Posted on 10/10/2017 by Phillip Island Nature Parks

Community jumps aboard the Island Ark

Phillip Island community members recently joined a series of information sessions about how we can all play a role in bringing the critically endangered Eastern Barred Bandicoot back from the brink of extinction.

The information sessions were held at Churchill Island, with information booths also being set up in Cowes and San Remo to spread the word about how we can live with bandicoots and all manner of wildlife. The mainland Eastern Barred Bandicoot (EBB) is listed as extinct in the wild, largely due to predation by foxes. Our best long-term opportunity to save this species from extinction is on large fox-free islands.

In August 2015, twenty EBBs were released onto Churchill Island as a trial to see whether they could establish and also to demonstrate to the local communities on Phillip and French Islands what living with bandicoots would be like. Under the watchful eyes of Phillip Island Nature Parks’ research staff, this population grew and has now stabilised at about 120 individuals.

The success of this trial, and the recent announcement of Phillip Island’s fox-free status, has led to a further release being planned for the Summerland Peninsula. This release will be managed by Phillip Island Nature Parks with support from the EBB Recovery Team, made up of representatives from Conservation Volunteers Australia, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Mt Rothwell Biodiversity Interpretation Centre, National Trust of Australia, Parks Victoria, Phillip Island Nature Parks, the University of Melbourne, Tiverton Property Partnering and Zoos Victoria.

“The Churchill Island trial has demonstrated that EBBs can successfully establish in island environments, and in fact have positive impacts on the land such as reduced soil compaction, and improved nutrient and water infiltration, with no observed negative effects,” said Phillip Island Nature Parks Deputy Research Manager, Dr Duncan Sutherland.

EBBs eat soil invertebrates such as beetle larvae and worms, surface invertebrates such as crickets and millipedes and some fallen fruit and onion grass bulbs. They do not graze or browse, nor do they dig burrows, and leave very little sign of their presence besides small conical foraging digs that are rarely more than five centimetres deep. There have been no reports of EBBs negatively impacting natural habitats.

“These information sessions have provided us with a wonderful opportunity to introduce community members to this nocturnal marsupial, as well as increase awareness and understanding of the roles we can all play in saving threatened species.”

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