CANBERRA, March 25 (Xinhua) -- A coalition of researchers and wildlife parks have come together in an attempt to save an Australian marsupial from extinction.
The eastern quoll (EQ) was wiped out from the Australian mainland in the mid-20th century by introduced predators, leaving the island state of Tasmania as its last stronghold.
However, a study published late in 2022 found that the Tasmanian population of carnivores has been in decline for 35 years as a result of habitat loss, climate change and predation by feral cats, leaving the species on the brink of extinction.
Now, Team EQ, an alliance of experts funded by the Australian Research Council (ARC), wildlife sanctuaries and the World Wide Fund for Nature, is hoping to top up populations in areas where EQs are struggling in Tasmania with captive-bred EQs.
A trial of the early intervention approach to conservation proved successful, with high survival rates among the marsupials released into the wild.
David Hamilton, a member of Team EQ and conservation biologist, said lessons learned from the wider Tasmanian project would guide attempts to reintroduce the species to the mainland.
"A lot of conservation measures are kind of a triage, where the species has declined to such an extent that you don't have many opportunities to learn," he told News Corp Australia recently.
"Whereas at this point we know that EQs are doing all right in some places and struggling in others. So one of the really valuable things about this project is we're still able to get in and do a bit of science and experimentation."
The eastern quoll, easily identified by its white-spotted coat, can grow up to 66 centimeters long and approximately one kilogram in weight.
The team will spend 18 months using remote cameras and trapping to identify the six sites where population decline is most severe before releasing the captive-bred quolls. ■