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Largest release of Endangered Eastern Barred Bandicoots onto Phillip Island
Zoos Victoria is celebrating the largest release of Eastern Barred Bandicoots onto the Summerland Peninsula on Phillip Island. The release commenced on Friday 20 October, kicking off with 44 individuals and will continue over the coming weeks with up to 80 individuals destined to settle into their new fox-free island home.
The release marks the largest introduction into an unfenced site, following the successful trial on Churchill Island and the support of Phillip Island Nature Parks.
The mainland Eastern Barred Bandicoot (EBB) is currently listed as ‘extinct in the wild’ due to habitat loss and predation by introduced foxes. In 1991, Zoos Victoria commenced management of a captive breeding program with the support of dedicated partners and the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team.
In 2015, a trial release of 20 EBBs was conducted on Churchill Island to evaluate the suitability of local conditions and establish community support. This population increased to approximately 120 individuals in two years. The elusive animal even proved to have a positive impact on the environment, with studies finding their introduction reduced soil compaction and improved nutrient and water infiltration. The Recovery Team were delighted with the outcomes of the Churchill Island trial, providing impetus and confidence for the release on Phillip Island.
“After 26 years managing the captive breeding program, we are hopeful the release of EBBs onto Phillip Island will boost the wild population beyond fenced sites across Victoria. Together with the passion and commitment of our partners we look forward to moving closer to our goal of recovering the mainland EBB,” Dr Jenny Gray, CEO of Zoos Victoria said.
Zoos Victoria acknowledges the amazing support of our partners and the Recovery Team, including 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 and Tiverton Property Partnering.