Bandicoot species ‘back from the brink’
The Eastern Barred Bandicoot populated the grassy plains of Victoria state’s southwest until it was all but obliterated by non-native foxes, feral cats and habitat destruction. By 1989, there were just 150 animals left in the region, mostly scrounging an existence in rusted-out cars at a rubbish dump. Over the past three decades, multi-million dollar captive breeding and rewilding programmes have revived the mainland Australian population to an estimated 1,500 – bumping it off the state’s “extinct in the wild” list. “We are excited to announce the change in conservation status for the Eastern Barred Bandicoot from extinct in the wild to endangered – it is an incredible first for Australia,” Victoria state Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said. A closely related sub-species can also be found on the southern island of Tasmania, where it is classified as vulnerable. The announcement is a rare conservation win in Australia, which environmentalists say has the world’s worst mammal extinction rate.