A few weeks ago, I read in The Age that Eastern-Barred Bandicoots are being released into a predator proof exclosure at Woodlands Historic Park near the Melbourne Airport (bandicoots head back to the wild). Re-introductions are critical for the persistence of many species that have had their habitat transformed by agriculture (as has happened to the grassland and woodland habitats of the EBB), or where feral predators have obliterated the last of the wild populations.
The introduction of bandicoots into the grassy woodlands (itself an endangered ecosystem) at Woodlands is not new - there have been various attempts to establish a population at this site since the 1980s - and as far as I am aware, there has been only limited success. The causes for failure, unfortunately, have not been well understood, but it would appear that failure has not always been due to predation by feral animals such as foxes. Weight-loss after release (Long et al) and drought (Winnard & Coulsen) have contributed to the failure observed, yet in 2011, more animals are being released behind an expensive (to build and maintain) fence.
|Predator-proof fencing at the Arid Recovery Centre|
|Native grasslands on the Werribee Plains likely |
to become part of the new Western Grassland Reserve
(Photo: John Morgan)