The eleven-month-old numbat joeys were bred as part of a breeding program undertaken at Perth Zoo as part of DBCA’s Biodiversity and Conservation Science program.
Next week, seven of the numbats will be released at the Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s (AWC) Mt Gibson Sanctuary, in WA’s mid-west. It is the second largest feral predator free area in the country.
The other eight joeys will go to Dryandra Woodland and four will be placed within a 1000 hectare fenced reserve.
Supervisor of the Native Species Breeding Program, Cathy Lambert, said: “After all the hard work caring for them at the Zoo it is very exciting to see the breeding program’s ultimate goal come to fruition, boosting their wild population.”
“There are estimated to be fewer than 1000 of these bushy-tailed marsupials remaining in the wild and we have bred and released 244 of them.”
In the wild numbats are threatened by habitat loss and feral predators.
DBCA undertakes threat management and recovery actions to ensure persistence of populations in the wild. Breeding of animals at Perth Zoo provides additional capacity to manage populations in the wild and in fenced enclosures.
The Numbat breeding program was established in 1987 to study and perfect the species’ reproductive biology over the next five years. The first successful breeding at Perth Zoo was in 1993.
“It is particularly exciting to release them at Mt Gibson Sanctuary because Perth Zoo fundraising helped build the predator-proof fence, which is key to the survival of the Numbat,” Cathy said.
In preparation for their life in the wild, today the numbats were fitted with radio collars by DBCA principal research scientist Dr Tony Friend, assisted by AWC staff.
Wildlife supporters, Project Numbat, provided the radio collars to track the released animals.
“Tracking enables researchers to learn more about the Numbats’ movements and enables field staff to determine if females have reproduced at the completion of the mating season,” Dr Friend said.
“Many of the numbats released in previous years have gone on to have offspring, so we hope this year’s recruits follow the same footsteps.”
The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions is committed to native species conservation in the wild and through captive breeding when required. Endangered Dibblers and critically endangered Western Swamp Tortoises are also being bred for release, along with a head-start program for two species of rare frogs endemic to Margaret River.