Environmental rewards flourish with SSAA input

Despite unrelentingly dry conditions in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges of South Australia, the reintroduced populations of western quolls and brush-tailed possums are continuing to thrive, surviving three of the driest years on record. Both species were extinct in parts of SA before the Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered Species (FAME) and the State Government partnered to reintroduce the animals in 2014, assisted by key funding from the Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia.

SSAA environmental volunteers were praised for paving the way for rarely seen species to flourish in the area, with our team assisting in the management of feral pests including cats and foxes. FAME’s ongoing support of the reintroduction project in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges is now focussed on effective fox and cat control to further help both species as they continue to establish themselves in the region. Managing cat numbers to lower levels has been important in helping these established populations expand and survive the drought.

With continued fox and feral cat management, western quoll and brush-tailed possum populations will continue to grow. Returning these species to the northern Flinders has only been possible through the ongoing commitment of FAME and its partners, particularly the Bounceback Program, SA Arid Lands Landscapes Board and the many private conservation and pastoral landholders who collaborate with the program throughout the Flinders, Olary and Gawler Ranges in northern parts of South Australia.

More than 20 years since its inception, Bounceback still operates across National Parks, Aboriginal-owned and managed lands, private sanctuaries and pastoral tracts, the goal of passionate stakeholders remaining the same – to restore the landscape to its original state. An integral part of this goal has been the control of pest animals in the region, particularly foxes and feral goats coupled with strategic rabbit warren ripping and noxious weed-spraying.

The involvement of environmental volunteers, including the SSAA, in feral pest control activities and data gathering as part of Bounceback has been credited for achieving tangible results. In SA’s mid-north, native wildlife has been invigorated including the restoration of a species previously extinct in the region. In part thanks to the SSAA and our wildlife volunteers, the western quoll was reintroduced to the area several years ago after not being seen there for 130 years.

In early 2020, due to COVID-19 restrictions, trapping and monitoring which would ordinarily help provide a health-check of both quoll and possum populations in the Ranges was unable to be completed. Instead, motion-sensor cameras have been providing a picture story to show how both species fared last year.

Western quoll activity has been detected in a group of hills only four kilometres west of the Oraparinna Station buildings, an area in which they’ve not previously been found, indicating a population has established in a wider area. Rescheduled trapping and monitoring is ongoing.

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