First baby quolls born in Australian wild in 50 years

SYDNEY, July 10 (Xinhua) -- Baby eastern quolls have been born on the Australian mainland for the first time in 50 years, following a successful breeding and reintroduction program, scientists said on Monday.

The species of small spotted marsupials were relegated to captivity on the island state of Tasmania, after being hunted to extinction in the wild by feral foxes.

Checks of three reintroduced female quolls have revealed a total of 15 new healthy babies proving that the joint venture by the World Wildlife Fund and Rewilding Australia is so far successful.

"It was a very exciting moment for the researchers to see what any reintroduction program wants to see after this amount of time," director of Rewilding Australia, Rob Brewster said.

After being bred in a wildlife park in Tasmania, 20 of the animals were reintroduced in March to the Booderee National Park in the Eastern state of New South Wales.

Experts at first were concerned that the program would not succeed after several of the animals were killed by road traffic or hunted by foxes.

However after adapting their strategy, the program found more success.

"We relocated those quolls to a part of the park away from sealed roads and that has been really effective at reducing mortalities," Brewster said.

Like all marsupials, when baby quolls are born they are very small and pink, resembling a bean, and they will live in the mother's pouch for up to 165 days.

The quolls were tracked using GPS collars and checks of the pouches of three females revealed that they were carrying five babies each.

Brewster said that the animals have to move long distances looking for food, so the high number of young helps to ensure that some will make it through to the next breeding season.

[ Editor: WPY ]
 

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