On Threatened Species Day*, September 7, the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife announced that it is supporting Aussie Ark to establish an insurance population of Eastern quolls in the Barrington Tops region of NSW, for eventual reintroduction into the wild.
The Eastern quoll was declared extinct on mainland Australia in 1963 due to predation and now only exists and thrives in Tasmania.
Tim Faulkner, general manager of Aussie Ark and general manager and head of conservation of the Australian Reptile Park, has thanked FNPW for its support in helping to save threatened species.
“The focus of both FNPW and Aussie Ark is on protecting key species, contributing to healthy and balanced ecosystems, and ensuring their long-term survival in the face of many threats”, said Tim.
Four species of quoll occur in Australia: the Northern, spotted-tailed, Eastern and Western quolls. Once, most parts of Australia were inhabited by at least one of the species.
Captain Cook collected quolls along the east coast in 1770, and recorded ‘quoll’ as their local Aboriginal name. Quolls were often seen by early settlers, who called them ‘native cat’, ‘native polecat’, and ‘spotted marten’ – names based on familiar European animals.
Since 1770, all four species have declined dramatically in numbers. This is mainly because of habitat loss or change across Australia, and introduced predators such as foxes and cats.
The Eastern quoll is a key species, as it plays an important role as an ecosystem engineer, scavenging on carrion on the forest floor.
Male Eastern quolls are about the size of a small domestic cat averaging 60 centimetres in length and 1.3 kilograms in weight; females are slightly smaller.It is istinguished from the larger spotted-tailed quoll by the absence of spots on its tail, only four toes on hindfoot, and a less bulky head shape.
“The Eastern quoll is a key species, as it plays an important role as an ecosystem engineer, scavenging on carrion on the forest floor.” said Foundation for National Parks (FNPW) CEO, Ian Darbyshire.
“They are also a natural predator maintaining balance in the bush.”
Australia has the worst mammal extinction rate in the world. Around 30 per cent of our surviving (non-bat) mammal species are threatened with extinction.
Thousands of native animals need our help now.
“Australia has amazing wildlife that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world”, Ian Darbyshire said.
“Thousands of native animals need our help now. By increasing awareness and helping to protect Australia from these threats, we will create a safer, more sustainable and thriving future.
* Threatened Species Day commemorates the death of the last known thylacine (or Tasmanian tiger, Thylacinus cynocephalus) in 1936.