Finding the elusive, endangered Kangaroo Island Dunnarts

Finding the elusive, endangered Kangaroo Island Dunnarts

March 13, 2018

The Adelaide-based, national not-for-profit Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered Species (FAME) were pleased to announce today through their seed funding grants, a monetary grant to the non-government biodiversity conservation program, ‘Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife’ and its dedicated team to survey private properties across the island to find and analyse population numbers of the elusive Kangaroo Island Dunnart.

The Kangaroo Island Dunnart (Sminthopsis aitkeni) is a flagship species on the island and is one of the 20 mammal species identified for priority action in the Australian Government’s Threatened Species Strategy.

The Kangaroo Island Dunnart is only known from a total of 35 records, all of which have been found within Flinders Chase National Park and the Ravine des Casoars Wilderness Protection Area. The Kangaroo Island Dunnart’s current distribution and population on the Island is unknown and difficult to estimate. The Kangaroo Island Dunnart is listed as ‘Endangered’ under both the EPBC Act 1999 and South Australian National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972.

FAME CEO, Tracy McNamara, says the Foundation is excited to fund the project. “Before we even look at building a population of these endangered species, it is vital we ascertain numbers on the Island. Once the survey is complete, we are able to use these numbers as our baseline.”

Pat Hodgens from the Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife program said that it is highly likely that the Kangaroo Island Dunnart exists on privately owned land, however very little survey effort has occurred on this land tenure.

“The Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife program provides us with an opportunity to work with landholders to survey their private properties for the endangered Dunnart and other threatened species.

Mr Hodgens said that the 2018 surveys will help gain a better understanding of the species distribution and population, help with planning future conservation activities, and protect the Dunnart and its habitat for the long term.

Kangaroo Island Dunnart surveys will initially include the use of wildlife cameras set in habitat appropriate locations, followed by pitfall and Elliot traps once the species is detected.”

Threats to the Kangaroo Island Dunnart’s survival include predation by feral cats, inappropriate fire regimes, impacts of Phytophthora cinnamomi, and habitat loss and fragmentation.

Once a baseline in confirmed, a further project will take place to assist with feral cat control activities, including cage trapping, detector dog use and spotlight shooting to reduce feral cat numbers within key Dunnart habitat.

“We hope the survey unveils strong numbers which in turn, will provide hope in saving the endangered Kangaroo Island Dunnarts from extinction,” Ms McNamara added.

Further information:

Tracy McNamara
CEO FAME: + 61 411 446 924

www.fame.org.au


Image courtesy Jody Gates