One of Australia’s smallest marsupial species will be reintroduced to Dirk Hartog Island National Park for the first time since it went extinct from the area centuries ago.
Twenty-four endangered Dibbler joeys born at Perth Zoo, along with three adults, will be released to the island on October 7 by staff from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA).
Before their release, the carnivorous marsupials will be microchipped and genetic samples will be collected. A dozen of the young Dibblers will be fitted with radio collars to allow researchers to track their movements following their release.
The tracking will allow the team to identify habitat preferences at the new location to help guide future releases and conservation efforts.
The joeys were bred from adult Dibbler collected from Jurien Bay islands earlier this year, some of whom were the descendants of animals previously bred at the Zoo and released to the wild.
Since 1997, more than 900 Dibblers have been bred and released at sites including Escape Island in Jurien Bay, Gunton Island near Esperance and mainland parks and reserves in south-west Western Australia.
The Dibbler was once found as far north as Shark Bay in WA, including Dirk Hartog Island. They are one of 10 native species lost from the area following European settlement and the introduction of sheep, goats and cats.
Dirk Hartog Island became the world's largest island to have cats, sheep and goats fully eradicated last year.
Comments attributed to WA Environment Minister, Stephen Dawson:
“The Dirk Hartog Island release will establish a new Zoo-born population of this endangered species helping to return the habitat to what it once was in 1616.”
“Dibblers may be small, but these carnivorous marsupials play a very big role in the ecosystem, they are both predator and prey, and also pollinators in their habitat.”
“Thanks to the collaborative efforts from DBCA to save this endangered species, more than 900 Perth Zoo bred Dibblers have been released to the wild and new populations have been established.”