AUSTRALIAN MARCH 2017 Issue 1
carnivorous kɑːˈnɪv(əә)rəәs/ CAPERS in
is missing …
WELCOME TO OUR NEW EMAGAZINE The AQC is very enthusiastic about increasing its profile across the globe. So welcome to our first eMagazine. This will be a professionally finished digital product with stories and activities on wildlife and the environment from Australia and around the world. This new eMagazine, a glossy quarterly edition, available to print, download or view online is also free of charge and will replace the previous AQC newsletters. Like our quolls, other wildlife will also be represented here. Their courage, their tenacity and resilience will be conveyed as we strive to achieve our motto … “Saving one animal won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that one animal”. Alberto Vale Editor In Chief Contact details ph: 0412 632 328 firstname.lastname@example.org www.quolls.org.au Postal PO BOX 510 Smithfield Qld 4878
In this edition:
AQC Management Committee
How it Came About … page 16
President Luke Jackson
Genesis is missing … page 4 Upcoming Research Projects … page 7 Recent AQC Research … page 10 Documentary Feedback … page 12
Endangered .. meaning? … page 20 Willow, graceful slender and lithe … page 25
Vice President & Treasurer Alberto Vale
Carnivorous Capers … page 28
Secretary Amber Jackson
APEX Predators … page 33
Reader story contributions are welcome. Content will be subject to editor’s discretion.
Shifting Ranges … page 31
Cassowary Awards … page 36 Otways Tiger Quoll … page 37 Quollity Donations & Memberships … page 41
Disclaimer: Views expressed in the AQC eMagazine are not necessarily those of AQC.
story by Alberto Vale
The AQC first became aware of a male quoll named Genesis back in early March 2016. His disappearance thereafter from our cameras in late March 2016 posed an immediate suggestion that he may “have just gone walkabout for a little while” or worst case, have incurred death by foul play. Males are well known for being fearless, aggressive and to travel extreme distances searching for new territories and/or partners. Now with months doubling rapidly and with no more clues to his whereabouts, the AQC contemplated that he might have just perished somewhere in the field. Remarkably within the first week of celebrations of the New Year 2017, we also rejoiced. Genesis was back after all! He was thankfully none the worse for wear and slightly more trimmed since March 2016. We could finally determine that it was him as the spots were verified at a match of 99.9%. Now happy to have this animal back, several outstanding questions still remained. Where did his travels take him to? Could his return be simply because he was unable to find any of his kind, reverting home to the colony he knew and where he has a place? Hopefully if his disappearing antic doesn't repeat, our way of thinking may have been right all along.
Images © WildCAM Australia ®
SOMETHING L A I C E P S Stockland & Smithfield Cairns Stores Sponsoring “Australian Quoll Conservancy” Research Projects
UPCOMING RESEARCH P RO J E C T S A 2017-2022 Research Study Project on the Northern Spotted-tailed Quoll ‘Dasyurus maculatus gracilis’ is proposed to start mid year 2017. The research team consists of principal investigators Alberto Vale & Luke Jackson of the Australian Quoll Conservancy, with the assistance of the UK International Institution field scientist Paige Donnelly (Nottingham Trent University MRes in Endangered Species Recovery and Conservation), the Wet Tropics Management Authority and Queensland Park Rangers, a veterinarian and local community members registered with the Australian Quoll Conservancy. The project in summary intends to deal with the following species pressures (threats) and fulfil the objectives and goals of the National Recovery Plan for the management of these species in North Queensland:
1 2 3
Updated studies of the ecology on the Dasyurus maculatus gracilis.
Maintaining and protecting existing habitat and biodiversity.
Corridors Restoring alienated habitat corridors.
Augmentation & Monitoring Translocation of juveniles to increase Lamb Range colony if research determines this necessary.
Awareness Raising Australian and International awareness and involvement about Quolls and the pressures they face.
Wild Dogs Analysing wild dog corridors and symbiotic relationship with STQ’s.
Control Long-term control and management of Eutherian carnivores especially wild cats.
