After being successfully reintroduced into the wild, the Bandicoots are no longer extinct. The eastern barred bandicoot’s threatened-species classification has been altered from ‘extinct in the wild’ to ‘endangered’ in Australia for the first time.
Lily D’Ambrosio, Victoria’s Environment Minister, announced the reclassification recently, saying the state’s eastern barred bandicoot population now has a far better future.
The nocturnal species was formerly abundant over southwest Victoria’s grassy plains, but it has been devastated by foxes, cats, and habitat loss.
The final wild population was limited to a region near Hamilton, with around 150 left in 1989.
Over the last three decades, multi-million dollar captive breeding and re-wilding programs have brought the mainland Australian population back to an estimated 1,500, removing it from the state’s list of ‘extinct in the wild’. A closely similar sub-species may also be found in Tasmania’s southern island, where it is listed as threatened.
The news is a rare conservation victory in Australia, which environmentalists claim has the world’s highest rate of animal extinction.
Efforts then shifted to improving the living conditions for these adorable but apparently delicious prey animals, with teams establishing four predator-free zones at Woodlands Historic Park, Hamilton Community Parklands, Mt Rothwell, and Tiverton, where wild bandicoots could live without fear of becoming dinner.
Some lucky bandicoots even took a vacation to wander freely on the fox-free islands of Phillip, Churchill, and French, where bandicoots are said to be prospering. All of these locations have produced an estimated 1,500 animals, allowing Australia to alter the species classification.
According to World Wildlife Fund Australia, the country has the world’s highest extinction rate. The gruesome award is maybe predictable in the aftermath of enormous wildfires in 2019-20, the smoke from which created a phytoplankton bloom larger than the continent, but the joyful story of this tiny bandicoot illustrates that future losses can be avoided with a little elbow grease.
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