Another leap forward for the South West Eastern Quoll Hub, with the completion of the Mt Sturgeon safe haven fence
On Tuesday 23rd May 2023, members of the South West Eastern Quoll Hub got together for another catch-up, this time at the Dunkeld Pastoral Co.’s Mt Sturgeon Station property, near Dunkeld.
As well as the chance to catch up and compare notes on a wide range of land and fence management topics, we had the opportunity to see the recently completed Mt Sturgeon safe haven fence, which is a key location in the Hub’s strategy to cooperate and share resources to facilitate the return of the Eastern Quoll to the south-western Victorian landscape. At 95 hectares, this is currently the largest of the three safe havens that comprise the Hub, and is situated on the southern doorstep of the Grampians National Park. The fence was completed by Dunkeld Pastoral Co, thanks to the financial support of the Australian Government’s Environment Restoration Fund, via a Threatened Species Strategy Action Plan grant.
The design of the new fence (see below) is very similar to the NGT fence at Mt Vandyke, with the exception of a slightly smaller (30mm rather than 40mm) mesh size at ground level to prevent re-invasion by rabbits after this species is eradicated from inside the fence. We are certainly very fortunate that we do not have to contend with this species at Mt Vandyke!
With 40mm mesh also in place at Shepherds Hut Sanctuary, this 55 hectare safe haven does have rabbits – which adds an interesting point of difference and future food source for quolls when they are eventually released into this site.
The newly fenced area at Mt Sturgeon, incorporates a significant area of red-gum grassy woodland, which is under active conservation management and includes a significant amount of revegetation – as shown below.
In other news that was shared with the group, NGT’s John Bradford provided an update on our current focus on habitat restoration at Mt Vandyke, ahead of eventual future mammal releases inside the fence (we’ll have more to share on our habitat restoration plans in the next month or two).
Over at Shepherds Hut Sanctuary, Rhynie Pastoral’s Jack and Celia Tucker discussed the next steps for their conservation fence, including some minor modifications that are planned to prepare this safe haven for the eventual future arrival of the Eastern Quoll. The current design of the fence at Shepherds Hut is described in this fact sheet generously provided by Rhynie Pastoral.
We concluded the day with a tour of Dunkeld Pastoral Co.’s captive breeding facility for the Eastern Quoll, where we managed to catch a glimpse of some beautiful black (rather than the more common fawn) coloured quolls. Although we still have a number of steps to work through, both individually and collectively towards our vision for the species and the local ecosystems that it used to call home, this was a great way of reminding us what our partnership for this species is all about!
South West Eastern Quoll Hub partners: