October 20, 2008— The Nature Conservancy and the Australia Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) have purchased Kalamurina Ranch, a 1.7 million acre property in the heart of the central desert region of Australia. Three key desert rivers converge on this parcel, attracting and supporting a wide range of native species, including the endangered ampurta and the endemic Lake Eyre dragon. The purchase cost of about $1 per acre was funded by the two organizations.
One third of the planet’s mammal species that have gone extinct in the last 400 years have been in Australia.
“We have a tremendous window of opportunity in central and northern Australia,” says AWC Executive Director Atticus Fleming. “This region is considered one of five last great wild places on Earth. Working together like this will enable us to move quickly, before that window closes.”
The new Kalamurina Wildlife Sanctuary links Lake Eyre National Park to the south with the Simpson Desert Regional Reserve to the north — connecting more than 19 million acres of protected land. Even more important is its location at the confluence of three of central Australia’s most important rivers: the Macumbah River and Kallakoopah Creek converge with the Warburton River on Kalamurina before flowing into Lake Eyre — the largest lake in Australia.
“One glance at a map and it’s clear how important Kalamurina is,” says Fleming. “In most parts of the world, a gap this large would look like too big a mountain to climb. But here, with just one acquisition, we were able to fill the gap.”
Located 590 miles north of Adelaide, the property was a cattle ranch, but at very low stocking levels. As a result, much of the habitat on the land is relatively undisturbed. The wetland habitats — rivers and floodplains — of Kalamurina provide oases in the dry landscape of Central Australia and are the most biologically significant areas on the property.
“One of the most important things we can to do help nature survive and adapt to the impacts of climate change is to give plants and animals room to move and, especially here in the desert, access to water,” explains Michael Looker, director of The Nature Conservancy’s Australia Program
AWC will hold ownership and deliver on-ground management in partnership with TNC to improve habitat quality and reduce the effect of competition and predation by feral animals.
“This is a fantastic illustration of the wisdom of working with partners,” says Looker. “We have combined not only funding, but our unique expertise and relationships and the result is an astounding achievement for conservation.”
Australian Wildlife Conservancy is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to conservation of Australia’s threatened wildlife. AWC now owns and manages 20 properties covering more than 6 million acres across Australia. For more information, visit www.australianwildlife.org.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.