Good news everyone! The golden bandicoot has been reintroduced to the wilderness of Sturt National Park, NSW, an area where the species has been absent for a century.
It was thanks to a partnership between UNSW scientists and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service that the vulnerable and previously locally extinct golden bandicoot was able to return to the wilderness.
“From museum specimens and subfossil records, we know that the golden bandicoot lived here in Sturt National Park, but it has been locally extinct for over 100 years,” says Doctor Reece Pedler the coordinator of the wild deserts project.
“Wildcats, foxes, rabbits and changes in grazing pressure drove them to extinction. Now that they’re gone, we have a great opportunity to bring them back.
Forty golden bandicoots were returned to Sturt National Park last month. There are also plans to return several other species to Central Australia.
Look at these little angels, they are so cute. Like a mix between an anteater, a mouse and a guinea pig. So small.
Although they have been released into one of their natural habitats, scientists and conservationists will still need to keep a close eye on them. So, the solution: radio-tracking!
“We use breathable tape to attach a 2-gram radio transmitter to the tail of each bandicoot so we can monitor them after they’re released,” said Dr. Rebecca West, lead ecologist for Wild Deserts.
“This will give us some really important insights into how the bandicoots will settle over the next two months.”
The golden bandicoot was originally driven from its habitat by a series of factors, including introduced species and changes in grazing, ultimately contributing to its status as a “vulnerable” species today.
It’s a bit of a wonderful animal. Described by West as “ecosystem engineers”, golden bandicoots dig for seeds, insects, tubers and fungi, turning the soil over as they go and aiding in plant growth and the cycle of nutrients.
“Their absence from the desert ecosystem was definitely missed,” West added.
“They also take advantage of good conditions and are able to reproduce throughout the year.”
The golden bandicoot has been observed doing well in similar habitat at Sturt National Park, indicating that this reintroduction may be successful.
This is the ninth species to be reseeded in New South Wales. Sturt National Park is predator-free, which means the golden bandicoot will thrive without having to worry about animals eating it.
You can read more about the golden bandicoot’s return to the desert here.