Locally-Extinct Phascogales Reintroduced Into NSW’s Mallee Cliffs National Park

Jun 09, 2022by Olivia - F&F

From a captive breeding program in the Adelaide Zoo, to roaming free in New South Wales’ Mallee Cliffs National Park — the reintroduction of fourteen locally-extinct red-tailed phascogales marks a new era for the tiny mammal!

14 Red-Tailed Phascogales Have Arrived In NSW!

Have you ever heard of the red-tailed phascogale? This tiny, ashy-coloured marsupial was once abundant across much of Australia’s arid and semi-arid land. But now, due to the arrival of wild cats and foxes, the red-tailed phascogales occupies just 1% of its former habitat, 

In a partnership between Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC), the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, and Adelaide Zoo — 14 red-tailed phascogales have been reintroduced into Mallee Cliffs National Park, located in western NSW. The 12 females and 2 males have been added to the existing population of 60 phascogales, which were released into the predator-free sanctuary in November 2021. 

Mallee Cliffs National Park aims to increase the nationwide population by nearly 20% to around 1,660 individuals.

Malle Cliffs National ParkMalle Cliffs National Park

Image: Wayne Lawler / AWC

The Mission To Reintroduce 10 Locally-Extinct Mammals Into NSW

Soon, the partnership between AWC and the NSW Government will see 10 regionally extinct mammals reintroduced into Mallee Cliffs National Park! The area features 9,570 hectares of pristine bushland, which is enclosed by a 37.2 kilometre feral predator-proof fence. 

This predator-free area, says Environment Minister James Griffin, is critical to the conservation efforts that will help to restore ecosystems and prevent more extinctions. Soon, there will be 65,000 hectares of predator-free areas in national parkland across NSW.

“The phascogale is the 8th mammal listed as extinct in NSW that has been returned to NSW national parks in the past 3 years" and hope to remove 10 more mammals from the list.

Reintroducing Red Tailed PhascogaleReintroducing Red Tailed Phascogale

Image: Brad Leue / AWC

The Red-Tailed Phascogales Breeding Program Is A Success!

In 2021, the AWC and Adelaide Zoo established a captive breeding program for the tiny red-tailed phascogales. To the delight of the team at the Adelaide Zoo, the phascogales have been successfully breeding little jelly-bean sized joeys. 

“Our keepers have been working hard to ensure that the captive-bred phascogales will thrive in the wild, and are excited to be a part of the release at Mallee Cliffs National Park,” said Claire Hartvigsen-Power.

The release involved a 450km nighttime drive from Adelaide Zoo, all the way to the nesting boxes in Mallee Cliffs! “Red-tailed Phascogales are just one of the species that Zoos SA are partnering with AWC to return to the wild," said Hartvigsen-Power.

Red Tailed PhascogaleRed Tailed Phascogale

Image: Brad Leue / AWC

AWC Is Reintroducing The Red-Tailed Phascogales Across Australia

Since 2017, the AWC has been busy reintroducing the red-tailed phascogales back into protected sanctuaries across Australia. In 2017 and 2018, AWC translocated 145 red-tailed phascogales into Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary, which is located in Western Australia. 

Again, in 2020, AWC reintroduced around 90 red-tailed phascogales back into the Northern Territory’s Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary, which is one of the largest protected areas in Australia. Prior to this translocation, the tiny mammal hadn’t been spotted in the area for more than 70 years!

These programs are undertaken with a goal to create wild, self-sustaining populations of red-tailed phascogales. 

We’re incredibly happy to hear that the once locally-extinct red-tailed phascogales is finding new homes all over Australia, thanks to the amazing work that the AWC is doing. Although the red-tailed phascogales is probably one of the lesser-known Australian mammals, we’re looking forward to seeing healthy populations dotted all over Australia — especially in our gorgeous national parks.

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