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A boost to Bilby population numbers

— by Kate

On-ground action helps to increase population numbers of the critically endangered Bilby

Following our article in the Land for Wildlife November newsletter about the ‘Bilby Blitz’, an innovative survey program run by Indigenous rangers in northern WA and the NT, we are pleased to report more news of positive on-ground action to help save Bilbies from extinction.

The Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) and NSW National Parks have been working together to initiate the release of a number of Bilby’s into a 5,800-hectare feral predator-free fenced area in the Pilliga National Park, NSW. The rapid four month construction of the 32.1 km predator-proof fence earlier this year, will enable six locally extinct mammals to be reintroduced to the Pilliga: Bilby, Western Quoll, Western Barred Bandicoot, Brush-tailed Bettong, Bridled Nailtail Wallaby and Plains Mouse. The release of the Bilby spells the first of 13 species pegged for reintroduction into areas across NSW where they have become locally extinct, under the NSW Government’s 10-year ‘Save Our Species’ program.

Above: One of the first Bilbies to go back to a NSW national park after more than 100 years is released by NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton, AWC CEO Tim Allard and AWC Wildlife Ecologist Dr Greg Holland. Photo credit: Wayne Lawler/AWC

The Bilbies that were released in the Piliga were sourced from a Bilby population previously re-established by the AWC in a feral predator-free area at Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary in far western New South Wales. The last record of a Bilby in NSW was over 100 years ago in 1912. The establishment of new populations in western and central NSW just might be the forerunner for facilitating population connectivity with their Bilby counterparts in NT and WA. I know that may seem like a ‘pie-in-the-sky’ idea, but if I can encourage you to consider incorporating some Bilby habitat into your Land for Wildlife and Garden for Wildlife properties, then suitable habitat areas will already be established when that day (possibly) comes and Bilbies can move straight in! PLUS, making your property or garden Bilby-friendly will benefit a whole host of other native species that have similar requirements and you will automatically be increasing available habitat areas and biodiversity in the Alice Springs region.