Latest update from the South West (Vic) Eastern Quoll Hub

A few weeks ago, members of the SW Vic Eastern Quoll Hub, caught up again for a planning session at Rhynie Pastoral’s Shepherds Hut Sanctuary, where we also had the privilege of seeing a lot of wonderful wildlife (like bettongs and bandicoots) after dark! Although quolls are our group’s flagship species and an obvious priority for us to closely cooperate with across our predator-proof fenced, Free Ranging Enclosures (FRE’s) in the future, we also spent time discussing the importance of a number of other threatened small mammal species that can also benefit from our partnership.

Southern Brown Bandicoot at Shepherds Hut Sanctuary. Photo: Mark Bachmann

These meetings provide a valuable opportunity for us to share experiences and compare notes across our four FRE’s in South West Victoria, that are all progressing well but are currently at different stages of readiness and development. At NGT, we are certainly very grateful to be able to follow in the footsteps of, and learn from, the experiences of Rhynie Pastoral and Dunkeld Pastoral Co. who are a little ahead of us, as we continue on the path towards the release of small mammals at the Mt Vandyke Restoration Reserve.

After the most recent meeting, we also didn’t have to wait long to see further action, with three older female quolls who are no longer required for breeding relocated from the Dunkeld Pastoral Co. captive breeding facility at Mt Sturgeon, to Shepherds Hut Sanctuary on the 18th March. These quolls will now live out their days alongside bettongs and bandicoots, and with the opportunity to help control some of the many rabbits that have also inadvertently benefitted from the removal of foxes and cats inside the fence!

In case you are wondering, the three quolls that were released are called Panda, Quesadilla and Queenie.  They are all older girls Рborn 2020 and 2021 Рand have been living in an enclosure together at Mt Sturgeon for a little while.  Queenie and Quesadilla are sisters, born at Mt Sturgeon in 2021, and Panda is their mum, originally from Trowunna in Tasmania.

Some photos of the release (courtesy of Dunkeld Pastoral Co.) are shown below:

We can also share a video of the special moment that one of the girls was released!

Finally, we are also happy to report that the girls have settled in well to their new home. Jack Tucker from Shepherds Hut Sanctuary says that he has worked out via observation that one quoll has chosen a big pile of logs about 300m from the release point for its den. After a night walk last Saturday (23rd March 2024), quolls were sighted in three separate locations, and a motion sensing camera has detected them getting about as well, as shown below.

Eastern Quoll detected on a motion-sensor camera at Shepherds Hut Sanctuary in March 2024. Photo: Jack Tucker, Rhynie Pastoral.

Stay tuned to the NGT newsletter for more updates from the SWEQ Hub. We’ll have more positive news to share as our combined efforts with quolls and other small mammal species progress over the months and years ahead!

Mark Bachmann