Working hard to save the dibbler

The Dirk Hartog Island National Park about 850 kms north of Perth has welcomed some adorable new residents.

Twenty-four endangered dibblers bred at Perth Zoo were released to the island in October by staff from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.

Dibblers are one of Australia’s smallest marsupial species. They have brown-grey fur, are about 15cm long and weigh less than 100g.

Since European settlement, dibblers declined from their original range in the western and southern coastal regions of WA due to predation by cats and foxes, and reduction of habitat.

They are being progressively reinstated as part of a captive breeding and release joint project between DBCA’s Parks and Wildlife Service and Perth Zoo within WA’s Western Shield wildlife conservation program.

Eradication of the predatory cat population from Dirk Hartog has enabled the reintroduction of this tiny carnivore to the island.

Before their release, the dibblers were micro-chipped and genetic samples were collected. Twelve have been fitted with radio collars so researchers can track their movements. The monitoring will enable identification of habitat preferences at the new location to help guide future releases and conservation efforts.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the release of dibblers at Dirk Hartog Island would help the habitat return to what it once was and offered security to a species that would have struggled to survive.

Since 1997, more than 900 dibblers have been bred and released into the wild. Other sites include Escape Island in Jurien Bay, Gunton Island near Esperance and mainland parks and reserves in the South-West.

Learn more about dibblers here.