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article imageGilbert's potoroo once thought to be extinct, making a comeback

By Karen Graham     Dec 2, 2014 in Science
The Gilbert's potoroo, or rat-kangaroo is Australia's most endangered animal and one of the world's most endangered mammals. Thought to be extinct in the, 30 of the animals were rediscovered in 1994. With careful conservation, there are now 100.
The tiny marsupials were once wide-spread all across the southern region of Western Australia. Now, they are only found on the Mount Gardner headland at Two Peoples Bay. Nocturnal animals, they spend their days hiding in dense thickets, and are rarely seen in the open. The rat-kangaroos are a bit smaller than a rabbit, with long, pointed, slightly down-curved noses and long tails. They have long claws on their front feet, all the better for digging up their favorite food, truffles.
Western Australia's Department of Environment and Conservation set up the Gilbert's Potoroo recovery program after their rediscovery in 1994. Several times a year, safe traps are put out on the reserve to catch the animals. They are then given a thorough physical examination, and females are carefully checked to see if they are carrying young in their pouches.
Gilbert s Potoroo
Gilbert's Potoroo
John Gould
In 2001, The Gilbert's Potoroo Action Group was formed. Besides raising funds for a captive breeding program, they also concentrated their efforts on raising public awareness of the potoroo program. In 2005, to protect the remaining population, a male and two female potoroos were moved to Bald Island. By 2007, ten potoroos had been moved to the predator-free colony on the island. In 2010, nine potoroos were released into a predator-free 380 Hectare (939 acres) enclosure that was established in the Waychinicup national park, about 25 Kilometers (15.5 miles) from Albany.
The state's environment minister, Albert Jacob is quite pleased with the way the conservation effort has been going. Jacob says that since 1994, when only 30 potoroos were found, their numbers have now increased to 100, living in three colonies. “Prior to its rediscovery, the species was thought to have been extinct for more than a century, with the last recorded specimens collected in the late 1870s,” he said.
More about potoroo, bush rat, Two Peoples Bay, Western australia, Extinct
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