The fences are up, the paddock is ready, and now all we are missing are the kowaris!

The fencing team prepping the fence in Red Lake. Photo: Nathan Manders

This carnivorous marsupial is found only in a small pocket of north-eastern South Australia and south-western Queensland. The species faces a 20% risk of extinction in the next 20 years (considered dire). By introducing kowaris to Arid Recovery, we will be providing them with their first ‘safe haven’ in Australia (i.e., an area of land that protects species from key threats, such as feral cats).

The translocation will also increase the species’ overall population size and may improve genetic diversity. We hope in the future the Arid Recovery population will act as a source population for other translocations.

Today, a team has travelled up to Clifton Hills Station, one of only a few locations in the country where kowaris exist. Clifton Hills is over 500 km from Roxby Downs, with access via the unsealed Borefield Road, Oodnadatta and Birdsville Tracks.

Map of where the team will be travelling to collect kowaris.

This team will camp remotely at Clifton Hills Station for approximately a week while they trap for kowaris. This will involve setting small metal box traps baited with tuna oil-soaked dog biscuits and checking the traps regularly throughout the night. The goal is to take between 6 and 12 independent kowaris for our trial translocation. Animals will be transported back to Arid Recovery in specially-designed boxes. Radio transmitters will be fitted before animals are released into soft-release pens. These pens will contain the animals while they acclimatise, and aim to limit how far the kowaris move once we release them from the pens.

Once the kowaris are at Arid Recovery, they require extensive monitoring to ensure they are settling into their new home well. This will be done through continuous camera trap monitoring and radio tracking. All going well; we plan to collect more animals next year or in 2024 to supplement this translocation.

A kowari posing for the camera after being processed. Photo: Ariana Ananda.

Funds through the Australian Government’s Environment Restoration Fund – Safe Havens program have helped cover the costs of preparing the reserve for kowaris and of the translocation itself. We also have a great set of partners, including Kokatha Aboriginal Corporation, SA Arid Lands Landscape Board, SA Department  for Environment and Water, Waratah Fencing, BHP and Bush Heritage Australia.

Can you help us follow the kowaris closely as they settle into their new home? We are seeking donations to purchase more camera traps, batteries and SD cards so we can record how kowaris establish at Arid Recovery, what habitats they use and how well they breed. You can donate by adopting a kowari or making a direct donation. All donations are tax-deductible.

  • $30 will fund SD cards to monitor two kowari dens as the females raise their young (fingers crossed!)
  • $50 will fund batteries to run a camera trap for an entire year, keeping track of where kowaris go on the reserve
  • $500 will fund a camera trap that can monitor kowaris for many years to come and form a cornerstone of our research on this enigmatic species

We appreciate the support, and hope you are as besotted by these spunky animals as we are.