After the species has long been considered extinct in New South Wales (NSW), local scientists have found a living crest-tailed mulgara in a protected area located in the state's northwest region.
A healthy population used to thrive in Australia, including the inland areas. However, their numbers began to decline following the arrival of European settlers who brought in cats, foxes and other animals that preyed on the mulgaras. The species was gradually wiped out in NSW and known only through its fossilized remains.
Although a few of these furry marsupials are still surviving in Central Australian deserts, none have been spotted in inland regions until recently, when a group from University of New South Wales (UNSW) discovered Sturt National Park's first mulgara in over a hundred years.
It weighs less than 5.5 ounces and resembles a placental rat with light blonde covering. A black crest is located at the tip of its tail, which measures nearly half as long as its entire body. It retains its species' carnivorous diet, eating small mammals and reptiles as well as insects. The National Geographic describes the animal as a young female.
Conservation Group Aims To Restore Mulgara Population
The single mulgara was found in Tibooburra by a group of scientists monitoring animal life in the area as part of the Wild Deserts program. Launched by UNSW Sydney with conservation group Ecological Horizons and government agencies, the initiative seeks to find mammals rendered as extinct for over 90 years and return them to their natural dwellings.
After rediscovery of the furry animal also known by its indigenous name "ampurta," the organizations involved in Wild Deserts have been planning to support federal efforts on conservation.
Reece Pedler, the program's coordinator, says that the initiative has slated a project for 2018 that would help with restoring the mulgara population. An area within the park will be cleared of predatory animals before its enclosure. Mulgaras, as well as other extinct species such as the greater bilby and burrowing bettong, are going to be released in the fenced sanctuary before being reintroduced into the wild.
Other Extinct Species Could Still Be Living In Australia
Another presumably extinct marsupial could still be alive. The last sighting of a Tasmanian tiger was in the 1930s, but several people have claimed that members of the species are still living. Compelling statements from eyewitnesses triggered a survey to determine whether the animal has survived extinction or not. Surveillance cameras were also installed in an attempt to gather video evidence.