Eastern quoll colony in Booderee have their first babies
MIGRATION is a harrowing experience. Are the locals OK? Can we cope with the climate? Are the shops close by? But the 20 eastern quolls relocated to the NSW South Coast from Tasmania now like their new homes so much, they’ve settled down, found love — and begun making babies.
The quolls, often described as native cats because of their predatory nature, were taken to Booderee National Park as part of a project to test whether or not they could successfully be reintroduced to the wild.
Regular check-ups have revealed encouraging sign of success: one in three of the female marsupials have already reproduced. Each quoll pup starts life about the size of a baked bean.
WWF-Australia’s Head of Living Ecosystems, Darren Grover, said they were the most welcome sight imaginable for everyone involved in this project.
“They give us hope that there is a future for these feisty little marsupials back on the mainland where they belong,” Mr Grover said.
Eastern quolls were abundant along the east coast of Australia in the early 1900s. But feral cats, foxes, wild dogs and disease decimated their numbers. They were last sighted some 50 years ago.
But eastern quoll colonies clung to life in Tasmania.
Now, after 15 years of fox and cat management programs within Booderee Natioanl Park, the Australian Government Threatened Species Strategy has taken the plunge — and established a test colony back on the mainland.
Australian National University researcher Natasha Robinson said the project has demonstrated the potential for successful quoll reintroduction to the Australian mainland.
“We’ve proven the quolls can find food, shelter and breed,’’ Dr Robinson said. “We’ve also shown a capacity to make changes to improve the quolls’ survival rate. We’ve also got an excellent collaboration between government, non-government organisation, and research institutions for this project and we’re grateful for the strong community support.”
Booderee National Park Natural Resource Manager Nick Dexter said researchers have already learnt a lot from the quoll colony.
“There remain challenges ahead to establish a sustainable population, but to have 30 per cent of the female quolls produce pouch young from this pilot project is a move in the right direction,” he said.
“We’ve been tracking every animal in this project with a GPS collar, and unlike other translocation projects we’ve been able to quickly discover and manage threats. We’ve also learnt about the behaviour of these quolls, about their movements and preferred habitat.”
Quolls also are making a comeback elsewhere in Australia.
Western quolls, which had retreated to a far corner of Western Australia, have been reintroduced to predator-proof colonies in South Australia since 2014.