Rewilding SA’s Yorke Peninsula With Locally-Extinct Species

Nov 26, 2021by Olivia - F&F

After being locally-extinct for more than a century, the Brush-tailed Bettong has been reintroduced into Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula! It’s all part of the Marna Banggara Project, which aims to reintroduce four locally-extinct species back onto the spectacular Yorke Peninsula within the next two decades.

Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park 

If you’ve ever looked at a map of South Australia, you’ve probably seen three peninsulas sitting adjacent to one another: Eyre, Yorke and Fleurieu. The Yorke Peninsula is special for many reasons, mainly its unusual foot-like structure.

At the “foot” of Yorke Peninsula lies Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park; a, breathtaking area filled with native vegetation, winding roads, gusty clifftops, and ferocious waves. Since settlement, 95% of its native mammal fauna has been lost. 

Brush-tailed Bettongs, for example, once occupied 60% of mainland Australia and much of the Yorke Peninsula, but a combination of habitat loss and predation have pushed the rare marsupial to the brink of extinction. Now, thanks to the Marna Banggara Project, there’s renewed hope.

Marna Banggara Rewilding ProjectMarna Banggara Rewilding Project

The Marna Banggara Project Will Reintroduce Four Native Species

Marna Banggara is an ambitious project that aims to reintroduce locally-extinct species and restore ecological processes over a twenty-year period.

During its 20 year timeline, it’s expected that 4 key native species will be introduced back into Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park: Brush-tailed Bettongs, Southern Brown Bandicoots, Red-tailed Phascogales, and Western Quolls. If successful, the Marna Banggara Project will develop a safe haven for some of Australia’s most threatened species; improve the health of the Yorke Peninsula’s bushland; support agricultural productivity, and strengthen the local economy! These reintroduced native species will make their home next door to farms, popular beaches and towns.

Marna Bangarra Yorke PennisulaMarna Bangarra Yorke Pennisula

How Will Marna Banggara Unfold Over The Next 20 Years?

The first stage of the project began in 2019-2020 with the construction of a 25-kilometre predator-proof fence. The 1.8m high fence, running North-South on the “foot” of the Yorke Peninsula, actively deters feral animals from entering the area.

Over the next couple of years, the Marna Banggara Project will see the growth of the Brush-tailed Bettong and Barn Owl populations. From 2024-2028, two more species will be introduced to the rewilding area: the Southern Brown Bandicoot and the Red-tailed Phascogale. Finally, from 2019-2033, we’ll see the reintroduction of the Western Quoll.

Each of these native species was chosen to serve a specific ecological function. Together, they will help to re-establish the natural ecological processes that once existed!

Brush Tailed BettongBrush Tailed Bettong

Recently, 40 Brush-Tailed Bettongs Were Reintroduced Into SA! 

In late August, 40 little Brush-tailed Bettongs were released in two locations within Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park! The 28 females and 12 males were translocated from nearby Wedge Island, which is home to around 1,500 Bettongs. 

According to Yorke Peninsula Mayor, Darren Braund, the release represented a significant milestone in the Marna Bunggara re-wilding project. “It’s been 100 years since we’ve seen Brush-tailed Bettongs in the wild on mainland South Australia. Today, we celebrated the release of 40 bettongs".

If the first release proves successful, we’ll see 80 West Australian Bettongs and 80 South Australian Bettongs set for translocation during the next two years. 

Dhilba Guuranda Innes National Park Yorke PeninsulaDhilba Guuranda Innes National Park Yorke Peninsula

The Marna Banggara Project is An Australian-First

Marna Banggara is the first project of its kind in Australia! The 150,000-hectare safe haven — comprising Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park, bushland, conservation parks, farmland and small townships — is an unprecedented example of how rewilding principles can be applied in a populated setting. In time, the rewilding project will actually benefit Yorke Peninsula’s status as an ‘eco-tourism’ hotspot!

The Marna Banggara Project is about helping nature to help itself. “Many of our native plants need native animals to survive and thrive, so when we restore lost species to the landscape, we help to regenerate Australia and re-establish the relationships that allow nature to flourish,” says Darren.

Marna Banggara is a massive collaborative effort between Traditional Custodians, local landholders, farmers and more!

We’re thrilled to see the return of the Brush-tailed Bettong back onto South Australian soil — but this is only the beginning! Soon, Dhilba Guuranda-Innes National Park will be populated with native species that were previously extinct in the area, which we think is pretty exciting. 

Head on over to the Marna Banggara to learn more about this wonderful project!

For more updates in the world of wildlife conservation, check out the Eco News category and the blogs below. 

BOS Australia Is Rehabilitating & Releasing Orangutans Into The Forests Of Borneo

ZEALANDIA Is Restoring New Zealand’s Flora & Fauna

Rewilding The Galápagos Islands

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