Threatened western quolls are spreading outside release zones in a big win for conservationists in South Australia.  

Key points:

  • Successful translocations have seen a comeback in the species that used to be abundant in SA
  • A ecologist says the species is surviving well in the Flinders Ranges and spreading to areas outside the release zone
  • Predators like cats and foxes are being managed to give the quolls their best chance at survival

Rob Brandle, a senior conservation ecologist with the Department for Environment and Water, said the last of four quoll translocations occurred in the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park in the Flinders Ranges in late March.

“That’s after trapping in Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park where we introduced them originally back in 2014,” Mr Brandle said.

“They’ve been doing so well there since the recovery post drought that we’re catching large numbers of them down there and we were able to move 25 up last Sunday.”

In conservation, translocation is the deliberate movement of animals from one site to another to achieve a conservation benefit.

Western quolls, also known as idnya, are a threatened species across the country, but once ranged over about 80 per cent of the Australian continent before European settlement.

Quolls have been released in the Flinders Ranges in a bid to boost their numbers.(Supplied: Chloe Frick)

Mr Brandle said the marsupials had been seen on cameras away from where they were reintroduced, which was proof the program was a success.

“They’re regularly sighted on cameras down on Arkaba, which is a tourism conservation property just south of Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park,” he said.

It’s thought the western quoll once inhabited 80 per cent of the Australian continent.(Supplied: Chloe Frick)

“We’ve also had the odd one on cameras on some of the other surrounding properties down there.

“It looks like they’re spreading out from that really dense population — and that’s really good news for making a large population that interbreeds and ensures the genetics stays diverse, rather than getting lumped up into small isolated populations.”

Predator numbers managed

Mr Brandle said the quoll translocation program was part of one of the country’s longest running biodiversity programs, called Bounceback.

Ecologists are trying to protect the quolls from foxes and cats.

“When you [release] a new population of something like quolls, which is a bit smaller than cats … they’re a bit susceptible to predation,” Mr Brandle said.

The translocation of quolls in SA is part of Bounceback, one of Australia’s longest running biodiversity programs.(Supplied: Chloe Frick)

“So we’re doing some extra cat control and baiting fairly large areas … to help those small populations get their foothold in the area.

“At the moment, the quolls seem to being doing quite well in Ikara where there are still cats.”

He hoped the populations would be reintroduced to other areas of the state over time.