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On the hunt for the Carnarvon quoll

Rebecca Diete (Ecologist)
Published 28 Feb 2019 by Rebecca Diete (Ecologist)

In 2008, the Northern Quoll was detected by camera trap on Carnarvon Station Reserve for the first time. Since then, some effort was made to find more quolls on the reserve, but with no luck.

A recent northern quoll sighting in the neighbouring national park and the purchase of 20 quality camera traps for the reserve has prompted a renewed effort to survey this nationally endangered marsupial.

Carnarvon is a unique place to conduct ecological studies. It's situated within a section of the Great Dividing Range that briefly runs east-west, which results in higher annual rainfall and milder summer temperatures than the regions west and south of us.

The effects this has on local flora and fauna is that the reserve has many species of plant and animal at the western limits of their natural distribution. The Northern Quoll is one such species.

Northern Quolls love areas with rock piles or hollow logs that provide habitat for the animals to den in. For this reason, we've been focusing our searches on sandstone hills, escarpment, and rocky vine thickets.

The best part about this is that these habitats are some of the prettiest places on Carnarvon. While getting out amongst them I can completely forget that I’m at work and not having a nice day out in a beautiful nature refuge; although the flies and prickly shrubs quickly bring me back to earth!

Recently, our conservation and land management trainee, Tash Richards, has been roped into helping me with the surveys. A couple of days ago we had a real treat, setting the cameras along Sir Bob’s Lookout; a place that neither of us had previously visited. If I was a Northern Quoll, I reckon I’d live here for sure. We took the opportunity to snap a few selfies while we did our work.  

Have we recorded any quolls yet you ask? Unfortunately, no. But we’re not ready to give up yet, particularly since we're getting a heap of other cool critters on the cameras.

Two of these (the Long-Nosed Bandicoot and the Major Skink) were new records for the reserve and more animals at the edge of their distribution.

Another species, Herbert’s Rock Wallaby, has only been seen here once before. So, while we keep getting photos of awesome animals while getting to visit some of the most spectacular parts of Carnarvon, Tash and I are more than happy to keep looking for those elusive little quolls. Wish us luck!

Herbert's rock wallaby in rocky vine thicket

Semi evergreen vine thicket - by Mark Schuster

A fawn-footed melomys. Typically an east coast species way out west

Tash baiting the camera trap

A long-nosed bandicoot in vine thicket. This record is now the most western for this species in southern Queensland

Happy chappies at the lookout - all in a day's work
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