Hopes high zoo numbats will thrive

Michael TraillNarrogin Observer
Mr Friend with one of the numbats about to be introduced into the wild.
Camera IconMr Friend with one of the numbats about to be introduced into the wild.

Numbat conservation efforts in Dryandra received a huge boost last Friday evening, when seven of the endangered mammals were released into the woodlands.

As part of Perth Zoo’s breeding program, three males and one female, were released into an unfenced area of Dryandra’s woodlands while two females and a male were released into a controlled, fenced area south east of Lions Village.

All seven were born at Perth Zoo earlier this year and wear GPS tracking collars to assist with research projects.

Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions principal research scientist Tony Friend has high hopes for the group, and suggested that if successful, the numbats released into the fenced area could one day start a breeding colony.

The numbats were placed into logs to help protect them against predators.
Camera IconThe numbats were placed into logs to help protect them against predators. Credit: Pictures: Michael Traill, Kaitlyn York.

“(The Perth Zoo breeding program) was set up partly due to the crash of numbat (numbers) here in 90s,” he said.

“There used to be enough numbers here in Dryandra that we could trap them and take them out to other areas.”

Mr Friend with one of the numbats about to be introduced into the wild.
Camera IconMr Friend with one of the numbats about to be introduced into the wild.

Dr Friend says that eight out of the 10 numbat populations in Australia were in WA.

Along with a group of volunteers, Dr Friend drove through Dryandra to find the suitable hollow logs he had already pre-marked that day. The numbats were carefully guided into their new temporary homes, safe from the eyes of birds of prey.

Kaitlyn York guiding a numbat into it’s new home.
Camera IconKaitlyn York guiding a numbat into it’s new home. Credit: Michael Traill

After adjusting to their new surroundings outside of captivity, the numbats are expected to carve out territories of their own in the wood-lands.

“They’re going to come out in the morning, wonder where they are and detect termites in the ground. They’ve got a lot of behaviours that they don’t have to learn,” he said.

“They’ll be feeding first-off and then I think probably they’ll run into another numbat and that means they’ll have to move on.

“They’ll eventually settle down. Within a month they’ll have their own home range.”

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