continued next page
Paige is an aspiring marsupial conservationist passionate about recovering and conserving endangered marsupial species under threat of extinction. Paigeâ€™s love for Australiaâ€™s marsupials has led her to focus her masters thesis on the northern Spotted-tailed Quoll Dasyurus maculatus gracilis and to come visit the AQC in 2017. Presently, Paige is specialising in species recovery with regards to theories, methods and techniques required to successfully recover endangered species. Species recovery is a recognised scientific approach to the conservation of threatened species. Through her masters thesis, Paige is currently developing her knowledge of areas such as population dynamics, reintroduction and translocation, management of non-invasive species, mitigation of conservation efforts and habitat preparation. Practical skills include radiotelemetry, necropsy, scat dietary analysis, surveying methods and animal capture and handling techniques. In addition, Paige is developing advanced skills in quantitative and qualitative research data analysis. Each of these areas will assist Paige in conducting her project on the northern Spottedtailed Quoll with the AQC. Paige is very excited to come work with us in 2017 and will repeatedly visit Australia as a member of our longterm research project to safeguard the gracilis race from extinction. Paige Donnelly UK Field Researcherâ€¨ BSc (Hons) Animal Biology & MRes in Endangered Species Recovery and Conservation at Nottingham Trent University assisting the AQC with 2017-2019 & 2020-2022 Research Study Project on the Northern Spotted-tailed Quoll Dasyurus maculatus gracilis in North Queensland, Australia
Art & Merchandise for Saleâ€¨ Art Commissions Welcome www.ambergillettart .com.au
RECENT AQC R E S E A RC H The AQC was very busy in the second half of 2016 undertaking a range of motion sensor camera surveys in the Wet Tropics in an attempt to determine the presence of Spotted-tailed Quolls in parts of their known former range. The research was part of a QLD Community Grant obtained by the AQC which funded multiple camera surveys. Areas targeted for surveying were: · the National Parks of the Misty Mountains in collaboration with National Parks Ranger Chris Roach. (This study has now 25 cameras deployed and has been going since April 2016 and is an ongoing study) · the Lamb Range, · areas around the GIllies Highway, · Gadgarra National Park · Wooronooran National Park, and · Mt Lewis National Park. Quolls were found at the Lamb Range and Mt Lewis National Park and with a recent discovery of a juvenile Spotted-tailed quoll in the Misty Mountains now under further investigation. Unfortunately none of the other areas revealed further quolls. We know that quolls are in these other dominions as there has been sightings and photos taken of them in the past few years. However, it is likely that their numbers are very low with some colonies possibly declining. Hence why it is important for the AQC to continue its research and monitoring to determine where quolls can still be found, what threats are affecting their populations and how can such threats be mitigated or eliminated to give the quolls a chance. That will largely be the thrust of our upcoming research in the next few years across the Wet Tropics. AQC Members and Volunteers will soon be called upon to participate in this research. Please monitor our Facebook and look out for posts that say "We 10 need you."
It led to the secret places, the lost places , deserted towns and wildlife tales Colin Hooper - engineer and historian - is the renowned author of a series of books on North Queensland deserted towns. Decades of ongoing research and field trips have resulted in the publication of deserted towns books. The research is ongoing as the demise of towns continues. The Constitution Bill of 1892 was passed proposing the state of North Queensland. The southern border was to be latitude 12o20'S. It was never enacted because of impending Federation. This is the first of a series of books on the North Queensland districts and the many deserted towns and camps to be found in them. The series is structured to facilitate visiting the sites mentioned in them while feeling an affinity for them and those who made such places home. To a large extent the land itself formed their character to go out into the country alone as many did, to face the enormity of this land as an insignificant speck of humanity. When night shrinks the horizons, is still overawed by the immensity of the stars, is to come face to face with yourself. It is a process by which even the proudest and most arrogant always returns humbled. But they also come back strong. It is a true initiation, not possible in an urban environment, surrounded by people and noise
D O C U M E N T A RY FEEDBACK
story by Alberto Vale
Quolls Fast & Furious' first national broadcast in Australia was in January 8, 2017. We now look at the feedback of this unique nature documentary and the interest & awareness generated by it for the Spotted-tailed Quoll “gracilis" race. Australians still show significant apathy towards our national wildlife, mostly because we tend to live unattached from the natural world. Being a highly urbanised nation, we rarely see or visit our native wildlife, especially at night. Even now as a greater environmental conscientiousness is upon us, for some “the jury is still out”. If a subject is not presented before our eyes, we tend to proceed with our uncaring ways - unaware of what’s happening. This is very much like the animated movie “WALL-E”, where seven hundred years into the future the Earth is over-run with garbage and devoid of plant and animal life. This is the consequence of years of environmental degradation and thoughtless consumerism. So in other words, if we need to change, we need a better participation by Australian broadcasters in highlighting the plight of Australian wildlife. More Australian nature filmed documentaries should be given the opportunity to be aired in our country, this should be the Australian thing to do. And yes, international blue chip documentaries by European producers still have their place, but so do our Australian produced wildlife documentaries. Why should networks sacrifice the integrity of Australian producers and reject their nature based documentaries until their visual masterpieces are broadcast overseas? And only when they reach the desired international plaudits are they finally noticed and given acceptance by Australian broadcasters. I recall the comment from one national broadcaster while trying to promote the distribution sale for the “GREEN ANTS Friend Or Foe?”. Her written comments stated that this documentary “won’t go well with our viewers”. In contrast this documentary has proven to be one of the most successful broadcasted productions by WildCAM Australia in the Nature Genre and entomology. Remarkably this documentary screened on ZDF to over 100 million viewers in German/Swiss and Austrian television plus Malaysia, Italy, the Middle East, Arabic speaking countries of North Africa, China, Canada, South East Asia, Spain, Portugal and Portuguese speaking African countries, the Al Jazeera documentary channel and Russia. It is still being broadcast in these countries BUT NOT IN AUSTRALIA. 12
