The Little Aussie Legends Facing Extinction
They’re as iconic to Australia as the koala or kangaroo.
Yet, without help, bilbies are facing almost certain extinction nationwide.
For two decades, Kevin Bradley and his organisation, the Save the Bilby Fund have made it their mission to ensure the marsupials are here for generations to come.
“The only reason they’re still here is that they are just so well adapted to this environment and they’re true survivors of the outback,” Mr Bradley told Ten Eyewitness News.
With help from wildlife organisations around the country, 13 bilbies from as far as Adelaide, Perth and Darwin have been shipped to Dreamworld on the Gold Coast, in preparation for their debut in the wild.
“They’re genetically chosen to have the best genetics possible to found a wild population of bilbies,” Bradley said.
Before they can be moved on, though, all 13 have undergone medical check-ups, led by Dreamworld vet, Dr Vere Nicholas.
“This will be the chance we get to have them knocked out and give them a real thorough going over,” Dr Nicholas said.
Each one is given a thorough examination while under anaesthetic.
“They’re pretty wriggly, kicky, wee guys when they’re awake. So you don’t really get a good examination without knocking them out,” Dr Nicholas told Ten Eyewitness News.
As well as a dental check, the bilbies are fitted with tracking devices, and given a unique haircut to make them easily identifiable.
“We’ve got samples and things to take from them so that they can be followed up after they’re released,” Dr Nicholas said.
Soon the animals will be moved to Charleville, before they’re slowly integrated into a purpose built, fenced facility at Currawinya National Park, to join a targeted breeding program.
Nationally bilbies are listed as vulnerable, while in Queensland they’re endangered, due in part to introduced predators like feral cats and red foxes.
“Absolutely catastrophically devastating,” Bradley said.
Once these bilbies are released into the wild for the first time, work will turn to the next generation being bred in captivity.