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At its closest point to the mainland, it is 13 kilometres (8 miles) offshore from Cape Jervis.
The island is 150 km (93 mi) long and between 900 m (980 yd) and 57 km (35 mi) wide, its area covering 4,405 km2 (1,701 sq mi). Its coastline is 540 kilometres (340 mi) long and highest altitude is 307 m (1,010 ft).
Wildlife and its protection
More than half of the island has never been cleared of vegetation, and a quarter of it is conserved in National Parks, Conservation Parks, and five Wilderness Protection Areas. The main protected areas are:
- Flinders Chase National Park
- Seal Bay Conservation Park
- Cape Gantheaume Conservation Park
- Cape Bouguer Wilderness Protection Area
- Ravine des Casoars Wilderness Protection Area
The Kangaroo Island Kangaroo, Rosenberg's Sand Goanna, Southern Brown Bandicoot, Tammar Wallaby, Common Brushtail Possum, Short-beaked Echidna and New Zealand Fur Seal are native to the island, as well as six bat and frog species. The sole endemic (found nowhere else) vertebrate species is a small marsupial carnivore called the Kangaroo Island Dunnart. The Koala, Common Ringtail Possum and Platypus have been introduced and still survive there. Kangaroo Island had a native species of Emu, the Kangaroo Island Emu; however, it became extinct between 1802 and official European settlement in 1836, perhaps owing to bushfires or from hunting by sealers or whalers.
The introduced Koalas have flourished so well on the island that their preferred food source, the Manna Gum, is at risk of local extinction. Koalas have recently been forced to turn to other, less palatable, species. Park Management has been searching for a solution.
The island is a major tourist attraction.
- "South Australian National Parks & Reserves - Kangaroo Island Region". South Australian Government Department for Environment and Heritage. http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/parks/visitor/kisland.html. Retrieved 2008-07-03.
- "Dog and Cat Management Plan" (PDF). Kangaroo Island Council. 2005. http://www.kangarooisland.sa.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/Dog_and_Cat_Management_Plan_2005_MD_App.pdf. Retrieved 2008-07-03.
- Kangaroo Island Tourism Optimisation Model (2005-2006). "Visitor Exit Surveys". http://www.tomm.info/reports_factsheets/visitor_exit_surveys/index.aspx. Retrieved 2007-06-22.