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Woylies Spring Back in to the Northern Territory

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: August 6, 2021 11:00 pm

Woylie Release Northern Territory

A woylie is released by a member of the team from the Australian Wildlife Conservancy in to the sanctuary at Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary north-west of Alice Springs

Photo Credit: Brad Leue/ AWC

The Australian Wildlife Conservancy have brought the woylie or brush-tailed bettong back to the Northern Territory where they have been locally extinct for 60 years.

12 months of careful planning and paperwork were rewarded on Monday night when 44 woylies were loaded on to planes and flown from Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary in the WA Wheatbelt region to Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary north-west of Alice Springs.

On arrival at Newhaven the bettongs received a quick health check from staff and volunteers before being released in to the predator free reserve. Some are fitted with VHF tracking collars which will help ecologists to monitor their movements within the sanctuary.

Woylie Release Northern Territory

A woylie is released by a member of the team from the Australian Wildlife Conservancy in to the sanctuary at Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary north-west of Alice Springs

Photo Credit: Brad Leue/ AWC

The population is made up of 44 adult individuals. 22 are males and 22 are female. Excitingly a number of the females are carrying pouch young helping to boost the population.

Woylies were found in the Northern Territory at European settlement but disappeared around 1960 as the red fox became established. The predator free reserve removes this threat.

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Kirsten Skinner, AWC Wildlife Ecologist said, "It is a huge milestone for AWC and a thrill for the team at Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary to have such an extraordinary opportunity to make history and reintroduce a locally extinct species back into the ecosystem.”

Woylies are incredible ecosystem engineers… each individual has the ability to move around six tons of dirt every year which promotes soil turnover and germination of seeds. We look forward to seeing how their return will affect the ecosystem after an absence of over 60 years.”

Woylie Release Northern Territory

A woylie is released by a member of the team from the Australian Wildlife Conservancy in to the sanctuary at Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary north-west of Alice Springs

Photo Credit: Brad Leue/ AWC

Over the coming weeks the woylie population will be monitored by AWC ecologists to ensure they integrate successfully. Tracking collars and camera traps are being set up to keep watch over them.

Woylie populations were once found across much of Australia but the population has now been reduced to just 15,000 with remnant populations in south-west Western Australia.

Ten percent of the woylie population is protected in sanctuaries managed by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy. Another release of woylies is planned for Mallee Cliffs National Park in New South Wales in 2021.

Woylie Release Northern Territory

The woylies are loaded on a plane at Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary in the WA Wheatbelt region for their flight to the Northern Territory

Photo Credit: Issie Connell/ AWC

Learn more about Woylies here – Woylie Fact File | The Animal Facts

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

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