It’s so rare that we get any good news these days, but cute animals are always sure to put a smile on your face. Last week’s heart-warming headline came in the form of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot, which has officially been brought back from the brink of extinction.
These small nocturnal marsupials have been classed as extinct in the wild for over 30 years because of a decline in numbers resulting from a loss of habitat and predators like foxes and cats.
Thankfully, the bandicoots are back due to the continued efforts of wildlife conservation programs.
Eastern Barred Bandicoots nose their way back in
The conservation status of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot has officially been changed from extinct in the wild to endangered. (For the record, Crash Bandicoot is also an Eastern Barred Bandicoot, so now both icons can live on forever.)
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio officially announced the news on September 15, 2021.
“We are excited to announce the change in conservation status for the Eastern Barred Bandicoot from extinct in the wild to endangered – it is an incredible first for Australia.
This success is due to the efforts of every member of the recovery team. Community volunteers have played a big role at many of the reintroduction sites, helping check fences, count bandicoots and remove weeds and pests.”
It was estimated in 1989 that only 150 Eastern Barred Bandicoots remained.
A recovery team dedicated to the survival of the species was soon formed and established a number of fenced re-introduction sites in Victoria.
Thanks to the combined efforts of these teams and captive breeding programs, the protected sites are now home to an estimated 1500 Eastern Barred Bandicoots.
Threatened species biologist Amy Coetsee told the ABC that the bandicoots have a remarkable breeding rate and knack for adaptation.
“They breed quickly. They have a 12-and-a-half day pregnancy so they can have up to five litters a year. And they’re also really adaptable to different habitat conditions and when we release them, we don’t have to do any supplementary feeding, they will eat anything and everything they come across.”
This milestone marks the first time an Australian species has had its conservation status reclassified from extinct in the wild.
As a result, Zoos Victoria is able to end its 30-year captive breeding program, which played a part in bolstering the bandicoot’s numbers.
So, the next time the news gets you down, just remember there are over 1000 happy bandicoots nosing their way around the wilds of Australia.