It’s not a Guinness world record yet, but Australia has built what is reportedly the world’s longest cat-proof fence. Conservationists are hoping the 27.3-mile fence bordering the Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary in central Australia will help save endangered animals like the mala, a type of small wallaby, from feral cats and foxes, reports the BBC. The mala, a marsupial that looks a bit like a cross between a rabbit and a rat, is one of Australia’s most endangered mammals, with about 4,000 animals in existence on the mainland, reports the Independent. Eleven different endangered species, including the mala, western quoll, golden bandicoot, bilby, and numbat, will be reintroduced as part of a "rewilding" campaign after the area has been cleared of cats and other predators, starting in 2019.
Atticus Fleming, chief executive of the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, which now manages the sanctuary, tells the BBC that the 50 or 60 cats near the refuge “would eat over 70,000 native animals a year.” The fence, which is ultimately planned to be extended another 84 miles, “is one of the most important conservation infrastructure pieces in Australia,” he says. The refuge is the largest feline-free area in Australia, which has feral cats in virtually all parts of the country; the non-native animals are estimated to have pushed 20 native marsupial species to extinction. Cats also kill quite a few birds in the country: Researchers estimate that feral and pet cats kill more than a million birds in Australia every day, according to a 2017 Guardian article. Feral cats do the lion’s share of the labor, killing 316 million birds a year, while pet cats kill 61 million birds annually. (Read more feral cats stories.)