At sites such as Dryandra Woodland, Peron Peninusla, Lorna Glen and Perup, The department is reconstructing the original balance and mix of animals, and therefore the ecological processes, through Western Shield.

The loss of a native animal species can severely damage the ecology of an area.

  • For example, a single pdfwoylie (Bettongia penicillata ogilbyi) can turn over nearly five tonnes of soil each year searching for underground, truffle-like fungi. This activity:
    • disperses fungal spores that assist plant growth
    • helps leaf litter decomposition, reducing fuel loads (reducing risk of bushfires) and higher nutrient recycling
    • allows water to penetrate better into otherwise water-repellent soil
    • improves seed germination.
  • Woylies are also very important for some plants, such as sandalwood (Santalum spicatum), as they help spread and germinate their seeds by burying them for 'later'.

Captive breeding

Western swamp tortoise - Photo © Parks and Wildlife

Captive breeding programs are suitable for some threatened species where numbers are very low in the wild. The Department of Parks and Wildlife has captive breeding facilities at Dryandra Woodland.

Captive-bred animals may be released into the wild to boost existing populations or establish new populations. This takes a lot of planning and consideration of animal welfare, and genetic issues are critical to the success of captive breeding.

The department also works closely with Perth Zoo's captive breeding program. For example, since 1989, more than 600 western swamp tortoises (Pseudemydura umbrina)reared at Perth Zoo have been returned to the wild.

Translocation

Translocation—reintroducing captive-bred or other animals to re-establish or boost populations in the wild—is used to help threatened species recover.

The success of translocations relies heavily on Parks and Wildlife being able to control predators through Western Shield. Translocations take a lot of planning. Western Shield provides the umbrella under which everyone involved, such as Parks and Wildlife managers, scientists and species recovery teams, can work together. Consideration is gven to animal welfare and population genetics for long-term success.

More than100 animal translocations have been carried out throughout the State since 1996 under Western Shield. It has also provided animals for translocation programs in other states.

 

'Return to 1616': a success story

The 'Return to 1616' project aims to restore the vegetation and habitats of Dirk Hartog Island National Park.

The island has experienced significant changes since Dirk Hartog landed there on 25 October 1616. Sheep and goats changed the vegetation, while efficient new predators, feral cats, added to the pressures on native species, leading to the local extinction of several species of small mammals.

'Return to 1616' brings hope. With the removal of sheep and most of the goats, as well as a cat eradication program, habitats are returning to how they would have appeared to Dirk Hartog in 1616. When the cats are gone, animals that couldn't survive the changes brought by introduced species since 1616 will be returned.