What the devil is a Spotted-tailed Quoll?

The Tamborine Mountain Escarpment Protection Precinct offers perfect habitat for the Spotted-tailed Quoll. There have been unconfirmed recordings of the species within the area; a species that once occurred across Tamborine Mountain before the loss of a lot of habitat (Ref. Tamborine Mountain Escarpment Flora and Fauna Report; Chenoweth, 2001).

To record consistent sightings and habits of this elusive animal requires months of dedicated on-site study … just ask the Australian Quoll Conservancy.

Known as … the Spotted-tailed quoll, the Tiger Quoll, the Tiger Cat and the Burrumbil.

Scientific name … Dasyurus maculatus maculatus.

Quolls belong to the Dasyurini tribe, which includes the Tasmanian Devil, Antechinus, Kowari and Mulgara.

Key points about the Spotted-tailed Quoll …

–  primarily nocturnal
–  a predatory animal
–  the largest marsupial carnivore on mainland Australia
–  top of the food chain, it plays a role in the population control of other native animals
–  three to four times larger than the other five quoll species at 75 cm from the nose to the tail
–  the only quoll to have spots from the body right onto the tail.

Threats to Spotted-tailed Quoll numbers …

Threats to the quoll’s survival include:

1. Land clearing and the resulting loss of habitat.
2. Cats, dogs and foxes, which eat young quolls (made worse by habitat loss as feral animals penetrate cleared areas).
3. The dreaded cain toad (quolls can eat them and suffer poisoning).

Interesting …

Quolls live for only a very short time – some three to four years. This could be one of the key reasons why the status of this species is so threatened. If the number of new animals moving into established quoll populations is low, then breeding is affected and numbers drop.

It’s vital to protect the habitat of the Spotted-tailed Quoll to enable the animals to socialise and breed.

Current status of the Spotted-tailed Quoll …

1. Endangered: Australian Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
2. Near-threatened: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. (IUCN stands for: International Union for Conservation of Nature.)
3. Vulnerable: Queensland Government’s Nature Conservation Act 1992.

We need to give the Spotted-tailed Quoll the best possible chance of surviving within the remaining habitat so crucial to their survival.

We have a responsibility to protect this beautiful and unusual animal from being exposed to any more threats. We’ve done enough damage; it’s time we do some good.

Great resources on the Spotted-tailed Quoll …

Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection: Queensland’s quolls

Australian Government Department of the Environment: Spotted-tail Quoll

Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland: Spotted-tailed Quoll

IUCN Red List: Dasyurus maculatus

Meredith’s story

Meredith said: “The mountain had only recently emerged from its pioneering phase (“clearing the scrub”) when I was born, I now realise. Great ringbarked trees still stood in the paddocks here and there, but the top of the mountain was virtually cleared of all forest trees and given over to dairy and other agriculture, while the forest lay just over the edge all around us. Gardens were full of European plants (no native gardens back then), and only the most intrepid forest birds came to them, though they continued to bring seeds from the rainforest that kept trying to re-establish themselves.

“When we left the mountain in the mid 1970s, the population was beginning to swell rapidly, and the place was filling with raw new houses where once the open paddocks had been. The changes were picking up speed, and it seemed time to go. I didn’t feel any urge to go back and see what had happened once we’d left, knowing how saddened I’d be. The one comfort was the presence of the national parks all around, which I trusted would preserve the natural world that was such an important part of my memory of Tamborine. (And it’s true, walking those forest paths takes me straight back to childhood still.)

“When I went back to the mountain after decades of absence in the 1990s I was initially astonished that the top of the mountain was, if anything, more covered in trees than when I knew it, since the paddocks had now been subdivided into house blocks each with their own garden, and native gardens had encouraged the birds back in with their forest trees.

“The core area for survival of the mountain’s natural world must remain the protected areas, and the key to their survival is learning and teaching others respect for the natural world, rather than the potential for its exploitation. If the inhabitants of the mountain were all individual home-owners with native gardens full of endemic species, I really do think there would be the possibility for viable coexistence between the human and the natural worlds. With every new “development” that threatens what remains, however, we’re putting all that more and more in jeopardy. There’s a wonderful chance to do it right on Tamborine, and it’s truly dismaying to see how we continue to do it wrong, given all we know.”

About: Meredith McKinney is a celebrated translator of contemporary and classical Japanese literature. Meredith lived on Tamborine Mountain as a child with her mother, renowned poet and environmentalist Judith Wright.

Why bother protecting the Tamborine Mountain Escarpment?

The decision to create the Tamborine Mountain Escarpment Protection Precinct was not a trivial one, not one made quickly and not one made on a whim.

The decision to create the Escarpment was made to protect one of the most significant green areas of the Mountain; one of the areas that makes the Mountain unique to the South East Queensland region.

