The future is looking brighter for the world’s most endangered marsupial Gilbert’s potoroo, with the capture of the first independent young born on Bald Island off the coast near Albany.
Environment Minister Mark McGowan today said the capture of a young female in September was a major find, as it confirmed that Bald Island could provide long-term support for a new population of potoroos.
“The last remaining natural population of the Gilbert’s potoroo in the world is at Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve and consists of fewer than 40 animals," Mr McGowan said.
“As part of the recovery plan for the species, the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) developed an ambitious plan back in early 2005 to establish a second population of the species.
“A trial translocation of a male and female to the island for five weeks last year proved successful and was followed by the permanent transfer of four adults to the island starting in August 2005. Another male and female were moved to the island this August.”
The Minister said the latest translocation would increase the island’s population and gene pool and provide a more certain future for this critically endangered species.
“Monitoring shows the potoroos are not only surviving but thriving as well, with five young recorded in pouches up to August this year,” he said.
“The aim is to have a population of 20 animals on the island by the end of 2008 through natural breeding on the site and supplementing the colony by transferring four more animals from the mainland.
“By creating and securing this second population we will significantly boost the chances of the species surviving in the long term.
"We are also planning to establish at least one more secure population on the mainland in the coming years in keeping with our overall threatened species recovery planning.”
Albany MLA Peter Watson said the find was fantastic news and would help secure the future of the species.
Mr Watson said the young female caught on Bald Island was recorded in her mother’s pouch last January.
“She was captured by placing traps around the area where one of the original males had been detected moving outside his usual home range,” he said.
“Given the survival of all four potoroos transferred last year, their good condition and the fact that the females have produced as many young as possible in the time available, the prospects for a flourishing population on Bald Island are excellent.
“This means future island progeny could be available to use in colonising new mainland areas.
“I would like to thank the many local volunteers who have assisted with this project for their time and dedication.
“It is incredibly exciting and heart-warming to know that efforts in saving this beautiful animal are beginning to pay off.”
Mr McGowan said the project was being funded through a combination of departmental funds, Natural Heritage Trust funds through the South Coast Regional Initiative Planning Team and the State Government’s special allocation of a $14.25million four-year ‘conservation dividend’ in the 2006-2007 State Budget.
DEC staff will continue to monitor the translocated population through radio- tracking, trapping and remote photography.
Gilbert Potoroo (Potorous gilbertii) was rediscovered in 1994 after having been unrecorded for 125 years.
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