Marna Banggara: Creating a safe haven for native species
Marna Banggara, formerly known as the Great Southern Ark, is an ambitious project that aims to restore southern Yorke Peninsula's spectacular landscape.
By returning locally extinct species to the area, we hope to reinvigorate the ecological processes that ensure the bushland's health and provide flow-on benefits to agriculture and the local economy.
Now, after ten years of Community Action Planning and engagement, Marna Banggara is quickly building momentum. The first species is on track for translocation in autumn 2021 and our team is continuing its work to control foxes and feral cats, which pose the biggest threat to native species. A 25km fence that crosses the Peninsula to limit future predator invasion is also close to completion.
The Brush-tailed Bettong will be the first species returned to southern Yorke Peninsula, followed by three more over the next 20 years, creating a safe haven for some of Australia's most threatened species.
Brush-tailed Bettongs will be the first locally extinct native species returned to southern Yorke Peninsula. Photo credit: Zoos SA
Why southern Yorke Peninsula?
Known as the 'foot', southern Yorke Peninsula has distinctive geography that makes it an ideal location for the reintroduction of native species. Surrounded by sea on three sides and with uninterrupted farmland to the north, the 170,000-hectare 'mainland island' provides an isolated area with large areas of high quality native vegetation.
Our team recently selected five sites in remnant vegetation for next year's first translocation. Brush-tailed Bettongs will arrive from Western Australia and take up residence in dense, shrubby scrubland, where they can find shelter and a plentiful source of leaf litter and sticks for nest building.
Ensuring a safe return
The biggest threat for the returned native species is exotic and feral predators, including foxes and feral cats. Landscape-scale fox control work began about 15 years ago to prepare for the return of Tammar Wallabies to Innes National Park and continues today.
Construction of a 25-kilometre fence across the foot of the Peninsula will limit these animals re-entering the project area and together with continued predator management, is expected to support agricultural productivity, by improving lamb survival rates.
Benefits to agriculture and the local economy
Marna Banggara aims to reintroduce Brush-tailed Bettongs, Southern Brown Bandicoots, Red-tailed Phascogales and Western Quolls, as well as augment the Peninsula’s population of Barn Owls.
It is anticipated that small native predator species, like the Red-tailed Phascogale, Western Quoll and Barn Owl, will benefit agriculture through the control of rabbits and house mice. Less mice will reduce crop damage and baiting costs, while controlling feral cats will reduce the occurrence of toxoplasmosis and sarcosporidiosis in the environment.
In time, it is hoped that the Peninsula's status as an ecotourism destination will flourish, with increasing tourist numbers boosting the Yorke Peninsula's economy.
The Great Southern Ark project was renamed Marna Banggara to recognise the Narungga People, the Traditional Custodians of Guuranda (Yorke Peninsula).
The terms originate from Narungga dialect with marna meaning ‘healthy or prosperous’ and banggara signifying ‘Country’, reflecting the project’s aim to achieve improved economic and agricultural outcomes by enhancing biodiversity and the health of the district’s natural systems.
For further information about the Marna Banggara project, contact the Northern and Yorke Landscape Board in Clare on 8841 3400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Northern and Yorke Landscape Board
National Landcare Program, Department for Environment and Water, WWF Australia, Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife. Also: Regional Development Australia, South Australian Tourism Commission, Zoos SA, FAUNA Research Alliance, BirdLife Australia, Nature Conservation Society of SA, Narungga Nation Aboriginal Corporation, Primary Producers SA, Primary Industries and Regions SA, Conservation Volunteers Australia, Legatus Group, Yorke Peninsula Council, Yorke Peninsula Tourism, Scientific Expedition Group