Second Stage Saving the Kangaroo Island Dunnart from extinction Kangaroo Island, South Australia
The Kangaroo Island Dunnart is a small a dark sooty-grey coloured dunnart species that is found only on Kangaroo Island. They are nocturnal and their diet consists of invertebrates, mainly ants and spiders, however scorpions, beetles, and grasshoppers are also eaten.
The current population size is hard to determine due to the elusive habits of the species and the best estimate is 300 individuals.
Kangaroo Island Dunnart is endemic to Kangaroo Island, South Australia. With approx 300 individuals remaining they are one of Australia’s most endangered species.
This project will help save the Kangaroo Island Dunnart from extinction by controlling feral cats, establishing an refuge behind predator-proof fencing and surveying and monitoring of the populations.
Stage one of this project found 39 Dunnart sightings across four sites on Kangaroo Island.
This project will make a very significant contribution to preventing the extinction of the Kangaroo Island Dunnart.
The Kangaroo Island Dunnart threatened with extinction with feral cats being identified as a significant threatening process.
With your support we will control feral cats at all known Kangaroo Island Dunnart sites within private Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife properties.
We will also undertake long term monitoring using camera trap surveys. We will support capture, mark, recapture surveys using pitfall trapping, and radio telemetry to confirm population estimates and home ranges. This will help justify future translocation of animals and extend surveys for the species across western Kangaroo Island and into southern and eastern Kangaroo Island.
We will also engage new private property landholders in threat reduction activities for the Kangaroo Island Dunnart and collateral beneficiaries (Southern brown bandicoot, Bassian thrush, Southern emu-wren, Kangaroo Island Echidna, Rosenberg’s Goanna, Twining Hand Flower, Downy Star Bush and the yellow Bush Pea).
We will construct a predator proof fence around a protected reserve to protect the Kangaroo Island Dunnart and collateral beneficiaries. The project will monitor the threatened species inside and outside the reserve, eradicate feral cats and pigs from inside and outside the reserve and establish a feral cat-controlled buffer zone to protect Kangaroo Island Dunnarts that move in and out of the reserve. The project will engage private landholders in all monitoring and control activities for long term successful management.
The project will;
- Improve Kangaroo Island Dunnart understanding and knowledge (home range sizes, movements, shelter sites, population dynamics, sex ratios, longevity of individuals, breeding conditions and habitat preferences) to support conservation decisions by 2021.
- By continuing Kangaroo Island Dunnart population monitoring at five key sites
- Extending Kangaroo Island Dunnart surveys across new properties (Survey methods: camera trapping, capture, mark & release, radio tracking).
- Allowing for continued community engagement and education in threatened species conservation.
- Reduce the estimated feral cat numbers by at least 80% within Kangaroo Island Dunnart habitat and maintain control activities by 2021.
- By implementing feral cat control at the property level across known Kangaroo Island Dunnart habitat with the use of detector dogs, cage trapping, spot light shooting and felixers.
- Establish a protected (fenced) reserve for the Kangaroo Island Dunnart and collateral beneficiaries that is free from feral cats and other threats by 2021.
- By engaging private landholders in all monitoring and control activities for long term success
- Maintaining a monitoring program for the threatened species inside and outside the reserve and collect life history, reproductive biology and breeding information for improved understanding
- Maintaining a feral cat and pig eradication program within the reserve and establish a control program with private landholders around a buffer zone.
This project will also assist the Southern Brown Bandicoot, Rosenberg’s Goanna, Kangaroo Island Echidna, Southern Emu-Wren and Bassian Thrush through controlling predators and supporting landholders in managing private bushland habitat.
Urgency and Action:
We urgently need to reduce the numbers of feral cats on Kangaroo Island. Scientists have given the Kangaroo Island Dunnart a 22% chance of becoming extinct in the next 20 years unless action is taken to address threats. Implementation of this project may be the difference in the survival or extinction of the Kangaroo Island Dunnart.
The nonprofit organisation Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife Association Incorporated will implement this project. They have a vison that by 2021, in partnership with private Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife landholders, they will manage 50,000 hectares of private lands for Kangaroo Island Dunnart conservation, with a longer-term vision to down grade the Kangaroo Island Dunnart EPBC Act and South Australian State listing from Endangered to Vulnerable by 2029.
This project follow an earlier collaboration between FAME and Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife Association Incorporated on the successful Finding the Kangaroo Island Dunnart project.
Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife Association Incorporated will involve Natural Resources Kangaroo Island, Kangaroo Island Community Education, Kangaroo Island Land for Wildlife Program and the South Australian Sporting Shooters Association in supporting the outcomes of this project. The South Australian Sporting Shooters Association to undertake regular feral cat control across private properties.
Images supplied by Jody Gates at the South Australian Department of Environment, Water, and Natural Resources.