapped the landscape about two centuries ago.

"When the early explorers went through this country, they saw these animals everywhere - the bush was alive with them. Now it's basically empty," he said.

"Visiting Mt Gibson is going to be like stepping back in time, because these little animals will be out in abundance.

"We are in the process of putting in place decent campgrounds and everything else for people to get out, stay and experience it." 

Federal Member for Durack Melissa Price recently announced the funding, to be delivered through the Federal Government's $145 million National Environmental Science Program.

"Reintroductions to a safe haven free of introduced predators are highly effective at conserving threatened mammals and a key action of the Threatened Species Strategy," Ms Price said.

The project has also received funding from Lotterywest, the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council and the State Government through the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.

Source: Mid-West Times 

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