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Bouncing back from the brink

28 March 2018

It’s thanks to the shelter of some car wrecks at the Hamilton tip and the hard work of so many dedicated conservationists that the critically endangered Eastern Barred Bandicoots haven’t vanished forever.

Fondly known as 'EBBs', these small nocturnal marsupials had difficulty in adjusting to changes in their native grasslands landscape as well as the new threats from introduced predators.

Housing developments, agriculture, and other manmade changes reduced their grassy woodlands habitat, and the introduced rabbits became competitors.

The last wild EBB population managed to escape feral cats and foxes by hiding in the tip in the 1980s, and since 1991 Zoos Victoria experts working with a wide coalition of colleagues have managed to increase EBB numbers to the point where groups can now be released into safe habitats.

Strictly speaking, the species is officially classified as extinct in the wild, but released individuals are showing very positive signs of adjusting to their protected sites.

This sensational species survival success story is now the focus of a new children’s book, ‘Bouncing Back: An Eastern Barred Bandicoot Story, published by the CSIRO.

Melbourne Zoo Keeper Rohan Cleave has written the inspiring story to show children how important it is not to give up hope when a situation seems so dire, because it can be possible to have outstanding results even in discouraging circumstances.

The EBB Recovery Program brings together a wide variety of organisations that have all contributed to the success so far.

The Recovery Team includes: Conservation Volunteers Australia, Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning; Mt. Rothwell Biodiversity Interpretation Centre; National Trust of Australia; Parks Victoria; Phillip Island Nature Parks; The University of Melbourne; Tiverton Property Partners and Zoos Victoria.

Rohan Cleave is also the author of ‘Phasmid’, which was the first children’s book ever published by the CSIRO.

‘Phasmid’ tells another remarkable rescue story: the world’s most endangered insect, which vanished from its home on Lord Howe Island and was thought extinct for decades until it was sensationally rediscovered on Ball’s Pyramid.

Both books have been superbly illustrated by award-winning artist Coral Tulloch.

‘Bouncing Back’ and ‘Phasmid’ are both available in Zoos Victoria shops and in the online shop.