Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) has secured $115,000 in state government funding to assist with the reintroduction of the locally extinct and nationally threatened Red-tailed Phascogale to Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary in south-west NSW.
Over the next three years, the NSW Department of Planning and Environment’s NSW Environmental Trust will provide funding for the translocation of up to 150 of the small carnivorous marsupials to the sanctuary. The individuals will be sourced from a breeding program at Zoos SA. This breeding program was originally established in 2021 to provide animals for reintroduction to Mallee Cliffs National Park, also in NSW. The program will now be extended to provide a founding population of Red-tailed Phascogale for Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary, where they will be released into an 8,000-hectare feral predator-free area.
The significant reintroduction will help secure a much-needed second population of the species in western NSW – joining the population reintroduced to Mallee Cliffs National Park by AWC and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) in November 2021. Prior to this work the Red-tailed Phascogale had been extinct in the wild in NSW for more than a century. Establishing a second population at Scotia will promote the adaptive potential of the species by exposing individuals to more of the environmental conditions prevailing across its former range.
Dr Greg Holland, AWC Regional Ecologist, welcomed the awarding of the grant, saying funds will have a positive impact on the future of the threatened species.
“This funding is great news for the Red-tailed Phascogale which has disappeared from much of its range across western, central and southern Australia over the last 100 years,” Dr Holland said. “The state government’s contribution will enable us to continue the captive breeding program at Zoos SA to provide animals for release at Scotia. It will also help fund necessary equipment and teams of scientists to monitor animals after their release into the feral predator-free area.”
AWC anticipates that the reintroduction of the Red-tailed Phascogale to Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary will take place in the next 18 months, pending the success of the breeding program. Once released, the phascogales will join four other reintroduced mammal species at Scotia, including the Greater Bilby, Numbat, Bridled Nailtail Wallaby and Burrowing Bettong.
This project has been assisted by the NSW Government through its Environmental Trust.
The Red-tailed Phascogale is a small nocturnal, carnivorous marsupial with a distinctive reddish-brown tail which ends in a brush of long black hairs. The average bodyweight of a male is 60 grams, and 43 grams for a female. Although small, individuals are fast moving and can leap an impressive two meters between tree canopies, making them difficult to spot and track.
Red-tailed Phascogales have an interesting life history pattern with all males experiencing post-mating mortality – leaving them with a short lifespan of only 11.5 months while a female can live up to 36 months and produce two to three litters during her lifetime.
Predation by feral cats is considered the primary cause of decline of the species. Predation by foxes, habitat loss and fragmentation, and loss of suitable nesting hollows are also drivers of decline.
Learn more about the Red-tailed Phascogale here.
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