When it rains, it pours! We recently discovered four Western Quolls (Dasyurus geoffroii) on monitoring cameras at two of our midwest Western Australian reserves over the space of two weeks.
Since spot patterning on Quolls is completely unique to each individual animal, similar to human fingerprints, analysis of the camera trap data indicates that the four sightings are four different quolls.
It’s the first quoll sighting at Hamelin under Bush Heritage management, and it's believed to have been many years since they were seen in the wider Shark Bay district. One was recorded in sand dune country while the other was about 10 kilometres away on Hamelin’s coastline. Eurardy’s two quolls are the second and third records for the reserve, following the inaugural sighting in December 2020.
Where are the quolls coming from?
The strongest theory as to the origins of these curious Chuditch is that they are travellers from the well-established Quoll population at Kalbarri National Park. Around 50 Quolls were translocated to the park from a captive breeding program at Perth Zoo about two decades ago and have persisted there successfully ever since. WA’s Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) has run a concentrated feral predator control program at Kalbarri for more than 20 years, setting the scene for its quoll population to expand and move outside the borders of the park in search of new territory.
Kalbarri, which sits directly to Eurardy’s west, is connected to Hamelin by a corridor of nature reserves including Toolonga Nature Reserve and crown land stretches almost 200km down to the Shark Bay World Heritage Area.
The multiple sightings on our properties suggest that the wildlife corridor carefully created by conservation organisations and government over many years is providing a safe route for species through the midwest.
Volunteers conducting sand pad monitoring at Eurardy will be keeping a close eye out for any quoll shaped or sized paw prints, while Eurardy Reserve Manager Sam Fischer plans to install a high-density network of 30 cameras across the area where the Quolls have been spotted twice. If there is a self-sustaining population on Eurardy, we’d expect to see repeat sightings of the same individuals from the camera data collected. Hamelin Station Reserve Managers Ken and Michelle Judd are on the lookout out for quoll scat around the reserve.
Last but definitely not least, we’ll continue with our intensive integrated pest management program at Eurardy, Hamelin and Charles Darwin Reserves, now in its second year. By targeting feral cats, foxes and rabbits in a strategic way to reduce predator and grazing pressure, we hope to continue to make our midwest reserves even more quoll friendly, and one day in the future see established populations!