WA's Woylie Survival

In Our Hands

  • YEAR: 2013
  • STATE: Western Australia
  • FOCUS AREAS: Saving Species/SDG 15: Life on Land

Woylies (aka Brush-tailed Bettongs) are very unique Australian native marsupials. They play an important role in the environment as nature’s gardeners.

Unfortunately, since the 1990s, woylie numbers have decreased by over 90%. It was suggested that stress may be making the woylies more vulnerable to parasite infections so with help from FNPW, Stephanie Hing from Murdoch Univeristy, set about investigating possible links between stress, immunity and infection in woylies for her PhD.

FNPW support

This project was funded through generous donations from FNPW supporters across Australia and beyond.

Project overview

In collaboration with the Western Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife, nongovernment organisations (Whiteman Park Reserve, Native Animal Rescue) and volunteers, they completed approximately two years of intensive fieldwork involving captive, free-ranging and wild woylie populations at rehabilitation facilities, in reserves, national parks and state forests.

The trapping efforts were successful with a total of over 300 individual woylies trapped, examined and sampled over the course of the study.

The study was expanded to include more individuals, samples and sites as the project progressed. In addition, they built capacity, training students and volunteers in wildlife field research skills.

This project involved a few exciting “firsts”. The first study of how well woylies’ immune system works, the first long-term study of what factors influence stress hormones in woylies and the first time looked at how woylies’ respond to conservation activities like moving them from one place to another and also natural disasters like bushfires.

When gathering material to build their dome shaped nest, Woylies carry it curled up in their prehensile tail. This leaves their hands free for snacks they find on their way back to the nest site such as underground fungi or truffles!

Thanks to support from colleagues, collaborators and generous supporters of FNPW, they’ve provided unique and important information to help the conservation of critically endangered.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY

FNPW supports projects across Australia. In the spirit of reconciliation the we acknowledge the Traditional Owners of Country and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture.

PROGRESS OF THIS PROJECT

The project was completed in 2014.

This project was funded by FNPW in 2013.

PROJECT PARTNERS

Western Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife is the lead organisation for this project.

Further information about our project partner can be found on their website:

www.dpaw.wa.gov.au

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