The Escarpment in the making

In the 1980s, individuals, community groups and organisations met to formally discuss the Escarpment and the importance of developing policies to protect it. Some 30 years (and more) of creating and recognising the Escarpment has made the area an essential part of Tamborine Mountain culture.

To develop the Escarpment took the work of many, including the Natural Heritage Trust, Tamborine Mountain Landcare, Council, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, the Federal Government and Chenoweth Environment Planning and Landscape Architecture.

In 2003, Tamborine Mountain Landcare, along with a troop of enthusiastic volunteers, came together to help revegetate parts of the Escarpment. This commitment to protect and further extend the Escarpment’s wildlife corridors continues on.

Why work so hard and invest so much time and money (public and private) in creating the Escarpment just to throw it away at the hint of a tourism “opportunity”? A tourism opportunity that fights the core values of the Escarpment?

View of Guanaba from across valley

What’s so special about the Escarpment?

While much of the Mountain has been cleared of vegetation, the Escarpment remains forested.

In parts of the Escarpment, vegetation had been previously cleared by logging and to make room for banana plantations and farming. But after these activities ceased, many of the once-cleared areas re-forested, allowing indigenous flora to move back in. Landcare, volunteers and residents have worked tirelessly to help revegetate the Escarpment with indigenous and native species.

The Escarpment provides a beautiful green backdrop to the Scenic Rim, the Gold Coast and Brisbane. It is unique in terms of its natural offerings – geologically sensitive sites, water catchments, such as the ecologically sensitive Guanaba Creek, and remnant forests and rainforests.

“… the Tamborine Mountain Escarpment supports more than 80% of all native terrestrial fauna species … and 61% of flora known to occur in the Gold Coast region. This high biodiversity, within a ‘megadiverse’ region, has high nature conservation significance and justifies further protective and management measures.” Ref. Tamborine Mountain Escarpment Flora and Fauna Report; Chenoweth Environmental Planning & Landscape Architecture Pty Ltd; Page 8.

Pearson's Green Treefrog

Pearson’s Green Treefrog

Our unique Tamborine Mountain … why we love it

So why do people visit Tamborine Mountain?

“Lush Tamborine Mountain is a favourite destination for tourists who come seeking avocados, Devonshire tea, crafts, bed-and-breakfast style accommodation and dramatic scenery.” Ref. Scenic Rim Regional Council website on Tamborine Mountain.

And why do people come to live here? Why do businesses set up here?

Because the Mountain offers unique green spaces, National Parks, quiet tourism, peaceful calm, charming service, amazing flora and fauna and much, much more.

Did you know, the first National Park was declared on Tamborine Mountain (ref. Scenic Rim Regional Council website). Since then, some 17 sections of National Park have been created on the Mountain.

“The vegetation and habitat of the Tamborine Mountain provides local character, attracts tourists, provides valuable natural services, is the strong hold of a number of rare flora and fauna … ” Ref. Tamborine Mountain Escarpment Flora and Fauna Report; Chenoweth Environmental Planning & Landscape Architecture Pty Ltd; Page 11.

Richmond Birdwing Butterfly

Richmond Birdwing Butterfly

Why protect the Escarpment?

There are many reasons to protect the Escarpment against this high-volume entertainment and tourism park proposal. These reasons are multi-fold:

1. The need to protect endangered, threatened and vulnerable species.
2. The need to protect sensitive ecological areas.
3. The need to protect water catchments.
4. The need to protect ground water sources.
5. The need to protect the scenic values.
6. The need to protect the current tourism on the Mountain.
7. The need to protect the community who live in the Escarpment.
8. The need to protect the Escarpment now and forever.

“The core area for survival of the Mountain’s natural world must remain the protected areas, and the key to their survival is learning and teaching others respect for the natural world, rather than the potential for its exploitation. If the inhabitants of the mountain were all individual home-owners with native gardens full of endemic species, I really do think there would be the possibility for viable coexistence between the human and the natural worlds. With every new “development” that threatens what remains, however, we’re putting all that more and more in jeopardy. There’s a wonderful chance to do it right on Tamborine, and it’s truly dismaying to see how we continue to do it wrong, given all we know.” Meredith McKinney is a celebrated translator of contemporary and classical Japanese literature. Meredith used to live on the Mountain as a child with her mother, poet and environmentalist Judith Wright.

Forest floor of Guanaba

If this development is allowed to happen …

You won’t have the Mountain you have now.

You won’t have the same faith in the Planning Scheme you once had.

You will loose a part of the Mountain that makes your home and your business unique.

And for what?

Let’s protect the Escarpment from this out-of-place development.

The Escarpment – our Mountain’s Green Heart – an important and significant place for Tamborine Mountain, for South East Queensland, for Australia and for the world.

Save Guanaba. And save our Green Heart.

For more on the Escarpment, visit the Save Guanaba Facebook page.