Channel Seven’s Sunday Night features AWC’s Artesian Range in “The Land that Time Forgot”
Explore AWC's Artesian Range Wildlife Sanctuary in the Kimberley.
The Artesian Range in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia has been dubbed a 'land that time forgot'. Its hidden valleys and canyons have remained virtually untouched by modern civilisation, leaving a haven for some of the most fragile of our country's small mammals.
It's perhaps the only place in Australia where not one species of mammal has gone extinct since European settlement, despite the catastrophic decline in small mammals across the rest of northern Australia.
According to independent studies, even in the showcase Kakadu National Park, small mammal populations have declined by more than 75% in the last 15 years. Now, the same threat faces the Artesian Range, until now a last-stand refuge for rare creatures like the Golden Bandicoot and Northern Quoll, which have disappeared from Kakadu.
Reporter Alex Cullen travelled to the remote Range with the small, passionate band of conservationists from Australian Wildlife Conservancy who are helping these animals stave off extinction. Controlled burns, wildlife tagging and monitoring of feral cats are all part of the strategy to keep these vulnerable populations thriving.
AWC chief scientist Dr Sarah Legge showed Cullen the contents of one feral cat's stomach - seven native animals from one night's catch. With an approximate two million feral cats loose in Northern Australia, this equates to 14 million native animals killed by feral cats every single night.
The cats often use wildfires as a hunting tool, stalking the outskirts of a fire and pouncing upon native animals as they emerge from the flames. But Legge, AWC chief executive Atticus Fleming and their team are outsmarting the feral animals, using a painstaking system of controlled burns early in the dry season. The small, scattered fires created leave plenty of cover for the native creatures to evade marauding cats.