Zoos SA

Search for the critically endangered Kangaroo Island dunnart leads to hope!

Exciting news from Kangaroo Island where conservation teams have discovered a female dunnart with jelly-bean sized babies. The successful capture was made on the first night of trapping which took the team completely by surprise.

The female Kangaroo Island dunnart with pouch young was trapped again the following week and her babies had doubled in size, indicating she and her babies were thriving.

Conservation charity Zoos SA and partners at the Kangaroo Island Landscape Board recently trapped Kangaroo Island dunnarts on the western end of the island to discover more about where they live and what they need to survive. Kangaroo Island dunnarts lost around 96% of their habitat when it was burnt in the devastating bushfires of 2019-20.

“The discovery of just one Kangaroo Island dunnart in this area is exciting enough, but for it to have pouch young is the best news. It gives us real hope that this critically endangered species has survived in this area despite the odds, and that we are in a position to help its recovery after the fires,” said Dr Liberty Olds, Conservation Manager at Zoos SA.

“Our plan is to carry on working with our partners, the Kangaroo Island Landscape Board and the Department for Environment and Water, to protect Kangaroo Island dunnarts and help the species recover from the bushfires. Watch this space as we hope to have more information to share on the monitoring and tracking of dunnarts found elsewhere on the island. All the information we gather from this discovery and others will be incredibly important in helping the conservation of the species,” said Liberty.

“The area had been identified by the Kangaroo Island Landscape Board, who have been monitoring the area with cameras since the bushfires, so we knew trapping there would give us the best chance of capturing Kangaroo Island dunnarts to learn more about this poorly understood species” said Paul Jennings, KI Dunnart Recovery Project Manager at the Kangaroo Island Landscape Board.

“Only around 30 Kangaroo Island dunnarts have ever been caught across the entire island. Nearly all of these were before the bushfires and none had babies, so to capture this mother now after the devastation is highly significant,” finished Paul.

Since the 2019-20 bushfires the Kangaroo Island Landscape Board and Department for Environment and Water have detected the dunnarts at nearly 70 sites in conservation areas and on private properties on the western end of the island.

Zoos SA received funding through the Australian Government’s Environment Restoration Fund to research the Kangaroo Island dunnart. The Kangaroo Island Landscape Board received funding through the Australian Government’s Environment Restoration Fund and Bushfire recovery package for wildlife and their habitat.

What is a Kangaroo Island dunnart?

  • A carnivorous marsupial only found on Kangaroo Island in South Australia.
  • The Kangaroo Island dunnart is listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
  • Scientists believe that Kangaroo Island dunnarts feed on spiders, ants, beetles, scorpions, centipedes and grasshoppers.
  • Male Kangaroo Island dunnarts probably live for one to two years, while females can live for between three and five years.
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About Zoos SA

Zoos SA is a not-for-profit conservation charity that exists to connect people with nature and save species from extinction. Zoos SA acknowledges the Country on which we stand always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land and we pay our deepest respect and gratitude to Kaurna (Adelaide Zoo) and Ngarrindjeri (Monarto Safari Park) Elders, past, present and emerging. We undertake critical conservation work throughout Australia and acknowledge the traditional custodians of these lands.

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