Kowari

Kowari - the new kid on the block.

Phpto: Billy La Marca

What is Arid Recovery doing?

The kowari will be the sixth threatened species reintroduced to Arid Recovery, with plans now well underway in an exciting new project. This will be the first-ever safe haven for the kowari, where it will be protected from cats and foxes. Kowaris have a 20% chance of extinction in the wild in the next 20 years unless we intervene. We hope that kowaris will establish and ultimately form an insurance population so we can help to return kowaris to wild populations and other sites from which they have disappeared. It's also an opportunity to learn about this enigmatic species and develop tools to turn around its decline.

The project is funded through the Australian Government's Environment Restoration Fund Safe Havens program. We have many partners, including Kokatha Aboriginal Corporation, SA Arid Lands Landscape Board, DEW, Waratah Fencing, BHP and Bush Heritage Australia.

Range

This truly fantastic beast lives in the Sturt Stony Desert, deep in outback South Australia and Queensland. It's elusive, it's shy, and it's tough to find. Western science first discovered them in 1895; it has disappeared from the Northern Territory and from many sites in both SA and QLD. But worryingly, once it disappears from a site, it struggles to return.

Shelter

Kowaris are nocturnal and are known to bask in the sun around burrow entrances during cooler weather. They occupy stony gibber plains with little shrub and ground cover. The species shelters in burrows that it digs in sand mounds between gibber pavements, as well as in burrows dug by other species, especially bilbies.

Diet

Kowaris are nocturnal, hunting for prey at night, but are known to bask in the sun around burrow entrances during cooler weather. Their diet consists of insects, small vertebrates (particularly rodents) and termites. While Kowaris are small (between 70 and 140 grams), they are ferocious predators and have even been known to eat long-haired rats and rabbits.

Breeding

They are solitary animals, except during mating. The breeding season is locally synchronised, with breeding occurring between April and December following rain. Individual females are capable of breeding in two events per year and can raise a maximum of six pouch young per event. Individuals typically live just over a year in the wild, although they can survive for more than two years.

Threats

Historical causes of decline for Kowari are poorly understood; however, several threats are currently recognised. The most severe threat to Kowari is habitat degradation from livestock and introduced herbivores, particularly rabbits. Stock reduces shelter availability by trampling burrows. Over-grazing from both stock and rabbits reduces resource availability for prey species, which, in turn, reduces prey availability for Kowaris. Predation by introduced species including feral cats and foxes, and also possibly by dingoes is a significant threat to Kowari. The expansion of water points for livestock throughout Kowari habitat likely exposes them to a higher risk as predators are drawn in.