AGAINST all the odds, a little Aussie digger is surviving in some parts of Perth’s ever-expanding suburban sprawl.
The result of a large-scale citizen science survey shows that Perth’s population of quendas – or southern brown bandicoots – is clinging on in some suburbs despite the loss of much of its bushland habitat across the city.
Quendas are native Australian digging mammals that play an important role in the health of bushland by improving soil aeration, aiding water penetration, dispersing beneficial fungi and even helping to reduce fire fuel loads.
But urbanisation has seen numbers decline in some areas in recent years.
“This is an important species that, against all the odds, is finding ways to hang on in Perth’s outer suburbs,” said WWF-Australia spokesperson Katherine Howard.
“Quendas really are little Aussie battlers but they need our help if they are to survive.”
WWF-Australia and the Western Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife today released the results of their Community Quenda Survey, which has attracted nearly a thousand participants since it began in 2012.
It showed that in the more urbanised suburbs of Perth, particularly north of the river, quendas have either been gone for a long time or have declined since a similar survey was conducted by Parks and Wildlife in the early 1990s.
However, large numbers of quendas were reported in some suburbs of the Perth Hills, in particular Roleystone, Mundaring, Kalamunda and Gooseberry Hill. These suburbs are in local government areas where large areas of natural bushland have been retained.
“While quendas have declined in heavily urbanised parts of Perth, what the survey indicates is that they can survive and even thrive in the suburbs as long as they have access to large, connected areas of native bushland,” Ms Howard said.
The survey also collected data on threats to the quenda.
“Unsurprisingly, habitat destruction for urban development is having a major impact on quendas, as are vehicle strikes and attacks from cats, dogs and foxes,” said Parks and Wildlife ecologist Dr Geoff Barratt.
“We were surprised to discover that swimming pools and ponds can be a big problem for quendas, with many people reporting drowning incidents,” he said.
“But given southern brown bandicoots have practically disappeared from other large cities such as Melbourne and Sydney, it is remarkable that they are still surviving in parts of the Perth metropolitan area.”
Ms Howard added: “We now have an opportunity to prevent the kind of local extinctions we’ve seen in other cities from happening in Perth, through smarter, denser urban planning that protects natural bushland and wetlands.
The positive response to the survey shows that West Australians have a great deal of affection for the little Aussie diggers.
“It was like we opened a floodgate for people who had been waiting for the chance to talk about their favourite family of quendas. We’re continuing to receive quenda sighting reports almost every week,” Ms Howard said.
“Everyone can help provide a safe home for wildlife in our suburbs by maintaining and planting native vegetation, keeping their eyes peeled for animals crossing roads, keeping their cats indoors and walking their dogs on leads, especially near bushland or wetland sites.”
Ryan Fritz started The Advocate in 2014 to provide not-for-profits and charities another media platform to tell their worthwhile hard news stories and opinion pieces effortlessly. In 2020, Ryan formed a team of volunteer journalists to help spread even more high-quality stories from the third sector. He also has over 10 years experience as a media and communications professional for not-for-profits and charities and currently works at Redkite, a childhood cancer charity.