Martin's Ark

Reporter: Natalie Bonjolo

To save the world's animals from floods, Noah built an ark ... to save them from ourselves, Martin Copley is buying bush. One million hectares. Martin's Ark, "it's a drop in the ocean really, we need a lot more" A million hectares ... twice the size of Bali. but still, not enough land to save Australia's endangered animals. "The life of some of them is hanging by a thread, there are several species across Australia that are really in dire straits" These little creatures are the lucky ones. alive because Martin bought them a home ... a sanctuary where they'd be safe from bulldozers and buildings.

One hour east of Perth, this two hundred and eighty thousand hectares of beautiful bushland is his baby ... it's a far cry from the high flying world of finance, where Martin was Chairman of a multi million dollar financial services company. He dominated the world of insurance, and now the British businessman's taking out insurance for Australia, walking away from big business, to save our wildlife.

It's not as long as the rabbit proof fence, but this one does exactly the same trick. Basically this is a feral proof fence which skirts the whole perimeter of the property, roughly ten kms long. Now it's the reason that this place has been so successful. The fence keeps the nasties out, giving the little creatures inside, a fair go.

It worked so well, Martin bought another five properties, again, the animals thrived. A few years later he founded, what could be one of Australia's most important environmental organisation, the Australian Wildlife Conservancy. With the help of donations, AWC now owns fifteen sanctuaries around the country ... more than a million hectares.

Leader of the Greens Party, Senator Bob Brown only wishes the Government would follow his lead, "he's inspiring in a world where money greed and materialism has us by the throat, and were seeing the extinction of species as a result, at the greatest rate ever" Nowdays, Martin has a team of scientists and wildlife officers working on special projects. He's fiercely proud of their work, which is why he loathes to talk about himself, or his wealth... preferring to keep the spotlight to be on these little fellas. "Jo what are we looking for tonight? Well were probably going to see some woylies, bandicoots, a couple of different wallabies" When her furry friends come out at night, so too does Jo Williams, one Karakamia's full time care takers.

In 1998 they brought the first of these Tamar wallabies here, in the safe haven they thrived, there's now sixty of them. and they're cousin the woylies doing nicely as well ... there's now four hundred and fifty of them in the sanctuary, the biggest number left anywhere in Australia.

"Were these animals the sorts of things we would have seen in our backyards, or in the suburbs years ago? Yeah I mean even things like bandicoots are still in some urban bushland, obviously they're still under a lot of pressure in those areas" Also under pressure, the possum, often forced to find refuge in people's roofs and it's the same story across the country. They're not always as cute and cuddly, but luckily even our most dangerous animals have someone who loves them. the wildlife warrior was only a boy, when his father built a reptile park to protect our crocs ... much like Martin's ark.

If one man's dream can be twice the size of Bali ... imagine the difference government, business, and other organisations could make ... "I think we can turn the tide, and I think we are turning the tide"

For more details contact the Australian Wildlife Conservancy

http://www.australianwildlife.org/

(08) 9226 0304 or (02) 9324 4210