Red-Tailed Phascogales Returned to the Wild by AWC

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: April 2, 2022 12:20 am

A red-tailed phascogale is seen in the wild

Photo Credit: Australian Wildlife Conservancy/ Laurence Berry

The Australian Wildlife Conservancy have released fourteen red-tailed phascogales in to Mallee Cliffs National Park in western New South Wales where they were locally extinct. The release was the result of a partnership with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and Adelaide Zoo.

These phascogales were bred at Adelaide Zoo in South Australia and drive 450km to their new home. The group of 12 females and 2 males have joined 60 other red-tailed phascogales which were released into the national park in November 2021.

To release the phascogales they are placed in a nest box at night.

AWC ecologists gave the phascogales a health check on their arrival at Mallee Cliffs and fitted them with specially designed tracking collars which will be used to monitor their transition to the new environment. These will be removed in four weeks once they have dispersed.

Environment Minister James Griffin said the Mallee Cliffs National Park feral predator free area is a critical conservation effort that will help restore ecosystems and prevent extinctions.

“The phascogale is the eighth mammal listed as extinct in NSW that has been returned to NSW national parks in the past three years,” Mr Griffin said.

"Within a few years, we hope to remove at least 10 mammals from the NSW extinct list – the first time that will have happened anywhere in the world.

“State-wide there will soon be 65,000 hectares of feral predator-free areas on national park estate, including this site at the Mallee Cliffs. They’re being established as an essential part of the NSW Government’s conservation strategy, aiming to prevent extinction.”

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NSW National Parks and Wildlife Area Manager Jo Gorman said once abundant across much of arid and semi-arid Australia, red-tailed phascogales now occupy just one per cent of their former range, suffering a catastrophic decline following the arrival of cats and foxes.

“The Mallee Cliffs National Park feral predator free area is aiming to increase the nationwide population of red-tailed phascogales by nearly 20 per cent to around 1,660 individuals,” Ms Gorman said.

During 2021 the AWC established a partnership with Adelaide Zoo to breed red-tailed phascogales and after 12 months of successful breeding some were ready for release.

The team at Adelaide Zoo have thoroughly enjoyed looking after the Red-tailed Phascogales, especially the mums with their jelly-bean sized joeys on board.

Zoos South Australia’s Conservation field officer, Claire Hartvigsen-Power, is incredibly happy with how the program has progressed.

“Our keepers have been working hard to ensure that the captive-bred phascogales will thrive in the wild, and are excited to be a part of the release at Mallee Cliffs National Park,” she said.

“Red-tailed Phascogales are just one of the species that Zoos SA are partnering with AWC to return to the wild, and we’re looking forward to continuing to do our bit to support the conservation of Australian wildlife.”

AWC are playing an important role in securing a future for the red-tailed phascogale with releases also occurring at Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary in WA and Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary in the NT.  

“AWC is working hard to secure the future of the Red-tailed Phascogale. The project at Mallee Cliffs National Park is unique, seeing 10 regionally extinct mammal species restored to New South Wales to recreate an assemblage and its associated ecosystem processes, that hasn’t been functional for over a century,” said Dr Laurence Berry, Senior Wildlife Ecologist at Mallee Cliffs National Park.

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

Learn more about Adelaide Zoo on their website – Adelaide Zoo

Learn more about the Australian Wildlife Conservancy on Their Website - Australian Wildlife Conservancy

A number of baby red-tailed phascogales are seen in their mother's pouch at Adelaide Zoo

Photo Credit: Zoos SA

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