For more than 30 years, Australia’s endangered Eastern Barred Bandicoot has been considered extinct in the wild. Now, following years of painstaking conservation efforts, the marsupial has become the first Australian species to have its conservation status changed.
The nocturnal, rabbit-sized creature was once a common sight in mainland Australia, but that changed as foxes and habitat destruction pushed the species to the brink of extinction.
Determined to change the mammal’s bleak existential trajectory, conservationists managed to restore its population from just 150 animals 30 years ago to about 1,500 today.
According to the BBC, it is the first time that Australia has changed the status of an animal from “extinct” in the wild to “endangered.”
After learning that the population levels of the bandicoots plunged in the state of Victoria, conservationists invested millions of dollars in setting up captive breeding programs. As part of the effort, they also designated predator-free sites — some of which were protected by specially trained dogs — and moved some of the marsupials to islands without foxes.
The good news offers “hope that with persistence, determination and the support of government, volunteers and communities, we can win the fight against extinction,” said threatened species biologist at Zoos Victoria in Melbourne, Amy Coetsee.