Potoroo's precarious existence

KATHERINE MOUNTAIN

The endangered Gilbert’s potoroos live life on the edge every year, with potentially deadly summer bush fires threatening their survival.

With bushfire season now starting, the recent Two Peoples Bay fire which tragically injured two fire fighters, was also a timely reminder of the threat to native wildlife.

Mt Gardner in the Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve is the last known home of the wild potoroo population.

Gilbert’s Potoroo Action Group chairman Ron Dorn said the risk of fire continued to be the major threat to the species.

“Probably this fire was as close to being the major threat that everyone is worried about,” he said.

“Department of Environment and Conservation make every effort to protect the reserve … but it’s a thin line you walk.

“If a fire did get in there they could be wiped out completely.”

It is estimated there are only 30 to 40 animals in the wild population, and an additional 40 to 50 animals in two translocated conservation colonies at Bald Island and Normans Beach.

The Gilbert’s Potoroo Action Group engages in regular monitoring of the animals to learn more about their movements.

“We’ve funded the installation of 20 motion activated cameras, which are being used to observe or study the movement of the potoroo throughout the day or night, being nocturnal,” Mr Dorn said.

This week is Bushfire Action Week and a timely reminder to be vigilant this summer to ensure more people’s lives and animals are not put in danger.

Fire and Emergency Services Authority Great Southern district manager Kevin Parsons urged people to act now.

“If you don’t prepare you won’t have a chance,” he said.