A conservation area in the Australian state of New South Wales has been declared feral predator-free after a four-and-a-half-year battle to capture a fox dubbed “Rambo’’.
The Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) on Tuesday confirmed it.
It said that Rambo, the last predator living in a fenced area safe haven in the Pilliga State Conservation Area, likely died during flooding.
The AWC now intends to move forward with a wildlife programme which would seek to reintroduce six locally extinct species to Pilliga park.
This includes the greater bilby, the bridled nail-tail wallaby and the brush-tailed bettong.
The organisation said that the last sighting of the fox was on Oct. 9.
“In spite of intensive monitoring and tracking, not a single piece of evidence of his existence has been found.
“This includes searching through thousands of images captured across 97 cameras throughout the fenced area,’’ the AWC said in a statement on Tuesday.
Authorities spent nearly five years trying to remove the elusive predator from the fenced area.
“In spite of an extensive and intensive effort, it is suspected that Rambo met his fate during one of two flooding events that hit the Pilliga in October last year,’’ the statement said.
The European red fox was introduced to Australia for recreational hunting in the mid-1800s, and fox populations became established in the wild shortly after.
Feral cats and foxes have played a major role in the decline of many native animals, including the greater bilby, and are one of the greatest dangers to Australian threatened species. (dpa/NAN)