NEWS

Joey Signals Hope For WA's Fire Ravaged Quokka Population

Roughly 80 percent of quokkas in Northcliffe were lost during the 2015 blaze.

03/03/2017 9:16 AM AEDT | Updated 03/03/2017 7:09 PM AEDT
Katy Jones
In 2015 an intense bushfire ripped through quokka habitat near Northcliffe, WA.

A baby quokka spotted with his mum has brought great hope to Western Australia's mainland quokka population, which was decimated by severe fires in 2015.

Sensor cameras picked up multiple sightings of the young joey at the feet of its mother and another adult quokka, thought to be the father.

WWF-AUSTRALIA
Hally said it was unusual to see the quokkas living together.

Merrill Hally, WWF Australia Species Conservation Manager, told The Huffington Post Australia that she was thrilled to see a joey with the two adult survivors of the intense fires, a sign that a recovery is well underway in the area.

"The significance of seeing a joey like this is showing the animals that did survive the fire are breeding and the young are surviving," she said.

"The mother and an adult male quokka also seem to be on very good terms and have been seen together consistently for the past six months. It is unusual to see male-female interaction over a period of time as long as this, so this is really interesting for us."

k811
A severe fire tore though Western Australia's southern forests in 2015.

The Northcliffe quokka population was dramatically reduced from an estimated 500 to 39 after the severe fires, however it is thought that others may have survived by fleeing the fire.

"We are working to radio collar surviving quokkas so we can monitor how they move back into the burn area as it recovers, see if their range increases as well as monitor their welfare," Halley said.

"It's going to take a lot of time for the quokka habitat to be fully restored. Undergrowth is slowly returning, but canopy regeneration takes time. With such a small number of quokkas left in the region, it's vital that we are out there protecting these animals."

WWF-AUSTRALIA

It's believed that only four thousand quokkas still exist on the mainland, with numbers declining by about 50 percent in recent times, according to Hally.

"There's been modelling done that shows that the species will decline...the future doesn't look good," she said.

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