Emmaline Hardy 1st AC on set
So this brings us to “Quolls Fast and Furious” national broadcast. A week prior to the scheduled national broadcast on January 8, 2017 all TV Guides had in place the broadcast in fine print. While a 4:00pm time slot wasn’t the best, it was better than screening in Town Halls. Disturbing however was the unfortunate absence of any attempt by the Nine Network of any advertising for this nature documentary. This is something one would think should have had applied but was never made. If none of our personal and intensive advertising was never done prior to broadcast using peoples media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and the mail-out to all the Australian Quoll Conservancy members, this national public viewing would have been another wildlife broadcast to slip through the cracks. However the results and viewers participation had us revering our efforts in making this animal a national icon. With over 30K people reached on Facebook alone, we were set to pay tribute to this speechless species. With NO negative feedback, praise began to mount from a range of groups, such as Queensland Parks, the Wet Tropics Management Authority, Rangers and our large appreciative public. We received witnessed retweets such as “If you are indoors this arvo, then flick on the TV & check out this story on #Quolls” by (Bob Irwin Wildlife) Followers to our Facebook also shared their tributes: “brought a few tears to my eyes though , pulled at the heart stings” (@Tarnee_R) “Congratulations to the AQC on your tireless efforts to save this amazing animal I hope this lifts the profile of the gracilis & its struggle for survival well done!” (Ian Cognito) and Twitter: “Congratulations @QuollOz on a fabulous documentary: “Quolls Fast and Furious” - critical conservation messaging for mainstream Australia” (Jessica Stingemore & ) “@Quoll Oz Brillant documentary! THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR DEDICATION & COMMITMENT 2 SAVE OUR #QUOLLS It broke my heart” (Linda Gill) “Congratulations @QuollOz on the “Quolls Fast And Furious” Beautifully filmed, supremely narrated and factually “spot-on” (pun intended)” (Rebel With A Cause) Overall both the production team and all those that volunteered studio time for narration and music have accomplished a milestone in awareness of this cryptic species. We all agree “Saving one animal won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that one animal”
â€¨ R O NS
RV NSE O C L S UOL ROJECT Q N P IA RCH RAL A T S E AU RES
HOW IT CAME ABOUT? QUOLLS FAST & FURIOUS Back in 2013 an individual in Tasmania called the WildCAM Australia® office in Cairns inquiring if they had a documentary on quolls. Informing the caller that they didn't … and with the conversation eventually ending shortly thereafter, curiosity kicked in. Google to the rescue … Finding one 16 year old contrived quoll documentary filmed in Tasmania titled “Baby-Faced Assassins” the storyline portrayed Spottedtailed Quoll as serial killers. The sombre reality emerged once more about the extinction of the Tasmanian Tiger and that the same could be happening to Spotted-tailed Quolls in Tasmania or elsewhere soon. So spreading their research afield, they came across Luke Jackson.
story by Alberto Vale
Luke was located amazingly in Cairns. Luke and Glen Kvassey were running a branch of the Quoll Seekers Network (WPSQ) in Far North Queensland. With our contact established, Luke and Glen were overjoyed as they had always dreamt of having a documentary made on quolls and this was now a very near reality. In a meeting with Luke, the production team found that the northern species of the Spotted-tailed Quoll, the “gracilis" (meaning slender) race, was endangered. The population now had very small numbers in existence and the species was “not on anyones radar". During an isolation for over 200 years, Luke explained that this species was now of extreme importance genetically. Their fragile altitude requirements and
environmental regime made them to a very great degree, different from others quolls in southern eastern states including Tasmania. Now governed by Luke's camera motion sensor trapping permit, it was decided to place a camera with bait in a known area to Luke and where quolls had been recorded a year earlier. Nature filmmakers are a restless bunch and always eager to get going, and so they did. On the following day upon deploying the sacrificed bait, the crew was now in situ and prepared for a long night stakeout. On the flat-tray of the crew’s Ute, they waited in silence, patiently, as night progressed.
Approaching the midnight hours, piercing like fighting sounds called-out from behind the crewâ€™s vehicle. This peculiar sound was nothing that we had ever heard before. So amidst the pitch cold black night, they continued sitting in silence. They began to wonder if that was a quoll and contemplated Luke's guarantee that they would come.
The crew eventually named it Polka-Dot-Jazz. Although weary of our presence, she did become very familiar with us as the days and weeks passed. One day she approached the cameraman and smelled his shoes .. we knew then that she trusted us.
Minutes later after this strange and unidentifiable sound, very gentle steps started to be heard. Slight crunching of the leaf litter become more apparent until, from underneath the vehicle, a weary quoll finally appeared! Now with numb fingers and remaining ecstatically paralysed, they soon managed to overcome a frozen state and euphoria took hold. Their first Spotted-tailed Quoll was now in range of their lens, and what a sight it was.
