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Australia is one of the most biologically diverse countries on earth, with over 80% of flora and fauna species being endemic to this unique environment. The landscape is also one of the oldest on earth and 45 million years of isolation has meant that species here evolved untouched by the upheavals of the world's major continental plates. This isolation has resulted in a highly specialised and very fragile environment.
Since European settlement 200 years ago, the destruction and fragmentation of natural habitats through the clearance of vegetation for agriculture as well as the impact of feral animals and invasive weeds has significantly impacted Australia's biodiversity. Coupled with the hugely varied and often extreme climate and weather distributions, this has left Australia with the highest mammal extinction rate in the world, with 22 species becoming extinct in the 200 years since settlement.
The Flinders Ranges represents an intriguing blend of semi-arid to temperate habitats within mountain ranges that cut into deserts of Outback South Australia. There are a huge variety of landforms in the area, including high ranges, plateaus, gorges, valleys and creek lines as well as floodplains. This has encouraged a huge diversity of wildlife and plant life with about 1200 species of plants and nearly 300 species of birds recorded within the ranges. European settlement and farming brought foreign animals to this fragile landscape and, similarly to other regions of Australia, altered the native biodiversity. Since settlement it is estimated that up to 23 of the 50 mammals thought to have inhabited the area prior to European arrival have become locally extinct in the Flinders Ranges.
Since 2009, Arkaba has been transformed from an outback sheep station with a rich pastoral heritage into a private wildlife conservancy. A myriad of successful conservation programs have been implemented since 2009 focusing on eradicating feral species and reversing the impacts of over 100 years of livestock grazing.
In 2016 Arkaba was announced as one of the three finalists in the Conserving the Natural World category of the esteem National Geographic World Legacy Awards. This category recognises outstanding support for the preservation of nature, restoring natural habitat and protecting rare and endangered species, whether on land or in the oceans.