More western quoll will return to their native habitat in South Australia this month after stage one of the ambitious project has shown encouraging signs of success. Positive survival and breeding rates from the initial release in April last year has led the way for the Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered Species (FAME) and the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) to release a second batch of the marsupials into the Flinders Ranges National Park.
FAME CEO Cheryl Hill said the second stage of the project will help the current population of what could be more than 50 quolls become more viable, with more than half of the quolls from the first release surviving against the threat of feral cats. An estimated 60 young quolls have been born. “Trapping of the young last year revealed that many have survived and established their own territories close to their birth place,” she said. This time, around 40 new quolls will be released adjacent to areas colonised by last year’s released adults and their young.
Quolls were once an important top predator throughout the Flinders Ranges, but they have not been seen in the region for more than 100 years – until now. “Bounceback has made this possible,” Cheryl said.
FAME is raising the funds for the $1.7 million project while DEWNR’s fauna reintroduction team monitor and handle the project in the field.
Bounceback project officer Trish Mooney said it was “exciting” to be releasing the second batch. “We are at the exciting stage now where we’ve successfully trialled and can continue with the release of more quolls into the Flinders,” she said.
The project received a boost earlier this year when the Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt provided a $55,000 grant to the cause through the National Threatened Species fund. “This grant is extremely important as it shows that the federal government recognises the importance of reintroducing the top predator in a native environment, to help restore the balance,” Cheryl said. This is on top of the $60,000 that SSAA National contributed last year.
SSAA National President Geoff Jones said the SSAA is proud to be part of this landmark project. “This is a fantastic cause for the SSAA to be involved in, and I encourage our members to help secure the future of this project by contributing where they can,” he said.
The second batch of quolls will be released on May 6. Preparations are also underway for the release of a trial batch of brush-tailed possum later this year after more than 50 years of local extinction.
SSAA National President calls on you to help
SSAA National President Geoff Jones is calling on members to show their support for this landmark conservation project.
“Conservation is something the SSAA has always been proud to be involved in, and an important project like the reintroduction of the quoll needs our ongoing support,” he said.
“While our SSAA SA CWM members have and will continue to contribute to the protection of this species, other SSAA members who cannot directly help can do so by donating to FAME.”
Members have the option of contributing a one-off donation, or showing their ongoing support over the three-year life of the project, as SSAA National has done with the $60,000 donation payable over three years.