Find out more about South Australia’s western quolls

Find out more about South Australia’s western quolls

5 facts about the west­ern quoll

  1. Mar­su­pi­al preda­tor: The west­ern quoll, is the largest car­niv­o­rous mar­su­pi­al native main­land South Aus­tralia. It’s a pro­fi­cient hunter; pri­mar­i­ly feed­ing on small mam­mals, birds, insects, and reptiles.
  2. Noc­tur­nal behav­iour: These quolls are pri­mar­i­ly noc­tur­nal, which means they are most active dur­ing the night. This helps them avoid day­time heat and poten­tial predators.
  3. Unique mark­ings: They have dis­tinc­tive white spots on their dark brown fur, giv­ing them a speck­led appear­ance which serves as a form of cam­ou­flage in their nat­ur­al habi­tat of forests and open country.
  4. Range and habi­tat: His­tor­i­cal­ly, they were found across much of south­ern and cen­tral Aus­tralia. How­ev­er, due to habi­tat loss and com­pe­ti­tion with intro­duced species, their range has sig­nif­i­cant­ly decreased. They’re now pri­mar­i­ly found in the south­west­ern regions of West­ern Aus­tralia and some parts of South Australia.
  5. Con­ser­va­tion sta­tus: The West­ern Quoll is list­ed as Near Threat­ened. Efforts are being made to con­serve their pop­u­la­tions through habi­tat restora­tion and preda­tor con­trol pro­grams in South Aus­tralia as part of oper­a­tion Bounce­back.

What’s being done to help?

As part of Bounce­back, Australia’s longest run­ning bio­di­ver­si­ty pro­gram, 15 west­ern quolls have been relo­cat­ed back in to the Vulkathun­ha-Gam­mon Ranges Nation­al Park. This fol­lows on from the 2014 quoll release to the Flinders Ranges, where the pop­u­la­tion con­tin­ues to thrive, mak­ing it fea­si­ble to expand the translo­ca­tion pro­gram into oth­er parts of South Australia’s arid ranges.

A mixed-age cohort of 15 quolls were care­ful­ly select­ed from Taron­ga Con­ser­va­tion Sanc­tu­ary breed­ing pro­gram to ensure genet­i­cal­ly robust and diverse indi­vid­u­als were added into the nation­al park. Radio track­ing col­lars were then attached to sev­er­al indi­vid­u­als before releas­ing the new pop­u­la­tion at nightfall

While there are no quick fix­es to rebuild­ing pop­u­la­tions, the radio track­ing col­lars allow ecol­o­gists to col­lect data, mon­i­tor changes to the ecosys­tem and car­ry out long term plan­ning of how to best sus­tain the species.

The addi­tion of genet­i­cal­ly diverse indi­vid­u­als to the Vulkathun­ha-Gam­mon Ranges Nation­al Park is a major step towards improv­ing its con­ser­va­tion status.

Dr Katherine Moseby with a quoll (Image courtesy of Sonya Medhurst)
Dr Kather­ine Mose­by with a quoll (Image cour­tesy of Sonya Medhurst)

What is Bounceback?

The new­ly estab­lished pop­u­la­tion in the Vulkathun­ha-Gam­mon Ranges Nation­al Park is part of the mul­ti-organ­i­sa­tion­al Bounce­back con­ser­va­tion pro­gram, a col­lab­o­ra­tion between Depart­ment for Envi­ron­ment and Water, and the South Aus­tralian Arid Lands Land­scapes Board with fund­ing sup­port from the Aus­tralian Government’s Nation­al Land­care Pro­gram and the Foun­da­tion for Australia’s Most Endan­gered Species, bring­ing this endan­gered native preda­tor back to where it once roamed.

For more details about the Bounce­back pro­gram vis­it: https://​www​.envi​ron​ment​.sa​.gov​.au/​t​o​p​i​c​s​/​e​c​o​s​y​s​t​e​m​-​c​o​n​s​e​r​v​a​t​i​o​n​/​b​o​u​n​c​eback

Inter­est­ed in read­ing more about the suc­cess of Bounce­back? Check out Pos­sums and quolls in Ikara-Flinders Ranges, and How the yel­low-foot­ed rock wal­la­by was saved from extinc­tion in South Aus­tralia.

Main image: West­ern quoll (image cour­tesy of Jan­ni­co Kelk)
This arti­cle was ori­gion­al­ly pub­lished in Feb­ru­ary 2023.

This con­tent was pro­duced in part­ner­ship with  Good Living