WHERE ARE WE
The Arid Recovery Reserve is situated approximately 20km north of Roxby Downs, in northern South Australia and is approximately 550km north of Adelaide. The fenced component of the reserve is currently comprised of 123km² of arid land. An additional 200km² of unfenced land adjacent to the Reserve is also being managed to control feral pests.
The reserve is situated partly on the Olympic Dam Mine Lease (7km²) and partly on adjoining pastoral properties including Roxby Downs Station (49km²), Mulgaria Station (1km²), and Stuart Creek Station (66km²) leased by BHP Billiton. The Dog Fence, which runs through the reserve, was re-aligned with assistance from the Dog Fence Board in 2000 and now forms part of the Arid Recovery fence.
Many habitats are present within the reserve including chenopod, (saltbush/bluebush) inter-dunal swales, sandhill wattle and hop bush dunes, native pine and mulga sandplains, canegrass swamps, canegrass dunes, gibber flats with gilgais and claypans.
The Beginning of the AR Reserve - Timing is Everything
In late 1996, the Rabbit Calicivirus Disease - developed and released by the CSIRO for the purpose of controlling rabbits in Australia - reached the Roxby Downs region. Rabbit numbers, which had been recorded at levels as high as 600 per square kilometre in previous years, plunged to less than ten in a very short time.
It was now possible to completely eradicate rabbits from a large-scale reserve, and the founders of Arid Recovery quickly took up the challenge. In order to facilitate manageable and effective rabbit control, the reserve was gradually fenced in sections until the first 60km² was finally enclosed in December 2000. This area is divided into a main 14km² electrified exclosure where endangered species are first re-introduced, two 8km² expansion areas adjoining the main exclosure and a northern 30km² expansion area.
An additional 26km² red lake expansion to the north of the reserve was completed in 2004. This expansion has been fenced with a rabbit, cat and fox proof fence. The expansion is used for research and provides unique opportunities for further research into rabbit control methods, predator prey-interactions and dispersal mechanisms from the current reserve. In 2008, a further 37km² was fenced to the north of the red lake expansion. This area, situated north of the dog fence is called the Dingo Pen and was initially used as a dingo research to determine whether cats and foxes can be controlled naturally using dingoes. After the research project was completed this area all dingoes were removed from the area. It will also be used for predator and prey research in future years.