By Daniel Mercer
Some of WA's most endangered mammals will be moved to a predator-free sanctuary in the Mid West, courtesy of a landmark project to safeguard the State's ecological heritage.
The area is being set up as part of a five-year, $5.3 million plan between Perth-based resources company Top Iron, which wants to mine iron ore in the region, and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy group.
Located near Mt Gibson, about four hours drive north-east of Perth, the project will involve the construction of a 43km fence to "establish the largest fox and cat-free area" on mainland WA.
The sanctuary will span 7800ha.
Central to the plan's success will be the reintroduction of nine native animals that have long since vanished from the area, including bilbies, numbats, woylies and western barred bandicoots.
In a report on the project, AWC said the Mt Gibson area had some of Australia's worst fauna extinction rates, with up to 50 per cent of mammals lost to predators.
AWC chief executive Atticus Fleming said the initiative was groundbreaking and no other wildlife restoration project had increased the population of nine endangered types of mammals.
Mr Fleming said the contribution of Top Iron's biggest shareholder Xiaonian Wu provided an example of the way foreign investment could help conservation.
"This partnership sets a new benchmark for the mining industry in terms of reinvesting the benefits of the mining boom in on-ground conservation," he said.
"Endangered mammals such as the numbat and the woylie have suffered massive population declines in the last decade. More....