The next few months they were greeted with an array of surprising antics. She would either run down the road towards the cameras, soon after hearing the arrival of our vehicle, or be already in position like a living statue spooking the camera man. One day during filming she would come and remove herself briefly by exiting stage right only to reappear again at stage left. The crew was intrigued as to what was going on. They couldn't understand why the rapid changes of exit directions .. until it was realised, they were not dealing with one but two different quolls! Unfortunately, erroneously forgetting to switch and record the event, they only had this witnessing for "Their Eyes Only". The two quolls now together for the first time, a mother and her adult daughter. This new quoll was named "Cheeky Monkey" (her fur pattern looked like a cheeky monkey puppet sock facial design.) She eventually became the most reliable quoll and most revered quoll by the crew, as her cues where impeccable for a completely wild animal.
Months passed and while Luke and the crew continued searching for more quolls, the immediate area soon revealed two other quolls and again named accordingly by either their spot pattern or their wild disposition. These became know as "Southern Cross" and "Miki" (Japanese meaning for "beautiful"). Miki was then calculated to be just over one year old. Now the crew had all the quoll gender confirmed, four females, three being adults and one juvenile. Regrettably a few months later, Polka-DotJazz failed to be captured again on camera and the crew realised that she came to the end of her fruitful life of three years in the wild. Her daughter Cheeky Monkey now took over her mother's rainforest patch. A year soon passed, with filming continuing four to five days a week, with no end in sight. Soon another sad time for the crew had once more materialised, with the passing of Cheeky Monkey and then later, Southern Cross - the only living sister to Polka-DotJazz. Now another unpleasant idea surfaced, with no further animals being sighted on motion sensor cameras including missing male quolls, the emotions of the crew soon darkened realising the potential inability of this colony to survive. Aware that most of these filmed quolls were now gone, Miki was the last surviving quoll in this colony and her chances of meeting a male, find love and have young of her own to care and nurture, were now doomed.
So what will be the fate of Miki, will she find love at last? Or die without a legacy? To be continued â€Ś Quolls- still Fast, still Furious, the Sequel.
Online copy available atâ€¨ http://www.wettropics.gov.au/site/user-assets/docs/sowt2015-16b5-lres.pdf
Endangered .. meaning? story byâ€¨ Luke Jackson
what does the word endangered .. really mean? The word “endangered” has permeated so heavily through everything relating to conservation that its real meaning has almost been lost. Everything seems to be endangered these days. The overuse and misrepresentation of the word has essentially meant that its true meaning and effect has diminished or completely disappeared. The media, the government, wildlife and conservation groups and plenty of others all constantly refer to it, have it in legislation and use it to justify their actions and funding. But who decides what is endangered and what isn’t? And what is really endangered?
population has dropped in a decade, a total population number threshold, the area of land it still occupies, and what percentage chance will it survive in the next few decades if threatening pressures don’t abate. The magic number for a critically endangered animal is 250 with continuing decline or an animal where there are fewer than 50 individuals left. For an endangered animal its 2,500 animals with continuing decline or less than 250 animals. For a vulnerable species it’s less than 10,000 with continual decline.
This article attempts to examine these questions and how our current conservation practises may be adversely affecting animals that are truly threatened with imminent extinction compared to those that are a long way off it.
In Australia, a raft of protections are in place for endangered animals. There is legislation to enact such protection which is delivered by the govt and private/community conservation groups. Examples of such legislation are the Federal EPBC Act and State Acts such as the Nature Conservation Act in QLD. Species identified as endangered often have Recovery Plans developed for them as a strategy for long term action and funding justification to protect species.
So what is something that is endangered? Animals and plants that are at risk of becoming extinct because of threats from changing environments or predators are considered threatened or endangered. An "endangered" species is any species in danger of extinction through all or a significant portion of its range. A "threatened" species is any species that is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) keeps track of endangered species around the world. As of 2006, the IUCN estimates that up to 40 percent of all organisms are endangered. The IUCN has a comprehensive assessment criteria to determine what is endangered. You can view this at the following link: https:// goo.gl/g5TFlJ. The criteria works off a range of items including by how much percent an animal’s
Governments and conservation groups will often fund conservation projects for certain animals based on these recovery plans. But have we got the mix right? Are we putting our money into saving the really endangered animals? Or are we wasting money on animals that are actually doing fine, but have an ongoing perception of being in trouble? And is this causing a problem for potentially some real victims that are the truly endangered animals that have been blindsided by the conservation movement? A table below is provided summarising the status of a range of well known species and less well known species, including the four Australian quolls. image story zooaquarium.org.au Kieran Parkes
what does the word endangered .. really mean?
