Baby tiger quoll births a boon for the species

By Carolyn Barry + Sarah I. Dark 8 November 2012
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The birth of four tiger quoll joeys is good news for a species in decline.

THE ARRIVAL OF FOUR baby tiger quolls (Dasyurus maculatus) at the Conservation Ecology Centre at Cape Otway, Victoria, is a boon for the largest marsupial predator in Australia.

The litter of four joeys, now three months old, will play will help researchers with conservation of the species, listed as ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN’s Red List of threatened species, says the Centre’s CEO Lizzie Corke. 

“These joeys will grow up to play an important role in conservation of their species, contributing to the genetic diversity of the Australian captive population, providing scats for training the detection dog team (Otways Conservation Dogs) and  teaching us about quoll behaviour,” says Lizzie.

The centre’s Tiger Quoll Conservation Program was initially established in response to severely declining tiger quoll numbers along south-east Australia; there is thought to be just 50 per cent of their former range left through Victoria since European settlement.

Wild tiger quolls were thought to have been wiped out in the Otways area in the early 2000s, until the recent discovery of scats around Lorne and Cape Otway.

One of the new tiger quoll joeys born at the Conservation Ecology Centre in the Otways.
(Credit: CEC)

Tiger quoll babies boost the species

“As the first joeys born from our breeding program these four are particularly special and observing the joeys growing from tiny little neonates not much bigger than a grain of rice to playful youngsters has been a privilege,” says Lizzie.

The joeys are an “insurance policy” for the continuation of the tiger quoll species, Lizzie says. That’s because the quolls will become part of the Australian tiger quoll breeding network and will be used to lift species numbers.

Tiger quoll behaviour and their influences on the environment will also be studied to assist staff at the Centre in refining wild quoll detection techniques – such as training dogs to sniff out quoll scats. Habitat restoration and fox reduction projects are also on the agenda.