TheNatural History Society of South Australia was formed in 1960 by a group of environmentalists keen to promote and raise public awareness of conservation and preservation of indigenous Australian flora and fauna through the maintenance and re-establishment of natural ecosystems and wiser land use.
Drought is a regular occurrence in much of South Australia, placing natural pressures on the native flora and fauna. However, when combined with inappropriate land clearing and habitat destruction, drought can lead to local extinction of native species.
In 1968, during a severe drought, wombat enthusiasts Mr and Mrs Jack Conquest approached the Society to launch an appeal. With tremendous public support and generosity, the appeal was a great success and raised the funds to establish the first Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat sanctuary, theMoorunde Wildlife Reserve.
MoorundeWildlife Reserve is located about 100 km northeast of Adelaide, between Blanchetown and Swan Reach. The 1968 public appeal allowed the Society to purchase an area of about 2,000ha. In 2006, generous members and the Society's patron helped fund the purchase of an additional 4,900 ha, bringing the total area of Moorunde Wildlife Reserve to almost 7,000 ha.
The Society has also been gifted three additional properties in the vicinity of Moorunde, all to be maintained as wildlife reserves:Nardoo (190 ha), Lake Short (34 ha) and Malurus (30 ha).
These reserves are located inmallee habitat on the western Murray plains, land between the Mount Lofty Ranges and the Murray River. This area is in the rain-shadow of the Mount Lofty Ranges so consequently rainfall is very low. The average annual rainfall is only about 250mm – around half that of Adelaide.
The area regularly experiences numerous consecutive years of drought with well below average rainfall. Native animals endemic to the area have evolved in these conditions. However, inappropriate land clearing in, what is at best, marginal farming land, introduced (often toxic) weeds and grazing competition from other animals all add to the pressure of daily survival.
Reduced, fragmented populations of Southern Hairy-nosed Wombats are now at higher risk of local extinction. By establishing and maintaining sanctuaries like Moorunde, these animals are given a chance to at least survive and possibly one day even thrive.
The majestic Wedge-tailed Eagle (Aquila audax) is the emblem of the Natural History Society of South Australia. In 1960, members mounted a campaign to prevent the destruction of these birds by pastoralists. The campaign was successful and the Wedge-tailed Eagle is now rightfully a protected species.
Secretary: Karen Collins
Phone: 0419 353 803 or 0417 881 658
PO Box 410, BLACKWOOD SA 5051