Image: © Brad Leue/ Australian Wildlife Conservancy

Quoll Release is Conservation Milestone for the Australian Wildlife Conservancy


The Animal Facts Editorial Team


May 4, 2023 5:48 pm


Western Australia, Australia

The Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) celebrated another milestone in their work to rewild Australia as they introduced western quolls to Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary in WA this week. These quolls are the tenth species to be reintroduced at Mt Gibson, the most species to ever be reintroduced to a conservation reserve in Australia.

AWC were assisted by WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) staff as they released the 11 quolls over the weekend. The individuals for release were sourced from a population living in the Julimar State Forest, which is managed by DBCA. After collection from Julimar they were housed at the Native Animal Rescue for three nights before their return to the 131,800-hectares Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary on the northern edge of the WA Wheatbelt on the traditional lands of the Badimia and Widi people.

Badimia elder Gloria Fogarty joined AWC staff for the return of the quolls to Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary. Gloria delivered a traditional smoking ceremony, welcoming the individuals home.

"I think it's gorgeous to have quolls back on my Country,” Gloria said. “I think they're very special and to know that they're going to be in this habitat is a really good experience for us all. To have them back here will be extremely valuable. When they breed, well we'll just go mad admiring the little critters."

AWC have been working to restore Australian native animals to Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary since 2015. The quolls join the Greater Bilby (reintroduced between 2016-2018), Numbat (2016-2018), Brush-tailed Bettong (2015-2018), Western Barred Bandicoot (2017-2019), Red-tailed Phascogale (2017-2019), Greater Stick-nest Rat (2015-2019), Banded Hare-wallaby (2017-2018), Shark Bay Mouse (2017-2018), and Brushtail Possum (2021-2022). 

It is also a milestone for the ecosystem with the western quoll being the first top order predator introduced to the area.

Dr John Kanowski, AWC Chief Science Officer, celebrated the significant new milestone, saying the successful rewilding project at Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary sets a precedent for restoring biodiversity.

“In 2015, AWC’s rewilding plan for the sanctuary was considered ambitious due to the extent of reintroductions planned for a single site,” said Dr Kanowski. “Fast forward through eight years, dozens of translocation plans and a few delays – our vision to protect the future of 10 locally-extinct mammal species has come to fruition. It’s all thanks to AWC’s science-informed approach to conservation as well as our dedicated and talented field teams.”

“Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary is an example of the best-in-the-world rewilding and once target population numbers are reached, it will deliver a significant increase for around 10% of Australia’s threatened mammal species.”

Western quolls once range across much of mainland Australia but vanished from the eastern states by the 19th century. They were not present in much of WA by the 1930s and had disappeared from the Mt Gibson area within the last 100 years. Much of this decline has been driven by the introduction of predators such as the cat and red fox.

Georgina Anderson, AWC Senior Field Ecologist, welcomed the sanctuary’s newest residents.

“The reintroduction of the Western Quoll to Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary will improve the conservation status of the vulnerable species by establishing a new population in a semi-arid area,” Georgina, who led the translocation over the weekend, explained. “The new population will increase the overall population size of the quolls and increase the number of secure populations in Australia.”

“Over the next three years, we hope to translocate a total of 100 founders from several populations. This will provide a new genetic source for future reintroductions.”

At present the reintroduced quolls are living outside of the predator proof fence used to keep the herbivorous animals safe from cats and foxes. AWC have previously released species outside of the fence with the release of brushtail possums. AWC will consider their release inside the fence once the populations of the prey species are considered to be stable.

Monitoring of the quolls by Georgina and her team will occur over the next 12 months using the world’s most advanced drone radio-telemetry system from Wildlife Drones. This new technology enables ecologists to track multiple individuals simultaneously and over vast terrain, as they settle into the new environment.

AWC’s work on Western Quolls is supported by NACC NRM through funding from the Australian Government's National Landcare Program.

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Image: © Brad Leue/ Australian Wildlife Conservancy

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