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The Western Ringtail Possum (Pseudocheirus occidentalis) is a critically endangered arboreal marsupial that is only found in South Western Australia.
While once widespread from Perth to Albany, this species is now listed as critically endangered. It has been estimated that the remaining population size in the wild is less than 8,000 mature individuals, with a decreasing trend. Recent research predicts there is a 92% likelihood that they will be extinct within 20 years if action to protect populations and their habitat isn’t enacted immediately.
The Western Ringtail Possum occurs in the highest densities in coastal zones, where Peppermint trees (Agonis flexuosa) are a dominant species. Smaller populations occur within Jarrah Marri vegetation, including areas in the Margaret River region. Inland populations have been recorded in the Jarrah forests around Manjimup. Little is currently known about the abundance, distribution and habitat requirements of the species in the Margaret River Region.
Nature Conservation publications – Western Ringtail Possums and your Property and Western Ringtail Possums – Self Guided Spotlight Tips provide detailed information about how to view and help conserve this critically endangered species.
Nature Conservation in partnership with the Augusta Margaret River Shire is working to better understanding local ringtail populations, protect local habitats and raise community awareness and engagement in ringtail conservation. Nature Conservation has recently secured funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program through the South West Catchments Council for a five year program to assist conservation of the species. The Augusta Margaret River Shire is providing a local contribution to the conservation program through its Environmental Management Fund.
The current Western ringtail possum conservation program includes:
Surveys to better understand ringtail distribution and habitat requirements – a comprehensive survey of key habitat along the lower reaches of the Margaret River will be undertaken in early 2019 to determine priority areas for conservation and habitat enhancement; teams of citizen science volunteers are already out and about surveying at 12 locations on the Wadandi Track and in key bushland reserves; and an Annual Spring Possum Tally will provide vital information on where possums live in local gardens and properties across the region.
Habitat enhancement – 2.5 hectares of revegetation with native seedlings will be undertaken over the next 5 years to enhance local western ringtail possum habitats. Volunteers, school groups and local businesses will be encouraged to get involved in planting activities and make a difference to the strategic habitats that support Western ringtail possums.
Community awareness raising and engagement – activities include regular community spotlighting activities in local reserves, community presentations highlighting the conservation status of the Western ringtail possum and citizen science training events.
For more information or to get involved in Western ringtail possum citizen science activities contact Drew McKenzie at [email protected]