4 April 2018
Surprising study results for scarce species

AFTER years of decline due to fire and lack of rain, northern quoll populations are rising again on Groote.

Researchers expect this year to be excellent for the endangered species.

“While numbers were high in 2012 they slowly reduced to about half of our original captures in 2015, most likely due to food availability,” Dr Skye Cameron said.

Dr Skye has led a team of University of Queensland quoll researchers working with the Anindilyakwa Land and Sea Rangers over the past seven years.

“Groote is extremely lucky to have one of the last remaining strong holds,” Dr Skye said

“This is due to the lack of cane toads, limited number of cats and the traditional fire practices of the Anindilyakwa people.”

A surprising finding of the research has been that all male quolls die between September and December every year, due to an intense two-week breeding season in July, where they can roam up to 10 km each night in search of females, forgoing any self-preservation (such as eating) to ensure they father as many young as possible.

Females can live up to three years and give birth in August to about eight young, which can be from multiple fathers.

She called on residents to help protect northern quolls by driving slowly in wildlife crossing areas, closing wheelie bin lids to prevent quolls from becoming trapped and reporting sightings of cats and other invasive species.