Australia has lost more native mammal species than any other country in the past two centuries, and this record of loss looks likely to worsen over the next few decades. Small- to medium-sized mammals are declining in both distribution and density across large tracts of northern Australia's tropical savannas, including within protected areas. The most likely causes are a combination of changed fire patterns, the impacts of introduced herbivores and predation by feral cats. Here, in contrast to the prevailing trend across northern Australia, we report the recovery of native mammals in response to a large-scale (>40000ha) destocking experiment carried out at Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary in the central Kimberley, north-west Australia. Following the removal of introduced herbivores from 2004, the species richness and abundance of small native rodents and dasyurids increased significantly across all sampled habitats over the next 3years. We discuss the implications of these results for guiding land management and applied research to help to reduce the impending risk of mammalian extinctions in northern Australia. � 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation � 2010 Ecological Society of Australia.