There are many activists, scientists and volunteers working to preserve our planet and its inhabitants. Conservation foundations including our own Animal Talk Foundation work tirelessly towards the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of Australian wildlife back into safe and thriving regions around Australia. So this month I wish to highlight the success that comes from conservation. The Greater Bilby is a species iconic for endangered and extinct Australian animals. Less than 20% of wild Bilby populations live in feral-free sanctuaries in New South Wales and South Australia. The Australian Wildlife Conservancy has successfully reintroduced Bilbies into the Mt Gibson feral-free sanctuary in Western Australia. This is a momentous milestone for the species, proving that the efforts of conservation are well worth fighting for.The Greater Bilby is a nationally threatened species.
- The Bilby has disappeared from more than 80% of its former range.
- The current Bilby population is estimated to be less than 10,000 animals, clinging to survival in mostly remote and isolated colonies in arid Australia.
- The Bilby population continues to decline – the greatest threat to the Bilby is feral cats and foxes.
- Around 15% of the wild Bilby population lives on AWC properties (Scotia, Yookamurra and now Mt Gibson) in large feral-cat free areas.
- The December 2016 translocation of 16 Bilbies from Scotia (NSW) to Mt Gibson (WA) is historic because it represents the return of the species to south-western Australia after an absence of several decades. Mt Gibson contains the largest feral predator-free area on mainland Western Australia.
- AWC projects, including Mt Gibson, are set to increase the Bilby population by 70% (7,000 animals) over the next 5 – 10 years.
After months of planning and preparation, AWC ecologists and volunteers at Scotia successfully caught a number of Bilbies through the use of cage-traps, spot-lighting and hand-netting. The animals underwent a health check and had a small radio-transmitter attached to their tails to allow their movements to be monitored post release at their new home.