COMPARISON TABLE OF SPECIES, POPULATION AND STATUS LISTING Species Name
Population noted by IUCN
Listing in Australia
Up to 25,000
10,000 – 12,000 decreasing
Up to 10,000
Up to 10,000
Spotted-tailed Quoll 20,000 (less than 1000 in FNQ) decreasing
Unknown – Near possibly up to Threatened 20,000 (approximately 500 in FNQ)
Unknown. Endangered 500 estimated
Black-footed Rock- 8,000 Wallaby decreasing
Up to 10,000
2,000 – 3,000 decreasing
Western Lowland Gorilla
150,000-250,0 NA 00
Western Swamp Tortoise
30 in the wild. 200 in zoos
Unknown. Estimated 500
Noting that in terms of most in trouble to least in trouble the categories go: Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, Near Threatened So what can we glean from this data and the terminology used for these species. It is clear that various organisations have conflicting data and conflicting status levels for species. The Northern Quoll for instance,
which has at least 10,000 animals just in the Cairns area, is listed globally and nationally as endangered, whilst the three other species of quolls are listed as near threatened or endangered despite their numbers mostly being less than half of that of the northern quoll. The Western Lowland Gorilla with over 150,000 animals is critically endangered whilst the Western Swamp
what does the word endangered .. really mean? Tortoise with 30 animals is also critically endangered. The Giant Panda with 1,500 animals is vulnerable whilst the Tiger with almost double the population is endangered. As you can see from reading the data, to the lay person there is no consistency here or any sense when some animals with high populations are endangered whilst others with low populations are vulnerable. There is a lot of press nationally around how endangered Cassowaries are, but a recent report shows that the numbers are double to triple what is usually broadcast and these animals are very secure in terms of habitat largely in inaccessible forests. Much money is spent on this animal in urban areas where people come into contact with them and
Western and Eastern Quolls on this list – which clearly are not remotely critically endangered or even mildly in trouble of extinction compared to so many other mammals – seems completely misguided. The subspecies of Spotted-tailed Quoll in north QLD, the Buff-Breasted Button-Quail and many other species which we have not mentioned, are in a dire situation in terms of population numbers. Such species have been completely ignored through this flawed selection process which seems to be more aligned to assisting lobby groups than saving endangered animals. The method for protection is also flawed in that it singles out individual animals rather than bundling rare ones that live side by side
Bundle rare ones and then lobby the Federal Government for support. Equally, the Brush-tailed RockWallaby with a population of over 20,000 animals has had millions spent on it over the years trying to re-establish tiny localised colonies. The Buff-Breasted Button-Quail on the other hand has never been photographed and is seen perhaps once every two or three years. Not one targeted cent is spent on its conservation. The Threatened Species Commissioner recently released a list of 20 mammals and 20 birds that funding will be focused toward for their protection under the threatened species strategy. This is a highly conflicted document in terms of what it is trying to achieve in saving wildlife. It would appear that many animals have been cherry picked due to pressure from lobby groups instead of an actual objective and in depth analysis of what really needs help. See link for mammals https://goo.gl/q27Vlw The policy is applauded for the highly endangered animals that are on the list which deserve protection. But to have
into a pool together where money and resources can be shared to get bang for buck (i.e. Cassowary, Northern Quoll, Spotted-tailed Quoll, Northern Bettong, Mahogany Glider – all live side by side but only two are flagged in the report). Clearly a more robust and objective structure for determining what is endangered needs to occur so that conservation groups and government can focus their effort on the real problem. The Species Strategy Action Plan produced by the Federal Government also requires reconsideration. The strategy should focus on endangered animals, bundling species together rather than targeting single species (for almost every animal in that document, there is at least another animal that lives side by side that the resources could be pooled into one project for) and sidelining vested interest/lobby groups. If we don’t get this right, the ones that really are endangered, will disappear.
AUSTRALIAN QUOLL CONSERVANCY RESEARCH PROJECTS
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WILLOW gracefully slender and lithe
story byâ€¨ Adam Fegan
My Name is Adam Fegan and I run a wildlife education business called A&A Wildlife down in Melbourne, Victoria. As an educator my job is to raise awareness about our native wildlife to the public. For animals such as Spotted-tailed Quolls spreading awareness to the public is vital to the conservation of this species. I want absolutely nothing more than to see Quolls thriving in the Australian bush and as an educator that is my primary goal however a significant and potentially overlooked problem we face is that the vast majority of the Australian public have no idea what a Spotted-tailed Quoll is (or any quoll for that matter!) let alone that they are an endangered species. Without public knowledge it can make it increasingly difficult to source much needed donations, support and change amongst the community.
I’m lucky enough to own a captive bred Spottedtailed Quoll to help me in my mission to spread awareness about this species and she also helps us raise important funds for the AQC through donations at our public wildlife talks. I’d say around 90% of people who see my talks & displays tell me that they didn’t even know the species existed until they saw my little girl Willow, a statistic that I find extremely troubling! Although Willow is a very important part of my mission to bring quolls into the public light, she is first and foremost a very much loved pet.
