A project to protect Dryandra’s numbat populations has received a national conservation award presented in the presence of the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle.
The fight to conserve WA’s animal emblem, the numbat, has received a royal boost with Dryandra’s Numbat Task Force receiving the Conservationist of The Year Award.
Numbat Task Force went from being “a joke” among friends to receiving the prestigious national award from the Australian Geographic Society and meeting one of the world’s most prominent figures — Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex.
Founders of Numbat Task Force, Robert McLean and John Lawson, accepted the award on Friday, October 26, for their campaign which prevented the Great Southern Regional Waste Group from establishing a landfill only kilometres away from Dryandra woodlands in 2015.
They also managed to gift the Duchess of Sussex a stuffed toy numbat as a way promoting the fight to save the highly endangered species.
Mr McLean said that if the landfill had gone ahead, it would have drawn more cats to the area and devastated the local Dryandra numbat population.
Mr McLean, speaking to The Observer on World Numbat Day, said that feral predation and budget cuts posed the biggest risks to numbats, which number less than 1000.
“People have got to want to do it (save numbats) and people have got to want to make governments do it,” he said.
“It’s got to be people, write to your ministers, tell them what you think, the whole community has got to want to save the environment and the animals that live within it.”
The fight to prevent the landfill in Cuballing was Numbat Task Force’s first “hands on” campaign; initially started as a social media page to promote and advocate numbat conservation.
Recently the group has raised $350,000 to train a cat detection dog that will help authorities manage feral cat populations.
It’s got to be people, write to your ministers, tell them what you think. Robert McLean
Meghan Markle holding Numbat Task Force’s gift and Dick Smith.
John Lawson and Robert McLean in Dryandra.
Numbats sheltering in the forest.
A numbat spotted on World Numbat Day in Dryandra.