Two trial translocations for a rare marsupial have shown promising results, according to the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.
With less than 100 animals in existence, trial translocations in the Great Southern have awarded the critically endangered Gilbert’s potoroo another reprieve from extinction.
Two four-week trial translocations – one in winter and one in summer – were carried out over 2017 and 2018 to assess the suitability of Middle Island, near Esperance, to support the marsupials.
The species was believed to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 1994 at Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve, near Albany.
In the following years, new populations were set up close by on Bald Island and in a fenced enclosure in Waychinicup National Park.
But in 2015 a lightning strike sparked a 1230-hectare fire at Two Peoples Bay, destroying 90 per cent of the potoroo’s habitat at that location.
Following the fire, the Department 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.
The rescued animals were held in captivity until a more suitable translocation site could be found, and habitat recovered at Two Peoples Bay to allow animals to be returned.
In 2016, the Federal Government’s National Landcare Program provided Albany-based community group Gilbert’s Potoroo Action Group with a $250,000 grant to establish another population on Middle Island.