Animals rise from ashes

Research assistant professor Brian Chambers. Picture: Elle Borgward www.communitypix.com.au d408422
Research assistant professor Brian Chambers. Picture: Elle Borgward www.communitypix.com.au d408422

The population took a major hit following the devastating Easter 2009 bushfire that swept across the northern lake and since then Assistant Professor Brian Chambers has studied the animal for several years.

His recent trappings caught 46 individual quendas along with six mice and a feral cat.

‘The really nice thing that I’ve seen at this site over the last two years is the massive increase in the quenda population over my trapping grids,’ he said.

Asst Prof Chambers said over the past 20 months the population had grown from an estimated 12 individuals to 55.

‘In the first year after I started trapping, the population increased by 250 per cent, which is pretty impressive growth rate for a marsupial population,’ he said.

Quendas are under threat from habitat loss, feral animals and vehicles. Asst Prof Chambers said he had removed four feral cats from the area that would have helped the quenda numbers thrive.

‘My feeling about what is going on here is that I’ve been seeing the recovery of this population from the 2009 wildfire that burnt much of the vegetation on the western side of Lake Cooloongup and from the 2010 drought,’ he said.

‘Both of these events severely impact on the quenda population and so it’s great to see them recovering so well.’