Western Australian Naturalists Club

Encouraging the study and protection of the natural environment

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Tony Friend: “Numbats: current status of our emblematic mammal”

14 June , 7:30 pm 9:00 pm

In the late 1970s, the mammal emblem of WA, the termite-eating numbat, was slipping towards extinction. This once-widespread marsupial survived in only three places in the south-west and by 1985, at only two sites, Dryandra and the Perup Forest with around 300 animals. This presentation will trace the ups and downs of the numbat recovery program to the current day, as numbers increased tenfold, with populations now not only in western Australia, but also in South Australia and New South Wales.

Tony Friend’s work as a research scientist with DBCA and its previous incarnations focused on the conservation of threatened marsupials for almost 40 years. He was recruited in 1980 to solve the problem of the disappearing numbat and his experiments at Dryandra showed that removal of foxes was followed by a rapid increase in the numbat population. Although Tony’s early work had focussed on bringing back the WA Wheatbelt’s lost mammals, in 1999 he was given the task of leading the program to prevent the extinction of Gilbert’s potoroo. Despite retiring in 2020, he is still involved in recovery programs for the numbat, dibbler and potoroo.

Photo by John Lawson.

Nedlands Lecture Theatre, Clifton St.
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