Feature, News from the Field

Global translocation experts gather in Western Australia

10 Nov. 2023

Wildlife translocation specialists from around the world are converging on Fremantle, Western Australia this month for a major conference where AWC’s work will feature prominently. The third International Conservation Translocation Conference brings together scientists and practitioners working with species as diverse as Orangutans, Corrobboree Frogs, Indian Rhinos and Bilbies, as well as threatened plants which have benefited from translocation efforts. Over 60 talks and workshops are scheduled across three days, addressing the theme of the conference: learning from the past, adapting to the future.

Translocations – the act of deliberately moving organisms from one site to another – have been increasingly used to boost dwindling populations and restore species to parts of their range from which they’ve been extirpated. The approach is not without its challenges; translocations are high-cost and logistically complex, and there is a history of failed translocation attempts. However, translocations have also contributed to substantial recovery of many species and even helped prevent extinctions. In Australia, where many small mammal species have been decimated by invasive predators, this approach plays a particularly important role. Locally extinct mammals which have been reintroduced from isolated remnant populations into predator-managed sites or safe havens are able to repopulate and thrive.

Australian Wildlife Conservancy is a leading proponent of wildlife translocations, having reintroduced 23 species to 12 sanctuaries across Australia to date. For example, at Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary in the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia AWC has translocated ten species as part of a project to restore the site’s original mammal fauna. Species like the Brush-tailed Bettong and Numbat have flourished, their abundance documented by regular population monitoring. AWC has other large-scale reintroduction projects in Central Australia and New South Wales that are helping to safeguard threatened species from extinction and restore healthy ecosystems.

Several AWC scientists are speaking at the conference, including ecologists from the south-west region and senior members of the national science team. Senior Ecologist Dr Jenny Pierson will speak about AWC’s work to manage the genetics of reintroduced mammal populations across multiple. Wildlife Ecologist Dr Bryony Palmer will chair two sessions at the conference, one on assisted colonisation to increase species’ resilience to climate change and another on the effect of translocation on ecological communities. Senior Field Ecologist Georgie Anderson, who leads AWC’s science program at Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary, is speaking about habitat suitability analyses for reintroductions. And Dr Jennifer Anson, who heads up AWC’s national program of wildlife reintroductions, will provide an overview of how the organisation’s translocation program has evolved over three decades, with improving outcomes for conservation.

The International Conservation Translocation Conference runs from 13 – 15 November in Fremantle, Western Australia.

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