Count­ing on our quenda

Fremantle Gazette - - NEWS - Jon Bas­sett

THERE is an un­known and pos­si­bly grow­ing num­ber of quenda hid­den in Kings Park but one in­trigu­ing fact known about the group is their his­toric tie to the Beel­iar Wet­lands.

Quenda were first dis­cov­ered in Kings Park in 2012 and have been spot­ted where there is sig­nif­i­cant veg­e­ta­tion, in­clud­ing the WA Botanic Gar­den.

Kings Park bush­land man­ager Ryan Glowacki said a 2015 ex­ter­nal re­search pro­gram found the seven quenda sam­pled there were closely re­lated.

“Fur­ther anal­y­sis has shown the seven quenda orig­i­nated from the Beel­iar Wet­lands Sys­tem and there­fore must have been unau­tho­rised in­tro­duc­tions,” he said.

Cam­eras con­tinue to mon­i­tor their progress across the 1100ha of banksia wood­land. Univer­sity of Ade­laide quenda re­search su­per­vi­sor Sean Tom­lin­son said the park’s pop­u­la­tion were lucky sur­vivors be­cause re­lo­cat­ing a na­tive species was an in­volved process re­quir­ing in-depth as­sess­ments to get their right num­ber and sub­se­quent sci­en­tific mon­i­tor­ing.

“When you think about it like that, it’s a real sur­prise

that the quenda in Kings Park sur­vived and ap­pear to be thriv­ing,” he said.

“They don’t much like the park’s lawns and tend to avoid those, but they re­ally like the dense thick­ets of par­rot­bush, prob­a­bly be­cause it’s spiky and hor­ri­ble and noth­ing sen­si­ble would go in there look­ing for a quenda ex­cept a des­per­ate

re­search sci­en­tist.”

To sup­port these find­ings and on­go­ing re­search, vol­un­teers are needed to be part of World Wide Fund for Na­ture Aus­tralia’s eighth an­nual Spring Quenda Count to de­ter­mine the mar­su­pial’s health, pop­u­la­tion and range across Perth. Count co-or­di­na­tor Rochelle Steven said about 350 peo­ple

at nearly 370 sites were be­ing tasked with find­ing where pop­u­la­tions of quenda were liv­ing in com­par­i­son to pre­vi­ous sur­veys, and de­ter­min­ing changes to their ranges and num­bers in parks, gar­dens and the bush.

“The par­tic­i­pa­tion of fam­i­lies in the sub­urbs is crit­i­cal to get an in­sight into the sta­tus of quenda on pri­vate land,” Dr Steven said.

Dr Tom­lin­son said the an­nual count would be use­ful to ver­ify re­ports of quenda “fos­sick­ing” in peo­ple’s gar­dens. To join the count, email quenda@ wwf.org.au.

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie

Count co-or­di­na­tor Rochelle Steven in­ves­ti­gates quenda habi­tat in Kings Park.

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