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Quoll Conservation in Northern Territory

Updated: Jul 9, 2022

Quoll conservation in the Northern Territory is top of Gavin Trewella , who is a researcher, mind.

Gavin Trewella, a researcher at Charles Darwin University (CDU), has been working to improve the conservation prospects for the iconic Australian native mammal the northern quoll.

Quolls, a Tasmanian Devil relative, were previously a common mammal in Northern Australia, but their numbers have been rapidly declining due to cane toad invasion, extensive fires, grazing, and feral cat predation.

Northern quolls are critically endangered in the Northern Territory, and they are currently facing various threats.

Northern quolls, the tiniest of the quoll species, can be found in the Northern Territory, Far North Queensland, and northern Western Australia.

Thanks to Rio Tinto's sponsorship, Mr Trewella, a PhD candidate at the Research Institute for Environment and Livelihoods (RIEL), has spent several long, hot field trips to Far North Queensland collecting data on a northern quoll population in the Cape York Peninsula.

Mr Trewella uses camera traps and GPS transmitters to track these secretive, swift nocturnal critters in the savannahs of Weipa, Cape York.

The northern quoll population is confined to a small number of bauxite plateaus that act as natural fire barriers and provide ideal flora and hollows for quolls, according to Mr Trewella's research.

Feral cattle and horses may degrade habitat, increasing the chance of predation by feral cats, according to separate studies conducted by CDU in the Territory.

"My research focuses on determining how habitat quality affects the number of northern quolls," Mr Trewella stated.

"I intend to use what I've learnt to help other quoll populations in Australia by striving to create quoll-friendly habitats."

Because quolls are carnivores, their predation on poisonous cane toads has contributed to the quoll population's decline.

"The cane toad invasion is having an immediate impact on quolls in the Northern Territory and the Kimberley region. "I want to figure out what the quolls need to survive the current cane toad crisis," he added.

"The Northern Quoll population in Australia is at an all-time low. I intend to help the northern quolls repopulate by using the data and findings from my research." Professor John Woinarski, a CDU ecologist and Northern Territory mammal expert, said the northern quoll has undergone a "catastrophic decline" over the years.

"Quolls can still be observed in the Northern Territory, but only in a few places. Professor Woinarski added that twenty years ago, seeing quolls while camping was common, but that is no longer the case.

"It's critical to figure out how the quoll population can coexist with canetoads, and we also need more data on fire regimes to safeguard quolls."


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