A captive breeding program has been set up for Australia’s rarest mammal - Gilberts potoroo, rediscovered last December at Two Peoples Bay, east of Albany.
Environment Minister Peter Foss today said the Department of Conservation and Land Management had prepared interim management guidelines for the animal until a detailed recovery plan was drawn up.
“The interim guidelines enable CALM to undertake the preliminary work such as breeding up numbers so that the biological aspects of the species can be determined,” he said.
Mr Foss said Gilberts potoroos had not been recorded for 125 years until University of Western Australian zoology students Elizabeth Sinclair and Adrian Wayne trapped the animal while searching for quokkas last December.
Since then, a total of 14 potoroos had been trapped with seven retained for the captive breeding program.
CALM has built a series of ‘bush runs’, each 10m by 3m, in Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve to house the animals for the project.
Mr Foss said it was encouraging that several of the females trapped had been carrying pouch young which indicated the colony was naturally increasing.
“Another bright note has been the trapping of a male on the other side of the mountain on which the first animals were trapped eight months ago,” he said.
“Trapping in other parts of Two Peoples Bay is continuing but has not yet revealed further colonies. Other areas outside Two Peoples Bay such as Mt Manypeaks will also be investigated.”
The Minister said CALM had established an interim management team to oversee the captive breeding program headed by CALM’s South Coast Region senior operations officer.
Others involved included Ms Sinclair, local nature enthusiast Vic Smith, Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve management officer Alan Danks, senior CALM scientist Dr Tony Start and the head of CALM’s Threatened Species and Communities Unit - Dr Andrew Burbidge.
CALM had also stepped up its fox-baiting program to cover the whole of the 4500 hectare reserve and was maintaining a continuous bait barrier in the area where potoroos were known to exist.
The interim management program was being funded by CALM with support from the Australian Nature Conservation Agency.
Media contact: Stacey Molloy 222 9595, 321 2222 or CALM’s Alan Danks (098) 464 276