If you've never seen or heard of a quoll, we don't blame you — after all, this tiny polka-dotted marsupial had been extinct in mainland Australia … until yesterday.
A team from the Australian National University (ANU) is leading the effort to introduce a new generation of quolls back to the mainland after a 50-year absence, transported from the Australian island state of Tasmania, where they've been residing. A group of eastern quolls was released to Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary, where they can safely start building up their numbers after their decades-long disappearance from the mainland.
"This is the first translocation of wild eastern quolls directly into a free ranging situation on the Australian mainland," Professor Adrian Manning from the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society said in a press release. Habitat loss, predators like foxes and cats, disease and interference by humans are some of the factors to blame for the decline of quolls, who were once abundant in southeastern Australia, according to the press release.
Quolls are crucial to the survival and function of ecosystems in Australia. Each newly released quoll will be fitted with a radio-tracking collar to monitor them and make certain they survive and flourish after the relocation effort.
"This is a long-term project," Manning said. "To be at the stage where we release quolls straight into the wild is rewarding for everyone involved because we are not only building on our science, but also leaving a legacy that can have an impact throughout Australia."
Watch the video of these cute little guys and gals leaping happily out of tiny bags as they're released back into their natural habitat below.