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Extinction Facing the Northern Bettong in Queensland

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: November 23, 2021 12:07 pm

Northern Bettong Threatened Australian Wildlife Conservancy

A northern bettong which is part of the remnant population found in Danbulla National Park. North Queensland.

Photo Credit: Wayne Lawler/ Australian Wildlife Conservancy

The results of a new study showing that one of the two remaining populations of the endangered Northern bettong is much smaller than anticipated will be presented today at the Annual Conference of the Ecological Society of Australia. Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC), Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) and Western Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation (WYAC) worked together on the research.

This study has implicated changing fire patterns, the presence of introduced hoofstock and weeds as some of the threats to this species.

The northern bettong has been listed as endangered under both federal and state legislation. They are considered one of the species facing the highest risk of extinction if the threat is not urgently addressed.

At present there are two populations of the northern bettong. The larger population is found on the Lamb Range and includes 700-1000 individuals. Research over the last 20 years has shown that this population is stable.

The second population is found on the Mount Carbine Tableland and was almost unknown before the study. AWC QPWS and WYAC have worked together since 2017 to understand how many remain in this population.

To find out how many northern bettongs are present there they deployed 128 motion-sensing cameras. Data was also obtained through live-trapping of individuals. Each individual captured was given a microchip so they can be identified in the future.

From this study an estimate that just 50 animals are remaining at Mount Carbine bringing in to concern the viability of this population.

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“WYAC, QPWS and AWC are working closely to halt the decline of Northern Bettongs on Western Yalanji country before we lose the remaining population forever,” said Richard Grogan, Western Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation Chairperson. “Last year, QPWS secured funding and constructed a cattle blocking fence which was culturally cleared by Western Yalanji. The purpose of the fence is to stop competition and disturbance from cattle within the national park and we are working with QPWS to implement a fire management program.”

 

“The next step is to muster the cattle out of the area and continue the ongoing fire and weed management strategies to improve the suitability of the Northern Bettong habitat. We will also continue to closely monitor the population over the coming years.”

 

“Research at Mt Lewis has identified the population of Northern Bettongs on the Mount Carbine Tableland is much smaller than we thought and at risk of going extinct,” said Dr Manuela Fischer, Australian Wildlife Conservancy Wildlife Ecologist. “As specialist fungivores which eat and disperse truffles, Northern Bettongs play an essential role in maintaining the forest's health – losing them would not only be a tragedy in itself, it would also have ripple effects across the wider ecosystem.”

 

“Urgent action is underway to stop the decline, but it’s a race against the clock. AWC is in the process of establishing a feral predator-proof fence at Mt Zero-Taravale Wildlife Sanctuary outside of Townsville, where we hope to reintroduce the species and provide them with a safe haven to rebuild their numbers.”

AWC are working to safeguard this species using generous grants from the  NSW Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) for $568,700 and $1.5 million from the federal government’s Environment Restoration Fund’s Safe Haven Grant . These funds will be used for the construction of a feral predator-free area at Mt-Zero-Taravale Wildlife Sanctuary. This will allow for the return of the northern bettong to this area.

Learn more about Marsupials here – Marsupial Fact File | The Animal Facts

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

Northern Bettong Threatened Australian Wildlife Conservancy

A northern bettong which is part of the remnant population found in Danbulla National Park. North Queensland.

Photo Credit: Wayne Lawler/ Australian Wildlife Conservancy

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