Potoroo on road to recovery

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Dr Tony Friend and Louisa Bell release a potoroo at Bald Island in 2007.
Camera IconDr Tony Friend and Louisa Bell release a potoroo at Bald Island in 2007. Credit: Steve Ferrier/Steve Ferrier

The future is looking bright for the critically endangered Gilbert’s potoroo after years of passionate conservation work on the south coast.

The animal was believed to be extinct until it was rediscovered 26 years ago in Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve.

A bushfire that tore through the reserve in 2015 pushed the species to the brink.

After the fire, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions managed to attach GPS trackers to some of the marsupials.

This week, a DBCA spokeswoman said the species was showing signs of recovery.

“The results have shown that four years after the fire, potoroos are now using the recovering habitat to forage, with this behaviour increasing as the vegetation density increases post-fire,” she said.

“In July 2019, a female potoroo was for the first time found to occasionally nest in the post-fire habitat.

“By November 2019, her time spent nesting in the post-fire habitat had increased.

“Research has also found that the diet of Gilbert’s potoroos consists of 90 per cent truffles, with over 40 truffle spore species found in the scats of those at Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve.”

There are estimated to be fewer than 150 Gilbert’s potoroos, most of them in the reserve and a handful in other places where they have been relocated.

From 2005-2007, a small number of potoroos were moved to Bald Island, where there were no feral predators such as foxes and cats.

That Bald Island population has since grown to about 70.

The DBCA spokeswoman said the success of the move had led to the establishment of another mainland population.

“A 380ha enclosure was established within Waychinicup National Park,” she said.

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