Sandhill Dunnart page

Photo: Sandhill Dunnart by Ray Lloyd (Copyright) Contact:

Smithopsis psammophila

The Sandhill Dunnart is listed under the EPBC Act status (2012) as Endangered. Its currently known range is restricted to three widely separate areas, two in the Great Victoria Desert and one on the Eyre Pennisula in South Australia.

The remoteness of the known localities has resulted in a low survey effort, particularly in the Great Victoria Desert.

There is no robust estimate of the population size of the Sandhill Dunnart (SHD).

Key threats identified in the Action Plan for Australian Mammals (2012) for the SHD are:

1) Predation by Feral Cats and Red Foxes

This has been assessed as ‘severe’ as cats and foxes have caused extinctions in mammals in a ‘critical weight range’ which the SHD falls within.

2) Inappropriate fire regimes

This has been assessed as ‘severe’ as the increased presence of large summer fires in central Australia has the potential to destroy prime habitat of the SHD.

The Action Plan for Australian Mammals (2012) also identified several knowledge gaps in current SHD research, including:

  • Better defining of population distribution
  • Assessment of relative impacts of the threats on the SHD
  • Monitoring of appropriate sites
  • Effectiveness of threat mitigation options
  • New research to enhance management mechanisms
  • Resolve of taxonomic uncertainties

Various literature on the Sandhill Dunnart can be accessed here.

What is the Trust doing?

The Trust held a workshop on 11 November 2014 which brought together experts from industry, consultants, government agencies and environmental not-for-profits. At the workshop experts presented their latest research and findings and the groups discussed and prioritised threats and knowledge gaps for the species in the Great Victoria Desert.  The Trust has drafted a Sandhill Dunnart Research and Adaptive Management Plan to collate existing information and the findings of the workshop.  

One of the priority actions for the Trust is to identify the habitat preferences and distribution of SHD throughout the Great Victoria Desert. The Trust commissioned the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW, now the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions) to complete two documents to guide SHD surveys:

Surveys for SHD are currently being planned to be undertaken throughout the Great Victoria Desert in late 2017 using camera traps, based on the survey designs and monitoring guidelines developed by DPaW.


Page updated 14/07/2017