AWC Rediscover Quolls By Accident After More Than A Decade

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: March 30, 2022 12:56 pm

Northern Quoll Australian Wildlife Conservancy

A close-up image shows a northern quoll

Photo Credit: Australian Wildlife Conservancy

The Australian Wildlife Conservancy have rediscovered a population of the endangered quoll in Spider Gorge on Kija Country at Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s (AWC) Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary after 11 years. This discovery was made by accident after a camera trap was set up for visiting philanthropists.

Populations of northern quolls have been in decline across northern Australia following the expansion of the cane toad in to these areas. They first arrived in the eastern Kimberley region in 2006.

Toads can poison species which attempt to eat them and the quoll is a main predator. AWC have detected less quolls across less sites since the arrival of the toads.

This population was discovered by accident when Annie Leitch, AWC Senior Interpretations Guide, and Steve Brown, Chopper Pilot selected Spider Gorge as the main location for a philanthropists’ tour. It is close to an area where quolls were not detected earlier this year.

Ecologists set up a camera trap as part of a demonstration and it was then left for 39 days until it could be collected. During a quick flick through the images it was thought only reptiles and Kimberley Rock-rats that often turn up in images would be seen.

“The camera captured four clear images of a Northern Quoll from a population in Spider Gorge that we haven’t detected in over a decade. We were under the impression that they may have disappeared from the area and were thrilled to see the individuals, particularly because we have only detected a three individual Northern Quolls across Mornington in the past two years.”

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Excited by the discovery a further 20 camera traps and a selection of live traps were set up. While no live quolls were captured the camera traps did show up more images confirming a population of three quolls in the Gorge.

“Based on the new images captured on camera arrays placed in the same vicinity, we were able to confirm a minimum of three individuals in the population,” explained Dr Skye Cameron, Australian Wildlife Conservancy Regional Ecologist. “Their presence is a great way to demonstrate that these rocky habitats may still support small numbers of these species.”

Dr Cameron continued, saying that although there are no immediate plans to continue monitoring the newly found individuals, their detection and their persistence does warrant a re-evaluation of where surveying takes place in the future and if a reintroduction to aid the persistence of this species in the region is feasible.

“Currently, we are closely monitoring populations of Northern Quolls at Charnley River-Artesian Range Wildlife Sanctuary as part of a larger research program,” said Dr Cameron. “They indicate functional populations and will be monitored into the future with key conservation targets identified. We will look at the feasibility and success of potential intervention to ensure the persistence of this endangered species on AWC sanctuaries in the Central Kimberley.”

The northern quoll is the smallest of the Australian quoll species. Historically their range stretched from the Pilbra in Western Australia to Brisbane in Queensland.

Cane toads have accelerated the decline of this species and they are now listed as endangered by the IUCN.

AWC carry out monitoring and care for the species at a number of their sanctuaries - on Djungan and Western Yalanji country at Brooklyn Wildlife Sanctuary in Queensland, on Kija Country at Mornington and Wilnggin Country at Charnley River-Artesian Range Wildlife Sanctuary, in the Kimberley Western Australia. Northern Quolls are also detected across AWC’s Kimberley Partnership Areas, on Dambimangari (including Yampi Sound Training Area) and Wilinggin Country.

Learn more about Quolls here - Quoll Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about the Australian Wildlife Conservancy on their website – Australian Wildlife Conservancy

Northern Quoll Australian Wildlife Conservancy

A northern quoll was captured on a camera trap at the Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary after more than a decade

Photo Credit: Australian Wildlife Conservancy

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