St Andrew Island
St Andrew Island in the Lalang-garram /
Camden Sound Marine Park.
Photo – Lesley Gibson

The Kimberley islands support plants and animals found nowhere else. They are refuges for native species that have disappeared from, or are threatened on, the mainland by fire, introduced animals and weed invasion.

A major biological survey of Kimberley islands conducted by the Department of Parks and Wildlife, with support from the Western Australian Museum and Australian Museum and traditional owners, has confirmed that almost all are free of introduced animals and weeds, and that they are less subjected to fire than the mainland.

A terrestrial biological survey by the Department of Parks and Wildlife, the Kimberley Land Council and Western Australian Museum on 24 of the largest north-west Kimberley islands discovered the agile wallaby, red-cheeked dunnart and western chestnut mouse on some islands. The survey more than doubled the number of vertebrate animal and plant species known to occur on the islands, and discovered new populations of many important species. Thirty-eight of the Kimberley’s 76 mammal species were found on these islands. Each island also had at least one unique species of land snail.

Further survey work on Kimberley islands is ongoing, including several surveys by Parks and Wildlife in partnership with the traditional owners. To date, 67 new populations of threatened plants and animals have been identified on Kimberley islands including previously unknown populations of threatened species such as northern quolls, golden bandicoots and golden-backed tree-rats. A total of 48 new native plant species have been described as a result of the Kimberley islands surveys.