December 05, 2014

The Tasmanian Devil And The Potoroo - Two Endangered Australian Marsupials Appear To Be Recovering Well


HOBART scientists are hopeful of developing a “single injection” vaccine to protect the Tasmanian devil now the insurance population has reached a critical mass. 
As revealed by the Sunday Tasmanian, the outlook for the disease-ravaged species is the best it has been in a decade.

The State Government has declared the breeding program “a staggering success”, with a genetically diverse insurance population of 600 devils in 31 Australian zoos and wildlife parks.

Menzies Institute scientists in Hobart are now expected to have more access to devils for laboratory tests to develop a vaccine against the Devil Facial Tumour Disease.

Leader of the vaccine research program Greg Woods said his team had worked out how to “turn on” devil genes to trigger an immune response to the cancer.

He said testing of the technique would likely ramp up in the new year.

“The fact that the insurance population has reached its sustainable level means some of the devils can be made available to us to test,” Professor Woods said.

“Now that they’ve opened that window we can accelerate that research.”

He said until now the insurance population devils had been “strictly quarantined”, limiting scientists’ ability to test their immunisation technique on the animals.

Prof Woods said the results had been positive in the few devils tested, although multiple injections had been required to achieve immunity.

He said more testing was needed to hone the potential vaccine to a single dose.

Environment Minister Matthew Groom said yesterday the challenge of securing the devils’ future in the wild “remains profound” but a unique “window of opportunity” had opened.

A new Wild Devil Recovery Project will involve trapping and monitoring in the North East, where the disease first presented, then testing ways to “augment” the wild population as well as field trials to test the Menzies immunisation.

Plans to isolate devils on the Freycinet Peninsula will be deferred, which will allow more investment in the Tasman Peninsula isolation scheme.

By Sally Glaetzer

With thanks to The Mercury

Population of world's rarest marsupial - the Potoroo -  more than triples in WA


The success of a small population of quokka-like animals in Western Australia - at one stage thought to be extinct for a century - will be celebrated on Tuesday, 20 years on from the rediscovery of what is the world's rarest marsupial.

Monitoring of the Gilbert's potoroo has revealed small populations are continuing to respond well to recovery efforts.

The species has been the subject of intensive conservation work by the Department of Parks and Wildlife since the discovery of a single population of about 30 animals at Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve near Albany in 1994.

The population is now more than 100 animals across three colonies.

A celebration to mark 20 years of progress will be held at Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve.
Environment Minister Albert Jacob described the Gilbert's potoroo's recovery as "an outstanding success story.

He said government and community organisations had worked together "to bring about real improvement in the numbers of this critically endangered species."

"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.

Mr Jacob said ongoing recovery efforts included translocating 10 potoroos from the original colony at Two Peoples Bay to predator-free Bald Island between 2005 and 2007, as insurance against the loss of the mainland population.

"In 2010, nine potoroos from Bald Island and Two Peoples Bay were released into a predator-free 380 hectare enclosure in Waychinicup National Park, 25 kilometres east of Albany, with more animals introduced into the park over the past four years," he said.

"The latest monitoring at Waychinicup has shown the species is doing well, with at least 29 animals in the enclosure, including the 12 animals that were translocated by helicopter from Bald Island to Waychinicup during July this year.

"This operation was funded through a generous donation of $10,000 by Albany-based community organisation, the Gilbert's Potoroo Action Group."

The main threat to Gilbert's potoroo is predation by feral cats and foxes.

The Department of Parks and Wildlife conducts baiting to control feral cat and fox populations across key areas of the State through its Western Shield wildlife recovery program.


With many thanks to The SMH

Tasmanian Devils Build Resistance To Devil Facial Tumour Disease