Experts Are Ecstatic Over the Baby Boom of Near-Extinct Marsupials
“I watched a quoll lead a devil on a merry dance around a carcass — the devil would chase it away — only to beat the devil back to the food to steal a few bites each time,” said Wade Anthony, founder of the Devil’s Cradle animal sanctuary in Tasmania.
Anthony was describing an interesting interaction between two feisty, close relatives — a quoll and a Tasmanian devil. The quoll is only half the size of the Tasmanian devil at 33 centimeters, but they share the same running speed of 24 kilometers per hour. Both of them are also carnivorous marsupials, with powerful bites and a fondness for carrion. This is why they are among our planet’s keystone species that help maintain the health of many ecosystems in forested areas.
While Tasmanian devils look like baby bears, quolls resemble cats; that’s why they were called native polecats by early European settlers. But quolls are also noted for their pointed snouts and brown or black fur with white spots. Belonging to the Dasyuridae family, there are 6 species of these cute marsupials: Eastern quoll, Northern quoll, Western quoll, Tiger quoll, Bronze quoll, and New Guinea quoll.
But the species that’s causing a great celebration in a New South Wales wildlife sanctuary is the Eastern quoll! This quoll species, which vanished in mainland Australia 50 years ago, is making a comeback with a baby boom this season. And this miracle a la modern Jurassic Park is owed by the world to the diligent efforts of Aussie Ark.
Due to introduced foxes and cats, the once-widespread population of Eastern quolls rapidly declined until the last of them on the mainland died in 1963. The surviving species could only be found in Tasmania, where there are no predators that prey on them.
In 2018, there was an effort to reintroduce quolls to the mainland at the Booderee National Park in New South Wales. But only four have managed to survive. Six of them were killed by foxes and other predators. Four died after being hit by cars.
Nevertheless, conservationists were not ready to give up.
And this year, a baby boom was observed at the Barrington Wildlife Sanctuary, where 250 quolls had been introduced. Experts recorded more than 60 joeys, which is a great sign for the species’ recovery — the biggest birth record in just a single season!
“This quoll baby boom is truly incredible,” remarked Aussie Ark operations manager Dean Reed. “The birth of these Joeys feels like a modern Jurassic Park, bringing a species back from the brink to reclaim the Australian bush.”
Aussie Ark’s ultimate goal is the rewilding of the mainland to restore the landscape’s natural beauty as it was centuries ago.Whizzco