The juvenile Numbats will be released into Dryandra Woodland, a nature reserve two hours from Perth. The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) managed site includes a 1000-hectare predator proof fenced area containing an insurance population of Numbats and other endangered species.
Perth Zookeeper, Karen Cavanough, said: “The release of the Numbats to the wild is the culmination of a lot of hard work, but it is our ultimate goal.”
“We are the only zoo in the world which breeds numbats, so it is an incredibly important breeding program and work we are very proud of.”
The Numbat breeding program was established at Perth Zoo in 1987, with zoologists studying and perfecting the species’ reproductive performance and management over the next five years. The first successful breeding was in 1992. Since then, in collaboration with DBCA scientists, more than 268 individuals have been released to the wild which has re-established four populations of Numbats within their former range.
Today the 10 Numbats at the Zoo were fitted with radio collars by DBCA Research Associate Dr Tony Friend.
“The Peel-Harvey Catchment Council provided the funding for the radio collars which allows us to keep track of the progress of the released Numbats,” Dr Friend said.
“Field staff have been able to follow survival and breeding activity, and many of the Numbats released in previous years have gone on to have offspring, so we hope this year’s recruits have the same success.”
The Numbat is Western Australia’s fauna emblem and is listed as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Approximately 1000 Numbats remain in the wild.
They are one of six native species bred or reared at the Zoo as part of collaborative efforts within DBCA to help save wildlife.