Endangered Gilbert’s potoroo hope

Photo: Jennene Riggs.
Photo: Jennene Riggs.

Two trials translocations for the world’s rarest marsupial have shown promising results, according to the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.

With less than 100 animals in existence, the trials have awarded the critically endangered Gilbert’s potoroo another reprieve from extinction.

The four-week trials were carried out to assess the suitability of Middle Island east of Esperance for the establishment of a new population.

The two trials, undertaken by the department and the Gilbert’s Potoroo Action Group, took place over winter and summer during 2017 and 2018.

The animals were monitored closely over the four-week period to assess Middle Island as a suitable habitat.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the results from the trial were very encouraging and had shown the island habitat would be able to support a potoroo population.

The species were believed to be extinct before it was rediscovered in 1994 near Albany.

In the years that followed, new populations were established on Bald Island and in a fenced enclosure in Waychinicup National Park.

A lightning strike in 2015 sparked a 1,230 hectare fire destroying 90 per cent of the marsupial’s habitat at Two Peoples Bay in Albany.

The then Department of Parks and Wildlife moved to protect the remaining population, rescuing the animals until a more suitable translocation site could be found and their habitat at Two Peoples Bay recovered.

In 2016, the federal government’s National Landcare Program provided Albany-based Gilbert’s Potoroo Action Group with a $250,000 grant to establish another population on an offshore island.