Quolls resilience triumphs
15 April 2019
Posted 15 April 2019.
Despite two years of dry conditions, reintroduced western-quolls (Idnya) and brush-tailed possum (Virlda) numbers at Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park have defied expectations.
The fledgling populations have weathered two of the driest and most extreme years recorded for the region and have come through with flying colours.
Before a monitoring survey began last week, a fall in the population was expected due to the challenging conditions.
The fears turned out to be unfounded with 50 western-quolls (29 new individuals) and 28 possums (8 new individuals) captured over a week of trapping, showing the population has defied expectations in maintaining numbers since 2017. More heartening was the animals’ good health and even mix of males and females.
The animals were reintroduced in 2014 through a public-private partnership with the Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered (FAME). The project has been delivered through the Department for Environment and Water’s long-running Bounceback Program as part of a 25-year commitment to restoring semi-arid landscapes and underpinned by the Foundation’s long-term financial commitment.
The Bounceback Program has effectively reduced fox numbers in the landscape allowing for the western-quoll and brush-tailed possum to be released.
Two years ago the Bounceback Program was expanded to trial broad-scale feral cat control across a 500 km2 area of the Park to support increased population growth of the western-quoll.
Natural Resources SA Arid Lands Regional Director Jodie Gregg-Smith said last week’s monitoring results highlight the success of the reintroduction program and an example of the positive conservation outcomes for threatened species, that can be achieved in these types of partnerships.
“The western-quolls and brush-tailed possums have proven their resilience to survive the harsh conditions they’ve encountered over the past two years,” she said.
"This shows that by reducing feral predators in the environment we give our native species the best chance of survival, particularly when conditions are challenging.”
“Controlling foxes, and more recently feral cats, has reduced predation on both the quolls and possums, particularly on their young.”
“We look forward to the continued partnership with FAME and seeing quolls and possums populations grow at our iconic Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park.”