It’s fair to say that this little wonder has had a great run, and we’re sad to see it go away. It may be back from the dead in the wild, but here in the Australian Mammal of the Year competition we won’t see more of it until next year. Gilbert’s potoru made it to the last five, but missed—by a whisker! – upon passing a new voting round.
Here at the editors, we are on the nail biting terrain. You know the drill: You only have 22 hours to vote for your choice in the Top 4, after which we’ll remove the lowest-rated mammal, clear the results and announce our Final 3 at 12 noon AEST Monday, August 22. We’re at the pointy end folks – get friends, family and random people on the bus to help your favorite mammal take its place in the sun.
Goodbye Gilbert’s potoro – we love you!
names: Gilbert’s potoro (Potentious Gilbertii). Noongar name(s): Ngilgyte, Ngilkat, Garlgyte
Mate: Head and body length 27cm, tail length 21cm, weight about 1kg
Eating pattern: About 94% truffle-like fungi and a small percentage of invertebrates and plant material
Habitat: Dense, long-unburnt coastal heath on the south coast of Western Australia east of Albany and two offshore islands.
State of conservation: Critically Endangered – only 100-120 individuals known alive.
Superpower: After 120 years of disappearing from the records and becoming extinct, it has “come back from the dead”.
Have you heard of Lazarus species? Named after the man in the Bible story who is said to have raised Jesus from the dead, these are species that reappear after being considered extinct. The story of Gilbert’s potoru is one of Australia’s most extraordinary.
Gilbert’s potoroe is a small kangaroo-like marsupial with a thick, soft brown-gray coat, a long, slender, slightly down-curved nose, and front paws with powerful claws to dig for the truffle-like fungi that make up 94% of its diet. John Gould scientifically described it in 1841 based on a specimen and notes by the naturalist John Gilbert (hence the name). Gilbert reported that it occupied the “spearwood and slender vegetation around swamps and flowing streams” and was “the constant companion” of the quokka (the smiling marsupial of Rottnest Island’s selfie fame).
It was recorded a few more times until the 1870s and then disappeared. By 1909 it was thought to be extinct – gone, apparently forever, with very little known.
Surveys looking for Gilbert’s potoroos along WA’s south coast in 1975-76 found many quokkas, but no potoroos. In 1994, a team researching quokkas in Two Peoples Bay spent more than a week without catching one, only to unexpectedly capture an unknown species that turned out to be the supposedly extinct Gilbert’s potoroo!
The excitement was intense, but so was the fear. Gilbert’s potoroo lived in dense, very tall unburnt vegetation – and a single catastrophic wildfire could wipe out the small rediscovered population. Attempts at captive breeding were unsuccessful, so from 2005 the focus shifted to carefully creating “safe haven” populations using Two Peoples Bay animals as founders. Over the next few years, populations were established on Bald Island and in a gated enclosure in Waychinicup National Park.
In 2015, the dreaded wildfire, ignited by lightning, burned more than 90% of Gilbert’s potoroe habitat in Two Peoples Bay, leaving only a handful of survivors. After the fire, a new “safe haven” population was created on Middle Island off the coast of Esperance, but to give the species the best chance of long-term survival, it is critical that a new population be established urgently. the mainland is established.
The location for this new population requires a year-round supply of truffle-like fungi, dense vegetation for shelter, adequate control of foxes and cats, and the capacity for substantial population expansion.
As an almost exclusive truffle eater, Gilbert’s potoroo plays a critical role in ecosystem health and the impact of its loss on vegetation communities is not yet understood.
We have been given a second chance to protect this beautiful species and enable it to continue its work by digging the ground, eating truffles and spreading their spores, thus preserving the health of its habitat in the future. help protect. With a known population of only 100-120 individuals, it is the world’s rarest marsupial and needs all the help we can give it to survive.
Gilbert’s potoroo has already been nearly lost once – let’s make sure it never really dies out.
We started with over 300 mammals; here are the last four:
Mountain pygmy opossum (Burramys parvus)
This alpine darling may be hibernating, but that didn’t stop him from climbing to the top of the Hello Possums category and in the race for Mammal of the Year.
Dingo (canis dingo or Canis familiaris)
Australia’s charismatic yet controversial native dog took first place in the Rock Stars category in a landslide with a whopping 35% of the vote!
Think carefully about your choice, because you can only vote once per round!
Southern Curved Wing Bat (Miniopterus orianae bassanii)
An incredible wave of last minute votes in the Brilliant Bats category caused a surprising switcheroo; the southern curved-wing bat that flies ahead of the spectacled flying fox with 36% of the votes and enters the Top 10.
Rakali or Australian Water Rat (Hydromys chrysogaster)
The miraculous water rat emerged victorious, and without stiff competition from the rest of the Rollicking Rodents, crossing the finish line with a healthy 32% of the vote.
How does voting work?
“But how does voting work?” you may ask. Don’t worry, it’s super simple.
Voting is now open for the Top 4 (starting at noon AEST Sunday, August 21) and will be open at 10 p.m. – tomorrow, Monday, August 22, at 10 a.m. AEST.
Then, at noon AEST, we’ll announce the mammal that received the fewest votes and is out of the running.
We reset the total to zero and reopen the voting for the Final 3.
Each day we will languish at the list of our most fantastic mammals, until the last two remaining are announced on Tuesday, August 23.
With two days of open voting, we will finally put the debate to rest (at least this year) and crown Australia’s Mammal of the Year on Thursday 25th August!
Vote here for your choice in the Top 4: