New South Wales sees a bilby baby boom

Meet the tiny animals now thriving in New South Wales. Bilbies are Australian marsupials. They are small and…

Meet the tiny animals now thriving in New South Wales.

Bilbies are Australian marsupials. They are small and silky with ears like a rabbit and long noses. Hunting by foxes and cats meant that their populations were decimated over the course of the past two centuries.

But a conservation program has turned things around for the little creatures.

Dr. Laurence Berry, a wildlife ecologist, spoke to BBC about the program’s recent good news:

These are the first bilbies born in a national park in New South Wales for over 100 years.

Dr. Laurence Berry

In the fall of 2019, the program released bilbies into the Mallee Cliffs National Park. To ensure the bilbies would be safe from predators, the bilbies were released in a fenced section of the park spanning 9500 hectares—or about 23,475 acres.

Without any cats or foxes to hunt them, the bilbies are busy flourishing.

To make sure the bilbies are doing well, ecologists are routinely trapping the bilbies so they can check on their health and the population as a whole.

The health checks are showing promising results. They are finding that the bilbies are in great physical condition, and they are reproducing.

This is fantastic news for a species in jeopardy. The number of wild bilbies across Australia is estimated to be less than 10,000. In the 1950s, the lesser bilby went extinct; now, the only bilby species left is the greater bilby, and it is currently classified as vulnerable.

According to Dr. Laurence Berry, “Australia has one of the highest mammal extinction rates in the whole word.” With the greater bilby population making strides, hopefully this species will stay clear of the extinction list.

Ideally, the program’s long-term results are as good as its short-term results:

It shows that the reintroduction has been successful in the short term and the population is going in the right direction.

Dr. Laurence Berry

See the bilbies in action in BBC’s video.

Article source: BBC

Featured image source: Screen capture from video

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