Cheryl Edwardes

Cheryl Edwardes


    40 Dibblers to be released on to Escape Island in Jurien Bay

    7/10/1999 1:50 PM

    Forty Dibblers, bred at Perth Zoo, will be released by the Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM) on to Escape Island in Jurien Bay on Sunday, (October 10), under the wildlife recovery program Western Shield.

    Environment Minister Cheryl Edwardes said this latest introduction followed the successful release of 26 Dibblers there just a year ago.

    The Dibbler is a small, carnivorous marsupial, about twice the size of a house mouse. They have a thick hairy tail, distinctive white eye ring, are agile climbers that eat mostly invertebrates, small reptiles and nectar. The females have a small pouch, with eight nipples.

    Dibblers are listed as an endangered species. Currently the population is estimated at less than 1,000 animals.

    Mrs Edwardes said that during recent field monitoring by CALM scientists, seven Dibblers were trapped on the island and all were in good condition.

    “Closer examination revealed positive evidence that the animals, released last year, had successfully bred in the wild,” she said.

    "Once that initial release on to Escape Island proved successful, the Dibbler Recovery Team representing CALM, Perth Zoo, the Marsupial Co-operative Research Centre, UWA and the Jurien Bay community planned this second stage.

    “Twenty of the Dibblers being released this Sunday will be fitted with radio collars for post-release monitoring.

    "Dibblers do not appear to readily enter traps, so using radio collars allow their progress to be more closely and accurately monitored during their first three months of life in the wild."

    Staff of Perth Zoo's Native Species Breeding Program prepared the 40 Dibblers for wild survival by replicating their likely diet for some time before release.

    Dibblers were presumed to be extinct since 1904 and then were rediscovered in 1967 in the Fitzgerald River National Park area. In 1985, Dibblers were also discovered on two islands (Boullanger and Whitlock) off Jurien Bay.

    Foxes, cats and loss of habitat through fire, especially of the deep leaf litter layer, are thought to be the main threats to Dibblers on the mainland. Under the wildlife recovery program Western Shield, CALM aims to bring native animals, such as the Dibbler, back from the brink of extinction by controlling the threat of introduced predators - the fox and feral cat.

    On the islands the main threats to the species are fire and people trampling on sea-bird nests where dibblers nest and forage.

    “All members of the recovery team have co-operated to give this little known but important WA marsupial a chance to re-establish wild populations,” Mrs Edwardes said.

    Media contacts: Ministerial - Carole Cowling on 9421 7777
            CALM - Dr Syd Shea on 9442 0325
            Perth Zoo - Ian Williams 9474 0383