NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Conservation Innovation Protects Australian Mammals

September 30, 2003

Australia has one of the worst records of mammalian extinction in the world -- some 23 species in the last 200 years -- in large part because so many of its species evolved in isolation and were not well-equipped to deal with the introduced cats, foxes and rabbits that came with European settlement, says Michael DeAlessi (Pacific Research Institute).

But with the creation of Earth Sanctuaries, Ltd. (ESL), a nongovernmental organization, conservation strategies began to focus on eradication of introduced species rather than control and on protection of native species in feral-proof enclosures or sanctuaries. This trend has already helped many species to recover:

  • ESL pioneered the use of feral-proof fencing to demonstrate that small native mammals could recover if all non-native predators and competitors were removed.
  • At ESL's Warrawong Sanctuary, numbers of Australia's smallest and rarest kangaroo, the woylie, have increased 200-fold; also, the population of Australia's most primitive kangaroo, the long-nosed potoroo, increased from four to more than 100.

Since its inception in 1985, ESL has dramatically raised the awareness of the plight of Australia's mammals and the threat posed by non-native species. Based on ESL's success, national parks and conservation areas, especially in Western Australia, have changed the way they operate their reserves.

Source: Michael DeAlessi, "Saving Endangered Species Privately: A Case Study Of Earth Sanctuaries, Ltd." Policy Study 313, August 2003, Pacific Research Institute.


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