'Extinct' eastern quolls reintroduced in historic homecoming
Eastern quolls - extinct for almost 50 years - have made a long-awaited comeback after being released back into the wilds of southern NSW.
In what has been hailed as the first time an extinct carnivore from mainland Australia has been reintroduced into its natural habitat, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), along with their partners, released 20 of the marsupials into Booderee National Park.
"It was a long day, but a very exciting day," WWF head of living ecosystems Darren Glover told News Corp.
"For thousands of years eastern quolls played a part in the ecosystems as primarily insect eaters, It will be fascinating to see what happens when they return to that role at Booderee."
The eastern quoll disappeared during the 1970s - foxes, disease and habitat destruction the main culprits - and retreated to the safety of Tasmania.
But now they have fighting second chance to reclaim their homeland.
And while this group of quolls face some difficult challenges - finding food, shelter, avoiding predators - there is a strong belief this could be the dawn of a new era in part of Australia known for its minor miracles.
Booderee has seen several successfully reintroductions of "locally extinct" species including long-nosed potoroos and southern brown bandicoots, along with other native species such as long-nosed bandicoots, brushtail possums, swamp wallabies and a range of ground-nesting birds.
The park is sanctuary for such species thanks to the dramatic reduction of foxes and other feral animals.
The captivity-bred quolls will be fitted with GPS collars and will be tracked and monitored for the next three years with about 40 more of the marsupials to join them next year depending on the initial success of the reintroduction.