Conservation ecology of Greater Bilby: survival, reproductive success and movement ecology in a breeding sanctuary in NSW
The Greater Bilby is an iconic, threatened marsupial that was once widespread throughout arid and semi-arid Australia, including NSW. Due to habitat loss and introduced predators and herbivores, the Greater Bilby has been locally extinct in NSW for more than a century.
Taronga Conservation Society Australia has established a 110-hectare breeding sanctuary for the Greater Bilby at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo. The area is fully fenced and is being cleared of predators and competing herbivores such as cats, foxes and rabbits prior to the initial introduction of Greater Bilbies to the sanctuary in 2019. As part of a PhD project, Taronga and collaborators at the University of NSW will investigate the movement ecology, diet, survival and reproductive success of Greater Bilby after release into the Taronga Western Plains Zoo breeding sanctuary. Founder bilbies will be from multiple source populations (zoo-managed, semi-wild and wild) and are introduced to the sanctuary with fitted telemetry devices to allow their movements, behaviour, survival and reproductive success to be determined.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s sanctuary is a research and breeding site that will provide information on the management of the Bilbies as the program works to reintroduce them into the wild at multiple release sites.The first Taronga sanctuary-bred Bilbies will be destined for release into Sturt National Park, as part of the Wild Deserts’ project, in the arid north-western corner of NSW. This project also aims to reintroduce another six species, including the Burrowing Bettong, Crest-tailed Mulgara, Western Barred Bandicoot, Golden Bandicoot, Stick-nest Rat and Western Quoll to help restore the desert. Find out more about the collaborative Wild Deserts project and the release of bilbies to Sturt National Park. And look at their exciting new initiative to build a massive new Wild Training Zone for these reintroduced species, requiring funding for fencing, explained in this video and their donations page.
The sanctuary project will also support the national recovery of the species and animals bred will be released to additional national parks under the Office of Environment and Heritage’s Reintroduction of Locally Extinct Mammals Project.