It was about 4am on a dark Tasmanian morning and I was heading for Hobart airport for a 6am flight. I was driving along twisting country roads, taking it easy for the sake of ambush wombats and my rental car excess. Rounding a corner I saw a movement on the road, I saw spots, white on brown covering the body and tail, and I just had time for a glimpse of the whole creature as it turned to run for the bushes. And that was it! My first ever glimpse of a wild quoll! Several years would pass before my next, also in Tasmania, this time a female eastern quoll and her four half-grown young.
Although two species of quoll still persist in Tasmania, they are no longer common near Canberra where I live. In fact, despite their former abundance, quolls are in decline across much of Australia, and conservation of these native marsupial predators and their ecological roles is paramount. As native predators such as quolls have disappeared from the Australian landscape, they have been replaced by introduced species. This is no coincidence: there is good evidence that cats and foxes have negative impacts on quolls, as well as many other Australian animals. So, if cats are bad for Australia, but quolls are good, what can we do to reduce the impacts of cats, and promote quoll conservation?