Perth Zoo numbats fitted with collars for breeding program

Principal research scientist Tony Friend fitting a radio collar on a numbat. Picture: Nadia Budihardjo
Principal research scientist Tony Friend fitting a radio collar on a numbat. Picture: Nadia Budihardjo

FIFTEEN numbats will be released into the wild as part of a breeding program after having radio collars fitted at Perth Zoo today.

The juvenile numbats were fitted with the collars to track their movements and reproduction after their release into the wild next week.

Native Species Breeding Program supervisor Cathy Lambert said the numbats would be released at the Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s Mt Gibson Sanctuary and Dryandra Woodland.

“We’ll keep them here at the zoo for six or seven days before release so we can make sure that they fit properly and there are no issues with the collars,” she said.

Ms Lambert said 244 numbats have been bred and released as part of the program.

“There’s probably less than a thousand out there at the moment,” she said.

“Our whole year’s work has come to this so that’s why we do what we do and being able to release animals and hopefully they’ll be able to contribute in the wild then increase the numbers.”

Principal research scientist Tony Friend said the numbats’ mating season were in late December to early January.

“One of the most important things is that the females breed and the young they have, we can check that by recapturing the animal in the wild,” he said.

“When the numbat was at its lowest, there were only two populations left, now there are 10 so it’s been successful.”

Dr Friend said the collars could last nearly a year with the new technology.

“They get better over the years, batteries have gotten smaller, technology has improved, electronics are smaller and they last longer,” he said.

“The collars will stay on them for most of their life.”

The numbat is diurnal, the only marsupial active by day.