HALLS GAP - After 141 years of eluding the public eye a Tiger Quoll has been captured on remote digital camera in the Grampians National Park.
The animal was inadvertently caught on cameras set up to monitor the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby population a fortnight ago. Grampians National Park Ranger Ryan Duffy said the find means a lot to conservationists and ensures that another significant value remains protected.
"To find the native carnivorous marsupial, the largest living on the mainland which sits at the top of the food chain is a good indication of the landscape and shows its resilience," he said.
Mr Duffy said over the years people have passed on reports and sightings of the creature but it is the first known sighting since the nineteenth century.
"Two years ago we found a skull in a remote cave and that was identified as belonging to a Quoll, but we still didn't have any firm evidence of its survival until we captured the image on the remote camera."
Mr Duffy said more remote cameras will be located near-by to try and redetect if it is just the single male or if any others are roaming the area. He said a conversation will now begin about how best to monitor the animal which has proven it can continue to exist, albeit inconspicuously.
"The big factor is whether there are more out there and if so, where it is we need to look to find them across what is such a big and rugged landscape."
Mr Duffy said the fact the Quoll can persist even in the face of introduced predators and food chain competitors like the fox in such a changeable environment shows it is a survivor.
The Tiger Quoll, also known as the Spotted-tail Quoll, is a carnivorous marsupial native to Australia and depends on large intact landscape like the Grampians.
Parks Victoria's Manager of the Grampians Ark fox control program, Ben Holmes said it was no mistake the animal in the vision is a Quoll.
"I honestly couldn't believe my eyes when the photos were sent through from our field crew. There is no mistaking the spotted body colour, which can only be a quoll."
The sighting is the first confirmed live record of a Tiger Quoll in the Grampians National Park since 1872, after an animal was killed at the headwaters of the Glenelg River.
Grampians National Park Ranger in Charge Dave Roberts said it was an exciting find for staff who had worked on conservation programs in the Grampians over the years.
"We have been undertaking extensive fire management, fox control and other conservation works for decades and this sighting adds to our knowledge and importance of our work to conserve these species," said Mr Roberts.
"Having a native predator in the system is a great sign that the park is supporting a healthy functioning ecosystem."
Tiger Quolls are endangered in Victoria with the south-east Australian population endangered nationally and is listed as 'near threatened' on the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list. Parks Victoria will now refine camera monitoring techniques to hopefully build a better picture of how widespread the population is across the Grampians National Park, following several unconfirmed sightings over the years.
Parks Victoria Chief Executive Dr Bill Jackson said the rediscovery after such a long time highlights the critical role parks play in conserving Victoria's unique biodiversity.
"Victoria's parks conserve examples of more than 80 percent of Victoria's plants and animals and this rediscovery confirms the Grampians National Park as a stronghold for biodiversity conservation," he said.