After eight years, a new population of Eastern Barred Bandicoots were returned to Woodlands Historic Park last week as part of the recovery project to save the species from extinction.
Woodlands was previously home to a large reintroduced population of about 600 bandicoots in the mid-1990s but the area became overun by kangaroos and foxes causing the bandicoots to become extinct in the area by 2005.
Zoos Victoria alongside project partners the Department of Environment and Primary Industry, Parks Victoria and Conservation Volunteers have worked hard to reintroduce the species back into Woodlands. The construction of a new fox-proof fence and the removal of foxes from within this protected area will provide a safe habitat and space for several hundred bandicoots in the future.
Zoos Victoria provided 16 healthy captive-born animals for the release, also providing veterinary checks for a further 16 animals sourced from free-ranging populations protected by predator-proof fences at Hamilton and Mt Rothwell.
All mainland Eastern Barred Bandicoots, currently listed as ‘extinct in the wild’, are descended from a group of animals bred at Melbourne Zoo in the early 1990s. Without the long-term commitment and care through Zoos Victoria's captive-breeding program, the mainland bandicoot would be lost forever.
The reintroduction of Eastern Barred Bandicoots to Woodlands is a significant step forward in the recovery of the species. Future releases of bandicoots to Woodlands are planned to assist population growth and maintain the genetic diversity with ongoing monitoring of the group also planned.
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