Willow has exceeded my expectations as a pet for many reasons however I will try and keep it brief. She is extremely playful, has a large selection of toys and we literally play for hours on end each day. She is very friendly, even to complete strangers which means Willow always leaves a great impression on people at our public talks. Willow even uses a litter box at home which makes her a very clean animal to have around the house. She is awake at pretty much the same time as I am, usually waking up at around 7 to 8am and plonking back on her bed for the night at 10:30pm (she is surprisingly never awake late at night). Willow also naps periodically throughout the day, much like a cat would. One thing that is really interesting is how affectionate she is, far more affectionate than any cat I’ve met. Willow will quite often 26
Since having Willow with us I’ve been able to inform thousands of people about Quolls and to me that means thousands more Australians recognise the plight of these animals and can go on to donate and support change in our environment, if allowing suitable and knowledgeable individuals to keep these guys as pets furthers the raising of awareness to more of the public then I am all for it. seek cuddles from us and prefer to nap near us, whether we be sitting on the couch, on the bed or anywhere else in the house Willow will either be curled up on us or never too far away. In saying this, she is still a very independent animal and is an avid explorer with a strong sense of smell who won’t hesitate to inspect new areas to find something to do and play with. She is particularly fond of stealing socks and playing with anything that makes a crunchy sound. One of her favourite things to do is to sunbake on a window sill when she’s a little worn out, similar to how wild Quolls have been observed sunbaking in the wild. I can’t speak highly enough of Willow and I do believe that it is possible that in the not too distant future Quolls could be introduced to knowledgeable households throughout Australia as potential pets as this will only help increase awareness for the species. We currently have strong support and strong opposition to the notion of keeping native wildlife as pets and even though we would all prefer to see this wonderful animal thrive in the wild I believe in the case of the Spotted-tailed Quoll it’s time to start to think outside the box.
I believe that we owe it to our quolls to explore all avenues in our quest to save the species.
Images Adam Fegan
story byâ€¨ Luke Jackson
C A R N I VO RO U S CAPERS Whilst travelling with my family in Tasmania, I made a point of going out with the kids and looking for native wildlife, of course Spotted-tailed Quolls and Eastern Quolls being high on the agenda. Â We saw Spottedtailed Quolls and Eastern Quolls at the same camp site at the Edgar Dam in the Southwest Wilderness, we saw lots of young eastern quolls in the camp ground at Mt Field National Park, we
I N TA S M A N I A
saw Spotted-tailed Quolls in the day and at night at Cradle Mountain National Park and a Spottedtailed Quoll at sunset at the Narrawantpu National Park in the north. We also saw Tasmanian Devils on Maria Island but saw none (barring a dead one) in Tasmania proper. I spoke to a few other travellers who had been lucky enough to see a Tasmanian Devil, including in areas where the Devil Facial
Image Source Public Domain
Tumour had been around for a couple of decades. We saw a dead large Devil on the road near Devonport but it didn’t seem to have the tumour. There is no doubting that this horrible cancer has had a huge impact on Tasmanian Devil numbers as they are very rarely seen there now. What I did notice however, was the seeming abundance of Spotted-tailed Quolls. I have been to Tasmania three other times, and only on one of those trips did I see Spotted-tailed Quolls. On that trip I looked constantly almost all night for nearly 2 weeks and saw only 2 Spotted-tailed Quolls. This time I saw them 5 difference times, including two in the day. To me, it seemed that the Spotted-tailed Quolls have increased. There is the potential that the loss of the Devil has been good for the Spotted-tailed Quoll as I suspect the Spotted-tailed Quoll has now
become the apex native predator in Tasmania and its numbers are increasing as it doesn’t need to compete with Devils for road kill or other dead animals. It would be an interesting study for a researcher in southern Australia/Tasmania to investigate this theory by comparing Spottedtailed Quoll sightings every 5 years over several locations from the past 20 years. I suspect that there has been an increase in Spotted-tailed Quoll populations and density in this time, commensurate with the drop in Devil numbers. So if there are any research students out there who need a research project, this could be a good one to see what effect the low density of Tasmanian Devils is having on other native predators.
Eastern Quoll volunteers to kitchen cleaning duties, while a Tasmania Devil sets its own footprints
Images Luke Jackson
LARGEST MARSUPIAL CARNIVORE IN MAINLAND AUSTRALIA Australian Quoll Conservancy Research Projects www.quolls.org.au 30
CLIMATE CHANGE IS SHOWING US THAT MANY ANIMALS AND PLANTS WILL BE UNABLE TO ADAPT RAPIDLY ENOUGH TO SURVIVE IN THE FUTURE.
SHIFTING RANGES story byâ€¨ Alberto Vale
SOME SPECIES HAVE NOWHERE TO GO BECAUSE THEY ARE ALREADY AT THE TOP OF A MOUNTAIN OR AT THE NORTHERN LIMIT OF LAND SUITABLE FOR THEIR HABITAT Shifting Ranges is now more related to global warming and temperature rises than our Australian continental shelf movements. Climate has been on everyones mind especially when we now witness significant variations in the Australian weather and its direct affects on our ecosystems. According to Dr James Watson of the University of Queensland: “Many experts have got these climate assessments wrong – in some cases, massively so”. The impact of climate change on one species or ecosystem, is often cast forward 50 or 100 years, ignoring the fact the climate is already altered. “I think that’s a real problem with how the scientific community has communicated the issue, because people are always labelling it as a future threat. When you combine the evidence, the impact on species is already really dramatic" and its here now. Some species of animals are now more vulnerable than others, in particular mammals like the Spotted-tailed Quoll "gracilis" race in North Queensland. AQC current assessments of vulnerability to climate change is showing us that this species will lose the ability to rapidly adapt into the future if they aren't monitored. As temperatures increase, the habitat ranges of many North Queensland species are moving to higher elevations. In recent decades, in both land and aquatic environments, the US showed plants and animals have moved to higher elevations at a median rate of 36 feet (0.011 kilometers) per decade, and to higher latitudes at a median rate of 10.5 miles (16.9 kilometers) per decade. This means likewise in North Queensland there will be a range expansion for some species, while for others it will mean movement into less hospitable habitat, increased competition, or range reduction, with some species have nowhere to go because they are already at the top of a mountain or at the northern limit of land suitable for their habitat. These factors will lead to local extinctions of both plants and animals in some areas. These shifting ranges could and will support the spread of pathogens, parasites and diseases with potentially serious effects on human health, agriculture and fisheries. In the United States by 2100, ranges of vegetative biomes are projected to change across 5-20% of the land. What will be Australia's projected change on our unique vegetative biomes should now be of grave concern for government, scientists and voters to work together and diminish the impacts of extreme conditions as we have already surpassed the tipping point.
