Conservationists and landholders unite to protect critically endangered Central Rock-rat

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Bush Heritage Hewitt

 

The critically endangered Central Rock-rat has been sighted on Hewitt’s Narwietooma property following ecological surveys conducted in partnership with Bush Heritage Australia. The discovery highlights the importance of collaboration between private land conservation groups and agricultural producers to protect ecosystems. 

Once thought extinct, the Central Rock-rat (Zyzomys pedunculatus) has disappeared from over 95% of its pre-European distribution across Central Australia. Conservationists now estimate that fewer than 650 individuals remain in the wild and the species has been identified by the Australia Government as a ‘priority species’ under the Threatened Species Strategy. 

In 2023, Bush Heritage Australia conducted ecological surveys on 14 of Hewitt’s properties across New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory, providing the first detailed assessment of biodiversity across Hewitt’s more than 2 million hectares of landholdings. 

While the surveys focused predominantly on vegetation communities, Bush Heritage ecologists were thrilled to discover the Central Rock-rat along with three other threatened fauna species on Hewitt properties: the Vulnerable Black-footed Rock Wallaby, Julia Creek Dunnart and Great Desert Skink.

“It’s exciting to have confirmed sightings of the Central Rock-rat, because now we can work closely with Hewitt to ensure the population can thrive,” said Bush Heritage ecologist Matt Appleby. 

“Animals don’t recognise lines on maps, so it’s important that conservationists work hand in hand with agricultural producers towards a shared goal of protecting ecosystems.”

Mick Hewitt, CEO and Managing Director of Hewitt, agrees: “Hewitt recognises the importance of responsible stewardship of the land, especially as it relates to biodiversity and ecosystems. We are pleased to work with Bush Heritage Australia on this vital conservation project.”

The results of the surveys provide a better understanding of which plant communities exist across Hewitt properties such as Narwietooma, and with this knowledge Hewitt will be able to manage the land in a way that improves the ecosystems and provides crucial habitat for the Rock-rat, and other threatened species.

Bush Heritage Australia is a leading not-for-profit conservation organisation that protects ecosystems and wildlife across the continent. We use the best science, conservation and right-way knowledge to deliver landscape-scale impact. We’re on the ground, working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the agricultural sector to make sure our impact is deep, sustainable and collaborative. For more information on Bush Heritage Australia, click here

Hewitt is a leading Australian food producer, with a fully integrated supply chain and ecosystem. Hewitt is a fourth-generation family business that understands the importance of treating the land, animals and people well. Hewitt’s purpose is to feed the world with a system that lasts forever, with a mission to become the world’s most sustainable meat company. Today, the Hewitt family business footprint spans more than 5.6 million acres of rich agricultural land, 15 properties, over 270 employees, supporting over 200,000 livestock. For more information visit www.hewittfoods.com

 

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