Our 5-year Northern Quoll Monitoring Program, conducted in conjunction with the Mount Emerald Wind Farm (MEWF) energy project, has successfully concluded its final round of surveys. The primary aim of this initiative was to monitor and assess the potential impacts of the wind farm development on the endangered Northern quoll. The study encompassed estimates of population size, site occupancy, individual quoll trends, and habitat assessments, and was conducted both post-construction and during ongoing wind farm operations. The results will gain insights that will guide future conservation efforts for this endangered species.
The Northern quoll, Australia’s smallest quoll, faces significant threats such as habitat loss, predation by feral cats, and cane toad poisoning, contributing to a significant decline in their distribution. Today, these nocturnal predators are present in limited localised pockets, making monitoring of existing ranges increasingly important. By comparing the Mount Emerald quoll population to control sites in the region, including Brooklyn Wildlife Sanctuary, Davies Creek, and Walsh River, the study extends beyond the impact site, yielding crucial data on the health of the Mount Emerald quoll population and its habitat whilst providing insights into multiple Atherton Tableland populations.
The research methodology involved deploying camera traps arranged in a grid to estimate quoll numbers within the study area. Following each round of camera deployment, our team meticulously examined the imagery, utilising the distinctive spot patterns—akin to fingerprints—exhibited by Northern quolls for individual identification. This approach ensures accurate data collection on population size, distribution, and ecology for populations, which, in turn, contributes to well-informed management decisions and successful conservation efforts.
As we navigate the delicate balance between ecological preservation and responsible development, the insights gained from wildlife monitoring programs become the beacon guiding our commitment to a sustainable future. The final round of surveys not only marks the end of this program but also signifies the beginning of a new chapter in our ongoing efforts to protect and conserve the Northern quoll and its habitats Together, we step forward into a future where the harmonious coexistence of wildlife and renewable energy practices is not just a vision but a shared responsibility we embrace.