Australia

New Kakadu National Park strategy to save endangered species

Kakadu rangers and researchers at work in the national park's floodplain - 3 November 2014 Image copyright Michael Douglas
Image caption The new strategy has been developed by one of Australia's leading wildlife experts

The Australian government says it will target fire, weeds and feral animals in a new strategy to protect threatened species at Kakadu National Park.

The plan, revealed on Monday, will create a wildlife refuge on an island off the Northern Territory coast.

It will be funded by a government investment of A$750,000, on top of the park's annual A$17m (£9m; $15m) budget.

Kakadu has more than 75 threatened species, but it has seen a decline in numbers over the last decade.

The Threatened Species Strategy was developed primarily by leading wildlife expert Professor John Woinarski.

"Over recent decades, we've witnessed major declines in the previously extraordinarily rich biodiversity of Kakadu," Prof Woinarski said.

Senator Simon Birmingham, the parliamentary secretary for the environment, says the strategy means more on-ground work to control direct threats such as feral cats, pigs, buffalo, weeds and fire.

The plan will see the expansion of a project that "teaches" quolls to avoid eating the poisonous cane toad.

Image copyright Jonathan Webb
Image caption The number of quolls, carnivorous marsupials, has declined rapidly in recent decades

Seeds from threatened plants will also be saved so that they can be propagated.

"The park will continue its landscape-scale work to keep habitats healthy but boost it with targeted intensive effort to reduce threats and support threatened species recovery," Senator Birmingham said.

The strategy is part of a project by the Northern Australia Hub of the government's National Environmental Research Program.

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