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Posted on 21/05/2021 by Phillip Island Nature Parks

NATURE PARKS SAVING ENDANGERED SPECIES 

As the world recognises Endangered Species Day on Friday 21 May, Phillip Island Nature Parks is proud to play our role in assisting to bring species back from the brink of extinction.

Eastern barred bandicoots (EBBs) are one of Australia’s most endangered mammals and in 2015, a small population of about 20 captive-bred EBBs was released onto fox-free and feral cat-free Churchill Island – just off the coast of Phillip Island.
In 2017, with the declaration that Phillip Island was also now fox-free, a second population of 67 individuals was released onto the Summerland Peninsula.

This endangered species continues to thrive and is effectively now living as a wild population after being declared extinct in the wild across the rest of the state.

Nature Parks researchers monitor the population with the help of volunteers who have now contributed more than 3,100 hours, assisting in over 3,000 ‘captures and releases’ across both Churchill and Phillip Islands.

“We are seeing many signs of success from this Eastern barred bandicoot program, with the population thriving, and beginning to distribute more widely across the island,” said Phillip Island Nature Parks’ Threatened Species Officer, Thomas Nixon.

“We have received verified sightings of EBBs in Newhaven, Cape Woolamai, Surf Beach and even near Pyramid Rock, all outside their initial release zones of Churchill Island and Summerland Peninsula, so locals can expect to see bandicoots in their neighbourhoods and backyards in the near future, which is great news for our ecosystem.”

A recent study of the digging behaviour of the Eastern barred bandicoots on Churchill Island demonstrated their importance in the environment by acting as ecosystem engineers, as they turn over soil in their tiny, conical shaped digs each night, searching for food like insects and worms.

“Phillip Island Nature Parks is committed to protecting the island as an ark for endangered plants and animals through its Threatened Species Plan, and we are especially grateful for the role the community plays in helping to protect endangered species.”

A good example is the breeding success of the threatened shorebirds, Hooded plovers. The community has worked together to all play a part in their ongoing survival with simple acts like putting dogs on a leash, or keeping cats indoors, making a world of difference.

A total of 11 Hooded plover chicks fledged in the 2020-21 breeding season and many of these birds will go on to live on beaches across Victoria effectively making Phillip Island a source population for the state.

“The time to act for Endangered Species is now and I am super proud that the Nature Parks is playing a role in protecting species for future generations.”

The top five ways to help Endangered Species:

1. Watch for wildlife when driving.
2. Be a responsible pet owner.
3. Recycle and buy sustainable products.
4. Plant native and make your garden and home wildlife friendly.
5. Never purchase products made from threatened or endangered species.

Phillip Island locals and visitors alike are being asked to report any bandicoot sightings (alive or dead) on the web portal at www.penguins.org.au/bandicoots, helping researchers to monitor and care for this endangered species.