Monitoring of the world’s rarest marsupial, which was thought to be extinct, has revealed small populations of the quokka-like animal in WA are responding well to recovery efforts.
A celebration today will mark 20 years since the discovery of a single population of about 30 Gilbert’s potoroos at Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve near Albany.
Environment Minister Albert Jacob said Gilbert’s potoroos had been the subject of intensive conservation work by the Department of Parks and Wildlife since the 1994 discovery.
The population has increased to more than 100 animals across three colonies.
“This is an outstanding success story, with government and community organisations working together to bring about real improvement in the numbers of this critically endangered species,” Mr Jacob said.
“Prior to its rediscovery, the species was thought to have been extinct for more than a century, with the last recorded specimens collected in the late 1870s.”
Mr Jacob said ongoing recovery efforts included moving 10 potoroos from the original colony at Two Peoples Bay to predator-free Bald Island between 2005 and 2007, as insurance against the loss of the mainland population.
“In 2010, nine potoroos from Bald Island and Two Peoples Bay were released into a predator-free 380ha enclosure in Waychinicup National Park, 25km east of Albany, with more animals introduced into the park over the past four years,” he said.
“The latest monitoring at Waychinicup has shown the species is doing well, with at least 29 animals in the enclosure, including the 12 animals that were moved by helicopter from Bald Island to Waychinicup during July this year.
“This operation was funded through a generous donation of $10,000 by Albany-based community organisation the Gilbert’s Potoroo Action Group.”
The main threat to Gilbert’s potoroos is feral cats and foxes.