Thirty-seven additional Western Quolls (or Idnya) will be released in the Flinders Ranges National Park this evening, marking the latest milestone in an ambitious project to return the spotted marsupial to its former homelands.
Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Minister Ian Hunter said these new arrivals are part of Australia’s first public/private environmental partnership – between the State Government and the Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered Species – to return the Western Quoll to a region where they’ve not been seen for nearly 150 years.
“This release of 20 female and 17 male quolls is a significant achievement for South Australia’s 22-year Bounceback conservation program,” he said.
“It is still early days but we remain hopeful that the Western Quoll joins the Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby as a species that is now thriving in the region under the protection of a dedicated fox and goat control program.”
“The return of the Western Quoll to the region has important meaning for the local Adnyamathanha people, and it is expected that the tourism appeal of the Flinders Ranges will be further increased if the quoll population takes hold.”
Cheryl Hill, FAME Chief Executive, who is leading the drive to raise approximately $1.7 million to support the recovery of the species in South Australia is also hopeful.
“We are very excited about this latest development – the return of a once-extinct species to the Flinders Ranges – and we are very optimistic that this latest release of quolls will help in the establishment of a viable population.”
The State Government and FAME are also partnering with WA Department of Parks and Wildlife, who are playing a critical role in providing the source populations of quolls from south-west Western Australia, until now the only place where Western Quoll remained in Australia.
The latest release occurs after the initial translocation of 41 quolls to the Flinders Ranges in April-May last year – those quolls bred in June and July, and recent trapping in the region caught 29 individuals.
While cats remain the main threat to individual quoll survival, cat control is being conducted each month, including trapping and shooting to give the quolls an opportunity to establish sustainable populations.
However, with no long-term solution for feral cat control in existence, ultimately it will be important for the quolls to be able to live in proximity to cats, as they do in south-west Western Australia.
South Australians are being urged to donate towards ongoing operational support over the next three years, which includes monitoring and cat control. Donations to the Western Quoll project can be made by visiting fame.org.au/projects/western-quoll or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.