New Australian national park the size of Las Vegas home to 12 threatened species

An aerial view of the Comeroo Station national park, showing red sand and green trees

Australia’s newest national park — Cameroo Station — spans over 144 square miles, roughly the same size as the city of Las Vegas, NV. 

The park, which is set to open to the public in late 2024, is also home to 158 native species 

A survey, conducted in March 2024 by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, found 109 bird, 22 reptile, 13 frog, and 14 mammal species in total — 12 of which are threatened or endangered. 

“Finding 12 threatened species within Comeroo Station is incredibly exciting and these surveys mark the crucial first step in the journey of transforming this extraordinary property into a national park, ensuring its protection for generations to come,” explained Penny Sharpe, the Australian minister for climate change and the environment, in a press release

Two pink cockatoos sit on a piece of metal in a body of water
Pink cockatoos. Photo courtesy of Alex Pike/Australia DPIE

“The abundance of wildlife in this pocket of NSW is truly remarkable, especially the diverse bird species which call it home.”

Of the species surveyed, the Eastern fat-tailed gecko, South-eastern hooded robin, and pink cockatoo are endangered. 

Nine more — including the little pied bat, the towering Brolga bird, and the mousey stripe-faced dunnart — are threatened species, according to Australian legislation. 

“Endangered species face a very high risk of extinction in Australia in the near future, and require urgent conservation efforts to prevent their extinction,” a NPWS spokesperson told Western Plains

“Vulnerable species face a high risk of extinction in NSW in the medium-term future,” they continued. “While not as critical as endangered species, they still need protection to ensure their survival.”

The head of a brolga
The head of brolga. Image via Sam Schmidt (CC BY 2.0)

Across the board, the main reason for the animals’ declining population rates lies in deforestation and agricultural production. 

For example, the pink cockatoo was only just added to the endangered species list in 2023, due to the destruction of its key habitat. 

“Queensland’s high vegetation clearing rate was one of the major causes of the cockatoo’s endangered status, resulting in loss of old hollow-bearing trees,” Susan Fuller, professor at QUT’s school of biology and environmental science, told the Australian Wildlife Conservancy

A stripe-face dunnart sits on the red rocky terrain of Australian national park
Stripe-face dunnart. Photo courtesy of James Val/UNSW

Found in the Australian outback, the park is located in the traditional Paroo and Warrego River country of the Muruwari, Budjiti, Kunja, Gurnu, and Baarkandji people. 

Due to its cultural ties, the park also serves as a historical site, protecting important artifacts like ancient wells and sacred stone arrangements. 

The park — rich with wetlands, swamps, and healthy river systems — is vital to the animals that live there, including the plentiful waterbird species. 

“Permanent protection of this site is fantastic news for biodiversity and especially for waterbirds,” said Richard Kingsford, director of the center for ecosystem science at UNSW Sydney.

Sharpe agreed, celebrating the NPWS’ achievement in protecting the area by transforming it into a national park. 

A map of Comeroo Station in Australia
A map of Comeroo Station, in relation to other area parks. Photo courtesy of UNSW

“Wetlands are some of the most endangered ecosystems on the planet, which is why this acquisition is so important,” said Sharpe. “The construction of visitor experiences and driving tours will help people explore this vast new park.”

The NPWS also believes there’s more to be explored when it comes to their conservation research. 

“There are likely more threatened species out there, we hope to pick up over time,” said a spokesperson for the NPWS.

Header image courtesy of Joshua J. Smith Photography/UNSW

Article Details

June 21, 2024 12:39 PM
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