Our football sized mammals

Last night we went for a drive about 45 minutes out of Perth to Karakamia Sanctuary.

The sanctuary is named after the red-tailed black cockatoo and they were the first birds we saw on entering the property. It all feels a bit Jurassic Park as you enter: There are impressively electrified fences stretching away on either side, with electronic gates that slowly open onto a gravel road once you press the button to enter.

The fencing – which costs $90,000 a kilometre – is essential for keeping out feral animals such as foxes and cats which are the main predators these days of the smaller fauna once common in our Jarrah forests.

The sanctuary has been in operation since 1992. They enclosed the 275ha and set about removing all the feral predators. When they were convinced they had a feral-free zone, the Australian Wildlife Conservancy started introducing species all but wiped out: Woylies (brush-tailed bettongs), Quokkas, Numbats, Tammar wallabies, quenda (southern brown bandicoots) and so on.

Some – like the woylies – have thrived to the point where they have been captured and sent to other conservatories, others – like the Numbat – have been less successful.

One of the things I found out was how little leaf litter you find in a forest where there are a lot of animals such as quenda. They bury so much of it the forest floor is quite open and clear.

The AWC also practice mosaic burning – especially around the perimeter of the property to protect the animals from a wildfire.

We learned that the Australian bush is not just about kangaroos, echidnas and possums – the three types of animals that have a chance of surviving against foxes and cats (roos are too big, echidnas too spiky and possums too high).

Everytime we stopped the bush came alive with the sound of animals moving in the undergrowth. It was inspiring.

If you are at all inspired, the AWC have 18 sanctuaries around Australia. Absolutely magic.

(And I hope you get as passionate a guide as ours was! Thank you Simon.)

The ironic thing? We didn’t (unusually they said) see any possums while on the walk and it wasn’t until I was driving through my suburb a couple of streets away from home that I saw one crossing the road. Go figure!

Update: Found a tick on my tummy today – it’s so itchy! Bloody nature! Thank goodness we don’t have Limes disease.

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