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Behind the Scenes with Researchers: Private Conservancy

Duration: Full Day: Arkaba, Flinders Ranges

Type: Private Charter.

Interests: Birds, Land Invertebrates, Land Mammals & Marsupials, Reptiles & Amphibians.

Wild Bush Luxury added Arkaba to its portfolio of luxury tourism destinations in Australia in 2009. By the year 2013, all sheep had been removed from the 60,000 acre property and Arkaba was officially developed into a wildlife conservancy. 

Brendon Bevan has been chief wildlife warrior, conservationist and property manager of Arkaba since 2010. He has led numerous programs to make Arkaba a role model conservation property with a focus on feral species eradication and reversing the effect of years of livestock grazing.

On this experience, guests will assist Brendon and his team in the mission to restore Arkaba’s biodiversity with several hands-on conservation and research activities which may include a trap retrieval morning, tracking a radio-collared feral cat, setting up the trip cameras, recording locations of vegetation critical to endangered animals and joining a land survey on the stunning outback property.

Please note that this behind the scenes tour is only available to guests staying at Arkaba Homestead.

Itinerary

Tour day-by-day

  • Full Day: Research & Conservation

    Since Arkaba started its transformation from a 60,000 acre outback sheep station to private conservancy in 2010, Brendon Bevan, Arkaba’s conservation manager, has been the driving force behind Arkaba’s conservation management program.

    A key strategy in bringing back species to the country involves the eradication of feral predators, most notably foxes and cats. Today, feral cats pose the single greatest threat to Australia’s biodiversity and Brendon has had considerable success in removing them from Arkaba to allow small mammals, certain bird species and reptiles recover across the conservancy.

    Guests will join Brendon to gain insight into the challenges that native wildlife faces and the work being done to control feral cats. Activities could include a trap retrieval morning, tracking a radio-collared feral cat with a telemetry device, setting up the trip cameras that monitor key sites across the property, looking for signs of vegetation critical to endangered animals, or joining a biologist on land surveys.

    These ongoing controls over seven years alongside continued habitat rehabilitation through eradication of invasive non-native plants, arresting of soil erosion and the many monitoring surveys conducted throughout the varying habitats on Arkaba have had some exciting results:

    - 2245 goats removed
    - 358 foxes disappeared
    - 212 feral cats no longer
    - 11,471,950 litres of water saved - assuming 2L water consumed per day per goat
    - 14,339,937kgs of vegetation saved - assuming 2.5kg eaten per day per goat
    - 4,369,050 native animals lived - assuming a conservative figure of 3 native animals consumed per day by both foxes and cats if every fox and cat had been allow to live for the 7 year period.

    The team is already seeing the fruits of this labour, with the return of native species and the regeneration of native habitat. By summer 2012, the team recorded sightings of ten new bird species, including the Stubble Quail, Spotted Nightjars and the Horsfields Bronze Cuckoo. The Gidgee Skink was first spotted in 2011 and there is evidence of several established colonies.

    Yellow-footed Rock-wallabies are listed as "Near Threatened" due to their favoured rocky habitats being invaded by goats, foxes and cats. A 2012 survey of the Elder Range on Arkaba identified two colonies that with continued feral animal control, should spread and re-establish successfully.

    In 2016, Arkaba was proudly announced as one of the three finalists in the ‘Conserving the Natural World’ category of the esteemed National Geographic World Legacy Awards which recognises outstanding support for the preservation of nature, restoring natural habitat and protecting rare and endangered species, whether on land or in the oceans.

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