Hope for rare marsupial on new island home
Twenty-nine Dibblers have been released on a remote island off the State’s south coast as part of a project to establish a new population of the endangered carnivorous marsupial.
Environment Minister Albert Jacob said the 28 Perth Zoo-bred Dibblers and one wild-born dibbler were flown to Esperance last weekend before being transported by boat to 95-hectare Gunton Island in the Recherche Archipelago.
“This is a significant step forward in growing the number of dibblers in the wild,” Mr Jacob said. “Gunton Island is free of feral predators and has the right type of habitat to support the species.
“There are five established populations of Dibblers elsewhere in Western Australia, of which four consist of less than 50 animals each. We are in the early stages of establishing a further two populations and creating another safe haven for this species is vitally important for its long-term survival.”
Up to 150 captive-bred Dibblers are planned to be released on Gunton Island over the next two years as part of a collaborative project between Parks and Wildlife and Perth Zoo with funding support from South Coast NRM. The released Dibblers are monitored by Parks and Wildlife.
At the time of European settlement, Dibblers were only known to exist in western and southern coastal regions of the State. The species was believed to be extinct until it was rediscovered at Cheyne Beach, east of Albany, in 1967.
“Dibblers have declined from their original range largely due to predation by cats and foxes and reduction and degradation of habitat,” Mr Jacob said.
“We are working hard to protect the wild populations in Fitzgerald River National Park on the south coast and on offshore islands near Jurien Bay as well as the other populations we have established.”
Conservation of Dibblers is supported by extensive baiting for foxes and feral cats under the wildlife recovery program Western Shield. The State Government is implementing feral cat baiting using the Eradicat® bait, which is supported by $1.7 million in Australian Government funding.
- The Dibbler is listed as ‘Fauna that is likely to become extinct or is rare’ under the Western Australian Wildlife Conservation Act, and Endangered under the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
- Dibbler populations have been established at Fitzgerald River National Park; Boullanger Whitlock and Escape Islands at Jurien Bay; and the proposed Peniup nature reserve west of Bremer Bay.
- Other populations are being established at Waychinicup National Park east of Albany and Whiteman Park in Perth’s north east.