Posted on 19/10/2015 by Phillip Island Nature Parks
Final four bandicoots released onto Churchill Island
Four Eastern Barred Bandicoots were released onto Churchill Island on Friday 16 October, completing the trial release of Eastern Barred Bandicoots that began in August.
The remaining four bandicoots of the trial were released by Phillip Island Nature Parks researchers and joined the eight male and eight female bandicoots that have called Churchill Island home since August.
“The bandicoots released on Friday night were all females in order to balance the sex ratio on Churchill Island and to maximise effective population size,” explained Duncan Sutherland, Philip Island Nature Parks Deputy Research Manager.
“They were captured at Mount Rothwell Biodiversity Interpretation Centre on Thursday night, then vet checked, given parasite treatment, microchipped, and genetically tested before release. This ensures their best chance for survival and confirms their genetic relationship with the other Eastern Barred Bandicoots on Churchill Island.”
The release was supported by staff from Mt Rothwell Biodiversity Interpretation Centre and the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team made up of representatives from Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Mount Rothwell Biodiversity Interpretation Centre, Parks Victoria, Phillip Island Nature Parks, Zoos Victoria, Conservation Volunteers Australia and The University of Melbourne.
And it is hoped that the new arrivals will fit in as well as the original sixteen. “The existing population on Churchill is going really well,” says Duncan. “Our monitoring shows that they have been moving around the whole island and are in excellent condition. They are already breeding as we have recorded pouch young and young at foot.”
Considered extinct in the wild on the mainland since 1991, this small marsupial has been surviving behind predator-proof fences designed to keep them safe from foxes and feral cats. Thanks to Phillip Island Nature Parks’ efforts over the past 10 years to ensure Churchill Island is fox and feral-cat free, the 57-hectare island in Victoria’s east is considered to be an ideal habitat for Eastern Barred Bandicoots.
The trial release is part of a wider program aimed at saving the Eastern Barred Bandicoot from extinction, including a $146,800 gene pool widening project that will mix captive-bred Eastern Barred Bandicoots from Victoria with individuals from the Tasmanian sub-species to increase genetic diversity amongst the Victorian population, which has suffered due to their critically low population size.
Follow regular updates on the Churchill Island bandicoots at www.penguins.org.au