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Western Plains Zoo sanctuary to aid Bilby conservation

Western Plains Zoo sanctuary to aid Bilby conservation
September 21, 2017

Dubbo’s Taronga Western Plains Zoo has commenced development of a 110-hectare breeding sanctuary for the Greater Bilby in a bid to re-introduce the creatures back into the wild in late 2019.

Seen as a significant step in the Wild Deserts project, the plan aims to bring back seven locally extinct mammals to Sturt National Park which hasn’t been seen for more than a century in NSW.

Introducing the program, NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton stated “the breeding sanctuary is an extraordinary development that will make a nationally significant contribution to wildlife and environmental conservation.

“This sanctuary shows why NSW is well on its way to becoming a global centre of excellence in wildlife conservation and education.”

Next year 10 Greater Bilbies will be introduced to the sanctuary following the installation of fencing and clearing of feral predators.

UNSW scientist and Director for the UNSW Centre for Ecosystem Science Professor Richard Kingsford, the Wild Deserts project lead, said that the Wild Deserts project was a ground-breaking conservation opportunity.

Professor Kingsford stated “the Greater Bilby is a delicate but vital desert survivor. By digging for insects, seeds and plant roots, they help water and carbon infiltrate the soil, which in turn will trigger a restoration of Sturt National Park’s desert ecosystems.

“By restoring the native wildlife over the next 10 years, we will turn the desert around.”

The Wild Deserts project is a partnership between the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, the University of NSW Sydney and Ecological Horizons, in collaboration with Taronga Conservation Society Australia. The Greater Bilby breeding sanctuary at Taronga Western Plains Zoo has been made possible through a major philanthropic donation to the Taronga Foundation.

The Greater Bilby breeding sanctuary is part of a NSW Government $41.3 million Rewilding project. The Australian Wildlife Conservancy and UNSW are also reintroducing locally extinct mammals, including Greater Bilbies from the sanctuary, into Mallee Cliffs National Park and the Pilliga State Conservation Area.

Australian Wildlife Conservancy Chief Executive Atticus Fleming added “this is one of the world’s most significant biodiversity reconstruction projects – it aims to turn back the tide of mammal extinctions in Australia.”

Main image courtesy of Rick Stevens.

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30th November 2015 - TARONGA ZOO AND TARONGA WESTERN PLAINS ZOO RECOGNISED AT NSW TOURISM AWARDS 

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