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Australian native mammals to be reintroduced to NSW

Australian native mammals to be reintroduced to NSW
June 6, 2015

A new NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service partnership will see designated national parks fenced off and feral animals exterminated to allow Bilbys, Numbats, and Western Barred Bandicoots to flourish.

The initiative, being run in partnership with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) and the Wildlife Restoration and Management Partnership led by the University of NSW, will also see Australian native mammals not seen in NSW for over 100 years reintroduced to the wild.

Introducing the program, NSW Environment Minister Mark Speakman said it was the largest reintroduction program attempted by any government in Australia, stating "we are determined to halt the decline in our native species, and this project will go some way towards rectifying the species loss in NSW since European settlement.”

AWC Director Tim Flannery called the project “one of the greatest mammal conservation initiatives ever undertaken in Australia.”

Australia has the world’s worst mammal extinction rate, with 29 land mammals having become extinct over the last 200 years and over 50 facing extinction.

Many small-to-medium sized mammals whose numbers are in serious decline can only be found in small pockets of the country or on offshore islands.

AWC Chief Executive Atticus Fleming called the Australian landscape a “marsupial ghost town” and said it was no longer enough to simply try to protect these tiny populations. Fleming stated that instead it was time to “turn back the tide of extinction”.

He added "species like Bilbies and Numbats, they are iconic animals most school kids would know of but haven’t seen in a national park for 100 years.

"The animals that are the very essence of Australian bush identity have disappeared.”

Fleming said in the cases of the Bridled Nailtail Wallaby and Western Barred Bandicoot they plan to double population numbers, and in six other species see a 15-100% increase.

There are only 2,500 remaining Bridled Nailtail Wallabies and 3,000 Western Barred Bandicoots in the wild.

Fleming explained “if you look forward in five or six years time, the NSW government will be able to take 10 animals off the extinction list. I don’t think any other jurisdiction in the world has done that.”

One of the two projects by the AWC will be 10,000 hectares – much larger than the average 8,000 hectares of a national park. A fence to be erected will keep larger animals out and serve as a fox and cat-free zone.

Fleming said the introduction of feral cats has had a devastating impact on Australia’s native mammals, killing “tens of millions of animals” each night.

He added "there are four to twenty million feral cats in the country and certainly all of the studies show they’re eating at least five animals a night.”

The conservation zones will be located in western NSW, which historical studies indicate were once home to the species being reintroduced.

The foxes and cats will be killed using soft jaw traps, baiting and shootings, after which the native mammals, to be taken from AWC reserves and Queensland national parks, will be reintroduced.

Mike Letnic, an environmental scientist at the University of New South Wales, said the project will also restore lost predators such as the Western Quoll, which maintain the balance of nature.

Letnic stated "if you don’t have any predators, herbivores can get out of control and graze too much. This begins to damage the soil and habitat for other animals.”

The projects will launch later this year with the reintroduction of species to follow in 2018.

Images show the Western Barred Bandicoot (above) and the Bridled Nailtail Wallaby (below).

11th January 2015 - NSW GOVERNMENT FUNDING TO PROTECT THREATENED NATIVE SPECIES

20th August 2014 - FEDERAL GOVERNMENT APPOINTS COMMISSIONER FOR THREATENED SPECIES 

20th April 2014 - ROYAL COUPLE OPEN TARONGA ZOO BILBY EXHIBIT

13th May 2012 - FEDERAL FUNDING FOR PROTECTION OF NSW KOALAS 


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