New island home for south coast endangered species

Noisy scrub bird. Photo- Alan Danks
Noisy scrub bird. Photo- Alan Danks

Two remote islands in the Recherche Archipelago, east of Esperance, could provide a lifeline for two of Western Australia's most endangered species, the noisy scrub-bird and Gilbert's potoroo.

Five noisy scrub-birds were translocated from Bald Island, near Albany, to Mondrain Island, as part of a trial to determine the island's suitability as a new home for the species.

Six Gilbert's potoroos from Bald Island were released onto Middle Island, following two successful trial translocations that showed the island could support the species, particularly because it had a good supply of truffles which potoroos feed on.

The Gilbert's potoroo is the world's rarest marsupial, with fewer than 100 animals in existence in Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve and newly established populations at Bald Island and Waychinicup National Park.

Less than 1,500 noisy scrub-birds exist, all within an area between Cheynes Beach and Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve and on Bald Island. Scrub-birds have also been translocated back into unburnt habitat in Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve to build genetic diversity in the population that was impacted in the 2015 fires.

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions carried out the translocations, with funding from South Coast Natural Resource Management for the scrub-bird translocation and the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy for the potoroo translocation, with support from the Gilbert's Potoroo Action Group.

Comments attributed to Environment Minister Stephen Dawson:

"Baiting under our Western Shield wildlife conservation program on the south coast has reduced fox and cat predation, however, these species remain vulnerable to predation and their habitat has been impacted by bushfires on a number of occasions.

"For these species to persist it is vital that we continue to establish new, insurance populations where they can breed and prosper without the threats they face on the mainland.

"The McGowan Government is committed to working with partners and the community to conserve threatened species in Western Australia, backed up by world's best practice science and on-ground management actions."