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Arkaba's Private Wildlife Conservancy

With the awe inspiring backdrop of the Elder Range and Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges, Arkaba's 60,000 acre private wildlife conservancy is home to a wonderous array of native bird and wildlife and a remarkable conservation story.

In 2009 Wild Bush Luxury added Arkaba to its portfolio of luxury tourism destinations in Australia. Arkaba has previously been a working sheep property since 1851 in the Flinders Ranges in the arid Mid-North of South Australia. Since 2009, we have endeavoured to put in place successful conservation programs across the property, focussing primarily on feral species eradication and reversing the impacts of years of livestock grazing. 

Our aim on Arkaba has been to provide a unique tourism experience with private access for our guests to the extraordinarily diverse 60,000 acre property. Conservation of this environment goes hand in hand with an improved guest experience and so in 2010 we removed the sheep stock from two-thirds of the property, the last of the these sheep were removed in September 2013. The removal of sheep in these newly formed Sanctuary Zones immediately allowed the populations of Red Kangaroo (Marcopus rufus) and Western Grey Kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus) to flourish with increased sightings of both of these almost immediately. 

Controlling the grazing pressure on the land involves the management of all herbivores. Other European exotics to have established themselves in the Flinders include rabbits and goats. Culling of both of these is a priority with participation in an annual aerial goat cull and rabbit warren ripping and baiting. Currently we have removed 1084 feral goats from Arkaba. 

Foxes and cats were also introduced to Australia and have put huge pressure on our small native mammals, birds and reptile populations. Foxes and cats are controlled with baiting, trapping and a nocturnal shooting programme. In our first year of baiting 80% were dug up and eaten by foxes, every year since then the number of baits taken has decreased indicating that so are the fox numbers. As of the end of August 2013, no live fox had been seen for six months. 

Along with baiting, trapping and shooting, heat and motion sensing cameras are often set up at springs and other areas frequented by wildlife. These sensors record wildlife activity and help provide us with a more accurate idea of the species in the area, particularly those that are nocturnal. 

These ongoing controls over 7 years alongside continued habitat rehabilitation through eradication of invasive non-native plants, arresting of soil erosion and the many monitoring surveys conducted throughout the varying habitats on Arkaba have had some exciting results: 

  • 2245 goats removed
  • 358 foxes disappeared
  • 212 feral cats no longer
  • 11,471,950 litres of water saved - assuming 2L water consumed per day per goat if every goat had been allowed to live for the 7 year period
  • 14,339,937kgs of vegetation saved - sassuming 2.5kg eaten per day per goat if every goat had been allowed to live for the 7 year period
  • 4,369,050 native animals lived - assuming a conservative figure of 3 native animals consumed per day by both foxes and cats if every fox and cat had been allow to live for the 7 year period

By summer 2012 we had had confirmed sightings of 10 new bird species including the Stubble Quail (Coturnix pectoralis), Spotted Nightjars (Eurostopodus argus) and the Horsfields Bronze Cuckoo (Chalcites (chrysococcyx) basilis).

Other regular wildlife sightings include daily encounters with Euros (Macropus robustus), Red and Grey Kangaroos, and in the spring and summer some fabulously intriging reptiles including the Gidgee Skink (Egernia stokesii) who was first spotted in 2011 and we now have evidence of several established colonies. 

Yellow-footed Rock-wallabies (Petrogale xanthopus) are listed as Near Threatened due to their favoured rocky habitats being invaded by goats, foxes and cats. A 2012 survey of the Elder Range on Arkaba identified 2 colonies that with continued feral animal control should spread and re-establish successfully. 

At Wild Bush Luxury we make a firm commitment to the principles of sustainability and conservation while hosting guests in this ecologically unique environment. We hope that with continued success of our conservations programs we will see the biodiversity on Arkaba return as closely as possible to that before European settlement.