On January 6, 2017, the Minister for Environment declared the Western Ringtail possum, nguara as being Critically Endangered, uplisted from the previous listing of 'Endangered'. Under section 14(4) of the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950, four mammals, including the western ringtailed possum, woylie, brush-tailed bettong, Gilbert's potoroo, central rock rat, antina were listed as critically endangered.
Critically endangered means these mammels are rare or likely to become extinct. Species moved from vulnerable to critically endangered list after numbers dropped by 80% over 10 years to about 8,000 in just three isolated pockets in south-west Western Australia. Western ringtail possum's endangered status is blamed on feral cats and foxes, frequent fires from prescribed burning, poisoning by rat and snail bait and habitat destruction as land is cleared for housing developments.
Mr Falconer (FAWNA president) said based on the numbers collected and studied by FAWNA, (Fostering and Assistance for Wildlife Needing Aid. Based in the south west of Western Australia) the group predicted the species had less than 10 years before it became extinct. Mr Falconer says “The only way to come back from the brink of disaster is if the Government finds some land for a reserve and creates a breeding area for them. There needs to be money spent and reserves protected by fences created.”
Planting peppermint trees, putting water on fences, and keeping cats and dogs inside at night is one way we can all help.
Western Ringtail Possums are nocturnal and sleep in leafy nests in tree-holes during the day. The actual gestation period of Western Ringtail Possums is not known. Births mostly take place in winter. Young emerge at about three months and suckle until six to seven months.
We have Western Ringtail Possums living at HideAway Haven. We don't see them very often, but they have been known to sit in our Peppermint trees and watch out guests come and go during the night. Phoebe is our rescued possum cared and reared by our daughter and released by us at HideAway Haven. We hear her as she chats to us at night if we are outsde. Too cute :-)