GPS Tracking Being Used to Bring Back Extinct Quolls to Australia’s Mainland

13 Feb 2018

The eastern quoll has been extinct on mainland Australia since the 1960s. New efforts are currently underway to bring these marsupials back to Australia’s shores. The small creatures, roughly the size of a small domestic cat, will be reintroduced into the wilds of Australia beginning in autumn 2018.

Once abundant on the mainland, the eastern quoll has been considered extinct on both the Australian mainland and in the wild since the 1960s. Populations at this time were diminished greatly by a curious epidemic that killed off substantial numbers of their population before foxes and predators killed off the rest. Today, they are only found naturally in Tasmania.

This time, though, the quolls will have a quite a few eyes watching and monitoring their progress to, hopefully, avoid another extinction level event for the small creatures. These efforts will be largely aided by the use of GPS tracking collars that will be attached to the quolls before they are released.

These collars allow researchers to track the quolls, so they can know where they quolls are located, what kinds of habitats they’re living in, and how they are reacting with other quolls. Attentive monitoring also allows research to learn more about what types of landscape offers the best protection for these creatures and how to keep their predators, like foxes and feral cats, at bay.

Why are quolls so important that Australia wants them back? According to Canberra Times, quolls are considered ecosystem “regulators”. They eat a variety of insets and small mammals, keeping these populations under control.

The key for making this project successful lies in giving quolls their best shot at survival. This means offering habitats that foster success, limiting exposure, at least initially, to predators, and providing them with the tools they need to flourish. Fortunately, we already know the eastern quoll can survive in the Australian landscape – as they have done so in decades past.

The project to track the quolls is being largely financed by crowdfunding, which has currently only raised the funds for 13 of the 20 trackers needed to sufficiently track the first round of settlers. Only time will tell if this effort to repopulate a once extinct creature on the Australia mainland will pay off, but it offers stunning scientific possibilities of successful.



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