Environment

Bandicoot back from brink

Zoos Victoria photo: Eastern Barred Bandicoot

One of the state’s most endangered native animals has been brought back from the brink of extinction. The re-establishment of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot on Phillip Island is the first time in Victorian history a species declared extinct in the wild has had its decline successfully reversed.

The Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team released 67 bandicoots on to Phillip Island in 2017 – that number has now grown to around 300. That means scientists may soon downgrade the species’ threat status.

The Eastern Barred Bandicoot was wiped out in Victoria more than 30 years ago by a combination of foxes and habitat loss, and has only existed in sanctuaries on the mainland or in captive breeding programs. Since the release program began and Phillip island was declared fox free, the bandicoots have not only increased in number but their microchips reveal they have spread at least four kilometres from the original release site.

The Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team, which includes representatives from Phillip Island Nature Parks, Zoos Victoria, DELWP and Parks Victoria received financial backing from the Victorian Government.

They first released 20 of the marsupials onto Churchill Island back in 2015 – that number has now grown to 130. A further 55 bandicoots were released onto French Island last year. With around 300 now at Phillip Island, that brings the total number in the wild to almost 500.

Efforts are also continuing in other parts of Victoria to restore population, particularly in the west.

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