Gilbert’s potoroo future looks promising after three new animals discovered in population

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Middle Island’s population of potoroos is looking healthy.
Camera IconMiddle Island’s population of potoroos is looking healthy. Credit: DBCA

The Gilbert’s potoroo is coming back from the brink in the Great Southern after a survey discovered three new animals in their island habitat.

The future of Australia’s most endangered marsupial is looking promising on Middle Island with evidence of breeding success after a 2018 translocation.

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 almost wiped out the population.

Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions research associates Anne Cochrane and Tony Friend last month spent five nights on Middle Island surveying known potoroo habitat.

They identified three of the original released potoroos and three new adults.

The news brought relief after concerns the relocated population would not survive due to an unfavourable habitat on Middle Island.

“There were no predators so we hoped it was suitable ... it was a long shot because we weren’t sure if the climate was right, but there was plenty of food,” Dr Friend said.

“Almost three years since they were released, the question was ‘were they still there’.”

Based on dental development, the newly identified animals were under two years old and must have been born on the island, according to Dr Friend.

He said the relocated population was successfully breeding and “the future for potoroos on Middle Island was looking bright”.

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