The Tiger Quoll is the largest marsupial predator on the Australian mainland. Although previously populous in this area, Tiger Quolls have become increasingly rare. The populations in Victoria are classified as endangered – even in the Otway Ranges on the Great Ocean Road which has traditionally been considered one of the quoll’s last stronghold areas.
We are delighted to announce the safe arrival of four little joeys in our resident colony of quolls. Learn all about it and see some very cute photos.
The CEC has recently confirmed evidence of two wild Tiger Quolls in two different areas of the Otways – one in the Eastern Otways and one near Cape Otway. These two discoveries are extremely encouraging – prior to April 2012, the last confirmed evidence of Tiger Quolls in the Otways was in 2003 from a hair collected in a hair trap in the Anglesea heathlands by the Friends of the Eastern Otways.
The CEC is continuing to increase sampling effort across the landscape to establish current population status – the first step in a larger conservation project. Low density populations are difficult to detect by traditional sampling and survey methods so we are also trying some more active search methods to find the remaining quolls. The next step will be to identify the key threats to the species and initiate programs to reduce these, including an assessment of inter-predator competition with introduced species such as the fox and feral cat.
Our Tiger Quoll Conservation Program profiles the endangered Tiger Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus) as a flagship for conservation. Corridors and habitat connectivity are important for wide ranging species such as the Tiger Quoll which have large home ranges, so conservation across the landscape on all land tenures is necessary to conserve them. As a predator species the quolls also require a healthy prey base of small native mammals, therefore conservation efforts flow down the food web from predators, to prey, to habitat and thus contribute to broader biodiversity conservation.
The Quolls Have Moved In
Seven quolls live in residence at the CEC, helping us to conserve wild quolls by improving the effectiveness of our survey techniques. They also play an important role in engaging people from all over the world in the plight of this amazing species which is almost impossible to see in the wild. These quolls are part of the Australian tiger quoll breeding network, helping to ensure we keep a healthy and robust population of quolls in zoos and wildlife centres around the country. They are also supplying fresh scats with which we are training our detection dog team!
The Quest for Quolls
The first step in conserving quolls is detecting their presence and our survey methods include remote cameras and hair tubes. We are also working on the development of new detection techniques such as detection dogs (see below), artificial latrine sites and audio call ins.
Otways Conservation Dogs
We welcome expressions of interest in sponsoring this project in 2013 – please contact us for more information on this opportunity.
Managing feral predators
Feral predators such as foxes and cats have an enormous impact on indigenous wildlife, creating a competitive pressure on indigenous predators such as the endangered Tiger Quoll. Thanks to a Caring for our Country Community Action Grant we have implemented a soft-jaw trapping program which allows for humane and targeted management of these invasive species across the landscape, mitigating their impact. This project will include extensive remote camera monitoring to evaluate success.
If the Quoll Detection Dog project (above) proves successful, the Otways Conservation Dog Team may be grown to include new dogs trained for feral predator detection next year.