APEX P R E D AT O R S story byâ€¨ Charles Wooley
I recently saw a stupid advertisement for a car, the Hyundai Tucson, in which a scantily clad young lady casually removes her belt and lashes out at a snake that appears to be quite innocently gliding past. The predator girl is striking in both senses of the word but the snake is also a creature of great beauty and apparently minding its own business. I can’t recall anything about the vehicle or indeed ever hearing about it. Which is strange as the commercial could easily be seen as a blatant promotion for the random eradication of snakes. See a snake and kill it! “This won’t run for long,” I thought, my PC receptors twitching in the assumption that Bob Brown or Australia Zoo or the Australian Herpetological Association would quickly object to such casual destruction of our wildlife. Bad publicity, I was sure, would see the Tucson go the way of the Leyland P76, which celebrates its fortieth birthday this year and for older readers will bring back some very funny memories. But no, I discovered the Tucson commercial had been running since early last year. Either I missed the outcry or the sales pitch was totally eclipsed by that other much more catchy
campaign, “Guess who bought a Jeep”. I should disclose that Jeep is a sponsor of ‘60 Minutes’ on the Nine Network. But no, that wasn’t me been tooling around the west coast in a Jeep, tearing up the countryside and desecrating archaeological middens. Nor have I been killing snakes. In fact I was in Norway, as far away as you can get, at 78 degrees north, well inside the Arctic Circle in the frozen wastes of a place called Svalbard, where Nature really is mean and even brave men are afraid. It is considered dangerous to venture far from the confines of town without being properly armed. Svalbard is about the size of Tasmania. There are about 3000 people and they are seriously outnumbered by polar bears. Svalbard is a place that concentrates the mind with a biological reality long lost to most of modern humanity; the frightening notion that we are not always the apex predator. There are still places in the world where we are not the most dangerous of animals. The landscape was white and in early March, still semi-dark. The bears are white of course and so almost invisible and in the sub-zero temperatures they are always hungry. 34
“Never go out alone”, they told me. “Always take someone with you and always make sure that you can run faster than your companion.” Adult male bears can stand erect at well over three meters and weigh up to 700kg. Alarmingly, they can sprint at up to 40 kilometers an hour. Leaner, hungrier bears are the fastest but even a fat slow one could easily catch Hussein Bolt.
Meanwhile the other camper had been scrabbling around in the snow trying to reassemble the rifle. Finally he succeeded and killed the bear. His friend though bloodied and battered survived, though he never again camped out in bear country. The police conducted an enquiry and after due deliberation they found that the killing had been justified and no charges were laid.
You might as well, just like the Hyundai predator girl, remove your belt and flick it at the bear.
The Norwegians are an outdoor people, despite their rigorous climate. Unlike Australians they are close to nature and inhabit their whole country. Perhaps we are largely out of touch with our own land because 75 percent of us live in five major cities. Snakes are scary and should be killed. Sharks and crocodiles are evil and must be punished. The attitude in Norway is entirely different. Polar bears are accorded almost citizenship rights in the frozen white north. Had the bear in the story escaped, I learned there would have been no retaliation.
The more practical advice is always to go armed with a high calibre weapon and carry flares to fire between you and the bear. They will sometimes scare him off. If not, you are in trouble. He will quite literally eat you alive. The law says you must only use a rifle as a last resort. In Svalbard, killing a polar bear is a serious offence, punishable by high fines and imprisonment. You will have to prove in court that you were justified in killing the animal. I never did determine what legally constitutes ‘reasonable force’ in the face of 700kg of hungry bear heading towards me at 40kph. Around the fire in snowbound cabins the locals will regale you with terrible tales. Such as this story about two campers, who tried to do all the right things. They surrounded their tent with trip wires attached to flare guns to scare any intruding bear. They also had a rifle in the tent. But something went wrong and the flare didn’t work. The bear entered the tent and took one of the men by the shoulder. In the struggle his rifle came apart and the bear dragged him away, changing its grip to take the camper’s head in its enormous jaws. Fifty meters from the tent the bear stood erect with the man dangling from its mouth, his feet kicking helplessly in the air. He could smell the foul breath of the animal and he could hear the sounds of his own skull bones cracking and feel the crunching of the bear’s teeth breaking into his head.
