Endangered bettong reintroduced in Australia after more than a century

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Environment 24 August 2021

By Alice Klein

A brush-tailed bettong jumps

Brush-tailed bettongs person been relocated from Wedge Island to the Yorke Peninsula successful South Australia

WWF-Australia / Juansimage.com

Brush-tailed bettongs are back. These tiny endangered marsupials person been reintroduced to mainland South Australia aft disappearing much than a period ago.

The bettong, besides known arsenic a woylie, erstwhile occupied much than 60 per cent of Australia, but were astir wiped retired erstwhile cats and foxes were introduced by Europeans. Only astir 15,000 are live today.

Until past week, the lone chaotic woylies near successful South Australia were connected predator-free islands. On 17 August, 12 antheral and 28 pistillate woylies were returned to mainland South Australia aft being flown successful from Wedge Island, which lies wrong the Turquoise Coast Island Nature Reserve.

The woylies were released successful an country called Yorke Peninsula, which contains ample tracts of autochthonal vegetation interspersed with farms and tiny towns. Three-quarters of the animals were fitted with radio-tracking collars truthful their advancement could beryllium monitored.

“They look to person settled successful rather good – immoderate are already dispersing from the merchandise site,” says Derek Sandow astatine the South Australian government’s Northern and Yorke Landscape Board.

To support the caller arrivals, rangers person removed arsenic galore foxes and feral cats arsenic imaginable from the peninsula and person enactment up a obstruction to make a 1,700 square-kilometre protected area.

If the woylie homecoming goes well, different locally extinct taxon similar the confederate brownish bandicoot, red-tailed phascogale and occidental quoll volition besides beryllium reintroduced to the country arsenic portion of a 20-year rewilding plan.

Woylies were the archetypal to beryllium released due to the fact that they are ungraded engineers that tin amended the situation for different species, says Sandow. They each excavation up tonnes of ungraded each twelvemonth portion searching for underground fungi, tubers, and different food, which helps to rhythm nutrients and disperse seeds. “We anticipation this volition heighten germination rates for autochthonal plants and heighten wide biodiversity,” says Sandow.

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