Staff and students from The University of Western Australia's School of Animal Biology have made a rare sighting of the threatened chuditch, or western quoll, in Perth's southern suburbs, confirming their presence on the Swan Coastal Plain.
Dr Brian Chambers, PhD students Valentina Mella and Paul Chachelle and Associate Professor Roberta Bencini, with the help of undergraduate students and volunteers from The Friends of Paganoni Swamp, were trapping in the Paganoni Swamp Reserve in Karnup as part of a project funded by Main Roads WA.
The chuditch was captured between Rockingham and Mandurah and tagged to study the effectiveness of the Perth to Bunbury Highway fauna underpasses. It was released unharmed after being measured and microchipped for identification.
The week-long trapping effort also resulted in the capture of several brushtail possums and quenda, or southern brown bandicoots and a brush-tailed phascogale, which is also listed as threatened in Western Australia.
"It is very exciting to be able to confirm the presence of two threatened mammal species in Paganoni Swamp Reserve," Dr Chambers said.
"It demonstrates the incredible value that reserves, such as this one, have in conserving native fauna on the Swan Coastal Plain.
"We are hopeful that there are more chuditch in the area and further trapping planned for later this year will hopefully result in more individuals being discovered," Dr Chambers said.
All of the native mammals captured were microchipped before being released. Microchip scanners will reveal if the animals use the underpasses.
"The overall aim of our research is to find the best ways of constructing and managing these fauna underpasses to improve the ability of native animals to move about the landscape," Dr Chambers said.
The only other recorded sighting of a chuditch on the Swan Coastal Plain in the last 20 years was in Wandi in April 2009, when the animal had to be euthanised after being snared in a rabbit trap.
Picture courtesy of Davide Santoro.