“The bear”, I was told at the end of that grizzly fireside tale “was just being a bear.”
Image credits: http://www.newhdwallpapersin.com/polar-bear-latest-hd-wallpapers-free-download/ http://www.rarewallpapers.com/animals/sleeping-polar-bears-20921/ https://issuu.com/svebe/docs/top_of_the_world_2015 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svalbard#/media/File:Topographic_map_of_Svalbard.svg
Alberto Vale & Emmaline Hardy of the AQC
The 2016 Cassowary Awards event was held at Hartley's Crocodile Adventures on Saturday 3 December. The impressive lineup of contenders for the eight award categories included the Australian Quoll Conservancy, winning the category “Innovation” at the awards dinner. AQC wishes to thank all those voluntary nominations from the public and including AQC members and Rangers. Further information on other winners and finalists can be obtained here: http:// www.wettropics.gov.au/2016-cassowary-awards.html 36
OTWAYS TIGER QUOLL (Tiger Quoll otherwise known as Spotted-tailed Quoll)
story by Jack Pascoe
Image © Doug Gimesy
In South-West Victoria, the Otway Range is dominated by mountain ash forest, but clinging to the valleys are patches of cool temperate rainforest, relics of Gondwanan vegetation. The Otways is also a refuge to some of the country’s most elusive fauna which are becoming increasingly uncommon across the State. One of these species, the Tiger Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus maculatus), has become emblematic of the region to the Conservation Ecology Centre (CEC). The CEC is an NGO which focuses on applied research to influence land management and improve conservation outcomes – our focus is the threatened species of the Otways. The CEC’s first flagship program was a quest for Quolls, searching for evidence that Quolls still persisted in the region, as they had not been sighted in over a decade. Implementing a range of techniques including deploying infra-red motion-sensor cameras we found that evidence was hard to come by.
positive for Quoll DNA. This was extremely rewarding and the CEC and our partners redoubled our efforts. Within a couple of weeks of that first confirmation a Parks Victoria ranger collected a scat while working in the National Park and sent it to us - the scat returned quoll positive. Since 2012 we have found further pieces of evidence, including
In order to increase our understanding of the Otways Tiger Quoll we developed a partnership with Canidae Development to train conservation detection dogs with the ability to locate the scat of Tiger Quolls. Our plan was to find scats and send DNA extracted from the sample to a laboratory to confirm that it was a Quoll scat. In 2012 a chance a sighting reported by a couple from a holiday house in Lorne, led to the discovery of a scat which tested 38
several images collected by Parks Victoria during regular fauna monitoring with infra-red cameras.
This year the Otway Ark, a native mammal recovery program, will be rolled out across the Otway landscape. Already a network of cameras have been deployed to measure the baseline of native mammal and exotic predator activity. This ongoing monitoring program is designed to keep a finger on the pulse of the Otways fauna as the Otway Arkâ€™s fox control program is launched. Research programs by the CEC and partners will complement the monitoring programs and will measure the abundance of exotic predators and critically threatened mammals like the Southern Brown Bandicoot. We have also trained the Otways Conservation Dog to detect more species, including the Longnosed Potoroo, so that we can use this
Finally, in 2015, our dogs, having been trained meticulously over a period of 4 years, positively identified an old Quoll scat in the Cumberland Valley, after the Otway Conservation Dogs Team responded to a sighting by a Tasmanian researcher familiar with the species. Unfortunately, the scat was too old to provide further information from its DNA, but the concept had been proven. Generating more recordings of the Tiger Quoll is still vitally important for conservation efforts. The CEC has also established a network of researchers, the Otways Threatened Species Research Network to combine resources and increase our impact for threatened species conservation. We have developed a comprehensive database, of more than 11,000 records, which includes all known location data for threatened species including the Tiger Quoll. And we are using this database to develop targeted research questions with our partners, including four universities.
effective technique for the study of other conservation dependant species. We envisage that this will be a new era for the Otways wildlife, and we hope that effective collaboration between researchers and active land management agencies will ensure the conservation of our most threatened species, including the Tiger Quoll. 39
Our sincere gratitude to all our supporters - both in Australia and increasingly abroad - who made donations. Your donations, large or small, have been extremely valuable in assisting with our field work. We appreciate your support and make it public on our Facebook so others can be inspired to and hopefully follow your kind example. In time it is our wish that we can help others, like researchers and individuals, that share the same vision in helping conserve Australiaâ€™s endemic species that are in peril. We are still growing, but having your exemplary support means that we arenâ€™t alone. Â So please distribute this free magazine to as many people as you can so others can also be moved to help save these species.
Australian Quoll Conservancy Magazine #1 March 2017 Free* Advertising / Inquiries & Stories Submissions email email@example.comâ€¨ * Conditions Applyâ€¨
Published on Mar 17, 2017
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