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Nature

Australia's Bilbies Bounce Back From the Brink of Extinction

Bilbies were nearing extinction when conservationists enrolled four of the little marsupials in breeding program in 2005. Luckily, the program has worked, with the population exploding to 42 bilbies.

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Two men, Peter McRae and Frank Manthey, are largely responsible for saving the species. Nicknamed the Bilby Brothers, they pushed to have the four little marsupials placed in an enclosure in Currawinya National Park. It was nothing but an experiment.

“I started off very cautiously, not really knowing if this was the right thing to do,” McRae said. “Six months ago I saw one, two or three bilbies a night on a 20-30km drive with the spotlight. But on this latest visit, in two nights I counted 42. A lot were young juveniles just out of the pouch, spread over the whole 29sq km area.”

McRae said that they’ll soon have to consider where they should release the animals into the wild.

“Now is the first time I have got solid evidence they are doing fine,” he said. “My aim was not just to have the things locked in a big enclosure but to get them back out into the wider landscape of that area. That is the next step.”

The Bilby Brothers have run all kinds of campaigns to protect the animals, including an effort to replace the Easter Bunny with the Easter Bilby. Rabbits are not native to Australia, but thrive at the expense of native creatures like the bilby.

Via: Courier Mail
Photo Credit: Richard.Fisher on Flickr under Creative Commons license.



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