Eurardy Reserve captures first local image of rare chuditch thought to have travelled nearly 30km
A chuditch spotted far from home has created excitement among conservationists, with the sighting marking the first time the species has been seen at a reserve near Kalbarri.
Not-for-profit Bush Heritage Australia has operated the Eurardy Reserve since 2005 and captured its first image of a chuditch — the Noongar word for the western quoll — in December.
Reserve manager Sam Fischer only found the photograph two weeks ago while trawling through hundreds of camera-trap images.
Mr Fischer said the chuditch was thought to have travelled from Kalbarri National Park, almost 30km from the reserve.
“This particular camera is located on Eurardy’s eastern boundary, which means the quoll had likely travelled at least 27km from the translocated population in the gorges of Kalbarri National Park, passing through Eurardy, and survived crossing the Great Northern Highway,” he said.
“Young male chuditch are known to travel significant distances as they disperse to find their own territories, usually around November.
“As this photograph was recorded in December, our thinking is that this individual was a young male doing just this.”
Mr Fischer said the existence of a self-sustaining population of chuditch on Eurardy was unlikely at present, but numbers could grow in the future.
“The western quoll may one day return home to Eurardy,” he said.
“The reserve already provides complex habitat in its old-growth York gum woodland and will provide even more suitable habitat into the future through its restoration project which aims to plant one million trees, plants and shrubs over the next 10 years.”
“Eurardy is ideally situated between Kalbarri National Park, an existing chuditch home, and Toolanga Nature Reserve. This is no accident, but highlights the value of Bush Heritage’s prioritisation of connectedness when purchasing land.”
The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions successfully translocated 50 chuditch from Perth Zoo to Kalbarri National Park about 20 years ago.
“Chuditch thrive in habitat that's complex, with ample hollowed logs, rocky crevices, and burrows allowing them to hide from introduced predators like feral cats and foxes,” he said.
Chuditch are also found in the forests and woodlands in the State’s South West and the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park in South Australia.
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