So I did a little research and decided to focus on the eastern quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus) for now.
A total of eight species of quoll are thought to have been in existence at one time.
Today, out of six remaining species of quoll, four are found in Australia and two in New Guinea. Fossilized remains in Queensland proved that two other species once roamed Australia.
The eastern quoll (aka the eastern native cat) is a near-threatened species. Almost five years ago, scientists at the University of Tasmania were baffled to find eastern quoll populations were dwindling despite the decimation of the tasmanian devil from a fatal form of cancer.
Up next is a short ABC News (Australia) report about their sharp decline noted in 2010:
Eastern Quoll in Decline: Scientists
Uploaded on July 15th, 2010
Since 1963, Eastern Quolls Have Not Been Seen on Australia's Mainland
Google Map With Ranges Drawn On By Author, Rose Webster. using Pixlr.comA May 15th, 2015 article in The Guardian by Oliver Milman states eastern quolls "once spread from the southern reaches of South Australia up to Brisbane."
But they "have not been seen on the Australian mainland since 1963." The vast majority of them were thought to have disappeared by the mid 1950s.
I found a detailed map of the region that eastern quolls once inhabited on page 2 of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service threatened species information fact sheet. I superimposed it over the Google map (shown at right).
Today, the eastern quoll is only found on the Australian island state of Tasmania (shown in solid red on map).
First Uncontrolled Release of Eastern Quoll on the Mainland
parksaustralia.gov.au / Booderee National Park Highlighted in Red by Author, Rose Webster, using Pixlr.comAn ambitious project, a collaboration of the Australian National University (ANU), Booderee National Park, Parks Victoria, Rewilding Australia, and Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council has plans to release 40 eastern quolls in Booderee National Park (Jervis Bay, New South Wales) next year (in 2016).
In a May 17th, 2015 IFL Science article by Morenike Adebayo, it states:
"It’s unlikely that the eastern quolls’ numbers will grow to their previously established figures without an imposed cull of their feral predators."
The main predators are foxes and feral cats.
In less than two months (July 16th, 2015), the Australian government will be hosting a threatened species summit to work out the finer details of ensuring that "rewilding" species (such as the eastern quoll) is carried out with careful risk assessment and analysis.
As David Lindenmayer, ecology and conservation expert at ANU, told The Guardian's Oliver Milman:
"It needs to be carefully thought through, because we could create a whole series of messes that we didn’t know about."
I couldn't help but think what a shame it would be to release these little quolls only to find out they were just a free lunch for a bunch of feral cats and foxes.
Greg Schechter (gregthebusker) on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 GenericAnd the eastern quoll is an important part of a healthy ecosystem. They consume spiders, cockroaches, corbie grubs and cockchafer beetles (the latter two are agricultural pests).
Quolls are also meat eaters which prey on mice, rats, rabbits (and carrion, the flesh of dead animals). On occasion, they will eat fruit.
I like that they eat cockroaches, don't you?
Mr. Britton is the Director of Wild Animal Encounters, the only company in New South Wales, Australia to feature both native and exotic animals at educational wildlife displays and outreach programs.
In this next video, he explains why the eastern quolls' numbers have been dwindling and shows us a very rare black eastern quoll (shown above, at right). And no, I have no idea whether or not he is single.
Wild Animal Encounters - Ben Britton - Eastern Quoll
Published on December 6th, 2013
The Australian Mammal Society
I'm always impressed by how much effort the Australian government and its citizens devote to saving creatures that once were plentiful on their country's mainland. Understandably, it takes a great deal of study to determine how best to reestablish such fragile ecosystems.
In a June 24th, 2013 published study in the Journal of the Australian Mammal Society titled Evidence of rapid population decline of the eastern quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus) in Tasmania, I learned how dire their situation is.
After surveying 150 sites throughout Tasmania, the study found:
- a 52% reduction in the number of sightings (over a 10-year span)
- a 61 to 100% decline in trapping at three sites (compared with trapping 18 to 31 years prior)
- a 51% to 100% reduction in trap success at five or six non-target surveys (over 12 years)
Conclusion: These results suggest that the eastern quoll can no longer be presumed secure in Tasmania. Urgent management action may be needed to ensure the future conservation of the species in its last remaining stronghold.
How to Help Eastern Quolls
The Quoll Seekers Network welcomes wildlife enthusiasts. Membership is free. You receive news, merchandise discounts, workshop, and volunteer opportunities. You can participate in quoll sightings and send in photos to be published on their website. You can even adopt-a-quoll and it's all tax deductible.
Rewilding Australia is a registered charity working to support the reintroduction of devils and quolls to ecologically impoverished landscapes. They partner with private landowners and community organisations to protect and manage wildlife via predator-proof fencing and coordinated wildlife breeding programs.
The Australian Ecosystems Foundation Inc. (AEFI) is a not-for-profit, nationally registered environmental organization dedicated to saving Australian wildlife by protecting habitats and maintaining natural ecological processes. The AEFI is working through a 7-step reintroduction process of eastern quolls, which includes:
- Genetic testing of the captive population to make sure they are fit enough for release
- Disease testing to make sure the quolls don’t introduce anything to wildlife at the reintroduction site
- Ensuring the quolls are not susceptible to any diseases already present in the wild
The Australian Quoll Conservancy (AQC) is Australia’s newest conservation group. The AQC is dedicated to the conservation of all four of Australia’s Quoll Species, particularly the race "gracilis" of the spotted tailed quoll in North QLD. They are a registered not for profit conservation group.