Sandhill dunnart recovery program

The sandhill dunnart (Sminthopsis psammophilla) is a carnivorous marsupial that lives in hummock (Triodia) grasslands in parts of arid and semi-arid Australia. In South Australia, it occurs across Northern Eyre Peninsula and in a southern portion of the Great Victoria Desert in Yellabinna Regional Reserve.

The species is currently listed as endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999) and the National Parks and Wildlife Act (1972). Since it was first discovered in the Northern Territory, the dunnart’s range has declined significantly to the point where it is found in only a handful of locations across Australia. Threats include:

  • inappropriate fire regimes
  • exotic weeds
  • predation by feral carnivores
  • human developments in the arid region.

Fire is a particularly strong risk for sandhill dunnarts, due to their preference for hummock grasslands that have not burned for eight to 10 years.

Sandhill dunnart recovery plan

A national sandhill dunnart recovery plan is being implemented in the Alinytjara Wilurara region and includes:

  • ongoing monitoring of sandhill dunnarts in Yellabinna Regional Reserve
  • surveys for sandhill dunnarts in new locations in the Maralinga Tjarutja Lands
  • supporting research into the sandhill dunnarts’ responses to fire and genetic variability across the country
  • developing predictive habitat models to inform management of Yellabinna Regiona Reserve
  • increasing Indigenous engagement in sandhill dunnart recovery.

Community engagement

The sandhill dunnart recovery program works with communities in the AW region across various parts of the recovery plan. As part of the Oak Valley Land Management Engagement program, the Oak Valley community, for example, has been contracted to conduct sandhill dunnart surveys in the Maralinga Tjarutja Lands. The Friends of Great Victoria Desert have also been involved in tracking training, contributing to searches for sandhill dunnarts.

Program progression

Sandhill Dunnart trapping - joined by WMPG members in Yellabinna Yumbara