Rangelands NRM Blog, News & Resources

Endangered Pilbara quolls spotted during weed control work

[May-June 2016]

Motion sensor cameras set up along the Fortescue River in the Pilbara have been successful at detecting the presence of the threatened Northern Quoll.

The Northern Quoll is a threatened species that utilises complex habitats through the Pilbara landscape including the habitats along the Fortescue River.

The cameras were installed by the Pilbara Mesquite Management Committee (PMMC) as part of their work to battle the thorny Parkinsonia (Parkinsonia aculelata), a Weed of National Significance,

The PMMC is partially funded by Rangelands NRM to control weeds through the Pilbara Landscape across tenure boundaries and with multiple stakeholders. They work with several stakeholders (including mining companies, station managers and contractors) to control weeds along the different sections of the Fortescue River.

One of the current projects is focusing on weed control in the habitats along the Fortescue River. This includes on-ground weed control at Roy Hill Station in the upper reaches of the river catchment and at Yalleen and Mardie Stations in the lower Fortescue catchment.

PMMC Project Manager Jo Kuiper said Parkinsonia can alter the condition of habitats that support threatened species such as the Northern Quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus).

“This weed can out-compete many native vegetation species, forms dense mono-culture stands and invades through our river systems,” she said.

The PMMC set out motion sensor cameras along in areas where Parkinsonia currently occurs in low densities and the habitats is highly suitable for the Quoll along the Fortescue River at Mardie Station.

Northern Quolls were recorded at several locations along the river as were several other fauna species such as Rothschild Rock Wallabies, Goannas and the Common Rock Rat.

Ms Kuiper said results of this survey have been added to the database (NatureMap) managed by Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) and as such contributes to the knowledge about the species in the region.

The Marduthuni Ranger team are currently engaged by PMMC to conduct Parkinsonia control in this section of the river.

The team will work through 15 kilometres of the river area and search and treat individual Parkinsonia plants that currently are scattered through the habitat in order to control the weed before the infestation gets out of hand.

Ms Kuiper said the Marduthuni team have recently undertaken training with the Pilbara TAFE Institute and are ready to tackle the Parkinsonia along the lower Fortescue.

Additionally, the PMMC works closely with Mardie Station Management to ensure on-going monitoring of weeds to prioritise on-ground action and this includes the Fortescue River and the Northern Quoll habitats.

The work of the Marduthuni Rangers at Mardie station has been implemented after many years of consistent , extensive Parkinsonia control efforts further up-stream along the Fortescue River by multiple groups; Rio Tinto has funded Parkinsonia control at Yalleen Station for three consecutive years and further still up-stream the Ngurrawaana Rangers have been battling the thorny menace in their land.

“This landscape-scale control of Parkinsonia helps protect the habitats along the Fortescue River far beyond boundaries of each property and represents a fantastic commitment by all of groups that are involved,” Ms Kuiper said.

Image: (L) Jo Kuiper installs a motion sensor camera.
(R) A quoll is captured on camera