SYDNEY, June 14 (Xinhua) -- A key Western Australian quokka population is once again soaring after catastrophic wildfires in 2015 tore through 100,000 hectares of the cuddly creature's habitat.
Previously, around 500 marsupials lived in the Northcliff area, 350 km south of Perth. After the blaze, however, the figure fell by more than 90 percent to just 39.
But on Thursday, World Wildlife Fund Australia's species conservation manager Merril Halley told local media that things are looking up for the photogenic animals.
"We've just repeated the surveys that we did in the first year following the fires so across 126 sites," she said.
"Now we can estimate that there's at least over 300 individuals across the north-west fire area which is fantastic."
"I think it's good news, given the extent of the fire and the severity of the fire, that quokkas have been able to recolonize the area really quickly."
With population numbers in decline across most parts of mainland Western Australia, the State's Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions has moved to protect the species since the fire, by increasing it's baiting programs targeted toward invasive predators like foxes.
On Western Australia's renowned tourism mecca Rottnest Island however, where renowned tennis player Roger Federer famously snapped a "selfie" with an adorable smiling quokka, numbers of the species are abundant, as the island is free of foxes.
Due to the large number of visitors every year that hand-feed the animals, Rottnest Island quokkas have become much more comfortable around humans compared to their mainland relatives.
"People not only don't know they're here (on the mainland), but they don't know that we've seen a huge decline in quokkas because of habitat and because of predators," Halley said.
"They are actually a lot more genetically diverse than the Rottnest quokka, even though they are quite likeable for their selfie opportunities."