A carnivorous marsupial thought to be extinct for a century has been found alive in the Australian state of New South Wales. The crest-tailed mulgara, one of two mulgara species, is known to have endured in the arid region of Central Australia. Its discovery in Sturt National Park near the northwest corner of New South Wales is a surprise, considering that the crest-tailed mulgara’s presence in the region was previously limited to fossilized bone fragments. Documenting the crest-tailed mulgara’s population distribution was also complicated by the fact that until 2005, crest-tailed and bush-tailed mulgaras were considered to be the same species.
The crest-tailed mulgara was one of Australia’s many native species that fell victim to invasive animals. “The crest-tailed mulgara was once widely distributed across sandy desert environments in inland Australia, but declined due to the effects of rabbits, cats and foxes,” said Rebecca West of the University of New South Wales. West’s team at the university’s Wild Desert project discovered the crest-tailed mulgara in New South Wales during a recent scientific monitoring trip. Mulgaras are nocturnal and do not need to drink water, instead gaining the moisture that they need through the insects, reptiles and small mammals that they eat.
The mulgara’s rediscovery comes at an opportune time for the team, which is preparing to implement a predator reintroduction and rabbit eradication effort. “The aim of this project is to return mammal species not seen in their natural habitat for over 90 years in Sturt National Park,” said Jaymie Norris, National Parks and Wildlife Service area manager.“Rabbits, cats and foxes will be eradicated from two 20-square-kilometre fenced exclosures in Sturt National Park, before locally extinct mammals are reintroduced.”