• Feral predator-proof fence built in Mallee Cliffs national park. Photograph: Wayne Lawler/AWC
    Feral predator-proof fence built in Mallee Cliffs national park. Photograph: Wayne Lawler/AWC
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Major Source :The Guardian's Lisa Cox

It’s been more than a century since bilbies have been seen in NSW, but an effort by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC), in partnership with the NSW government, has made history with thirty of the much loved Australian marsupials relocated from Thistle Island off the coast of South Australia. 

Protected by a the largest predator free enclosure of it’s kind in the southern hemisphere, the 37.2km purpose-built fence has created an area of 9,570 hectares which will be cleared of predators such as feral cats and foxes. While the bigger area is still being emptied of predators, the bilbies will have 480 hectares to explore. 

All this is part of a larger project that will hopefully see another nine regionally extinct species such as numbats and western quolls reintroduced to the national park.

Laurence Berry, a wildlife ecologist with the AWC, said the purpose of the enclosure was to try to boost the population of the species in both the short and longer term.

“In the short term, it helps to just safeguard the species by establishing a population,” he said.

“In the long term, it’s about creating a new population that’s genetically different to the existing populations, this gives them resilience into the long term.”

He said projects like predator-free fences were being used because longer-term solutions to eradicate feral animals were still being developed.

Berry said the enclosure covered a huge area and, while it was still very early days, the bilbies seemed to be adjusting well to their new environment.

(A federal Senate inquiry is currently examining Australia’s high rates of fauna extinction. An interim report by the committee, produced before the May election, called for an overhaul of Australia’s environment law – the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

A statutory review of the EPBC Act, which is undertaken every 10 years, is due to commence this month.)





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