News from the Field

Possums and Malleefowl: Recent wildlife discoveries across Australia

23 Jun. 2022
Joey Clarke/AWC

Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) teams around the country have made some exciting discoveries recently, with a number of new wildlife records across our sanctuaries and partnership sites. A rare possum, a Malleefowl, and an unexpected little marsupial carnivore are among the latest detections made by AWC as part of Australia’s largest program of biodiversity surveys.

 

This Scaly-tailed Possum is the first ever caught by scientists in the Northern Territory. AWC ecologists carried out the targeted survey at Bullo River Station. Conor Nest/AWC
This Scaly-tailed Possum is the first ever caught by scientists in the Northern Territory. AWC ecologists carried out the targeted survey at Bullo River Station.

 

Scaly-tailed Possum caught at Bullo River Station

The Scaly-tailed Possum (sometimes called the Wyulda) is mostly known from the northern Kimberley, but an astounding photo from a camera trap in 2018 revealed that the species was also present at Bullo River Station. It was the first time it had been seen in the Northern Territory. To find out more about this population, an AWC team conducted targeted live-trapping efforts in April and May, which resulted in the first-ever known capture of this species outside of WA. Building a better understanding of Bullo River Station’s wildlife is an important aspect of this trailblazing partnership project.

 

A Malleefowl has been sighted at Dakalanta for the first time since AWC took on management of the sanctuary twenty years ago. Kim Wormald/AWC
A Malleefowl has been sighted at Dakalanta for the first time since AWC took on management of the sanctuary twenty years ago.

 

Malleefowl spotted at Dakalanta

As wintery weather swept through the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia earlier this month, a team of ecologists working on-site at Dakalanta made a remarkable sighting. While confirming the locations of Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat burrows, AWC intern Yas caught a glimpse of a Malleefowl, the first ever recorded at the sanctuary since AWC took on management twenty years ago. The site of an award winning revegetation project as part of Landcare Australia’s twenty million trees project, Dakalanta also protects significant stands of healthy mallee.

 

This Fat-tailed Pseudantechinus (a small marsupial carnivore) captured at Mornington represents the first record for the species in the Kimberley region. Larissa Potter/AWC
This Fat-tailed Pseudantechinus (a small marsupial carnivore) captured at Mornington represents the first record for the species in the Kimberley region.

 

Fat-tailed Pseudantechinus at Mornington

Meanwhile in the Kimberley, a surprising new record has extended the known range of a pint-sized predator, a carnivorous marsupial called the Fat-tailed Pseudantechinus. This species is found across rocky ranges of Central and Western Australia, but has never before been recorded so far north in WA. Rather than rocky ranges, the little mammal was found living among termite mounds in the flat tropical savanna. It is remarkable that even after 18 years of AWC survey work at Mornington, new species continue to be added to the inventory of species at the sanctuary. A scientific paper about the find was published this month in Australian Mammalogy.

 

Each of these discoveries highlights the importance of AWC’s expansive biodiversity survey program, which is painting a picture of the status of wildlife across our sanctuaries and partnership sites. AWC teams around the country conduct Australia’s largest biodiversity survey program, with over 250,000 trap nights every year.

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