Four Australian mammals are bucking a worrying trend as they rebound from extinction in far western New South Wales.
A team of UNSW scientists celebrate the results of reintroducing bilbies, crest-tailed mulgaras, as well as bay sharks and golden bandicoots to Sturt National Park.
The program introduced the locally extinct species into fenced areas of the national park that had been cleared of wild predators, including cats and foxes.
Scientists have been amazed at how quickly populations of introduced species have increased.
The first animals to be moved to the area were a group of 19 crested-tailed mulgaras, a small carnivorous marsupial similar to quolls, in August 2020.
Since then, the number of mulgara has soared to between 160 and 240.
Bilbies, the first of their kind to live in the wild in New South Wales for more than 100 years, also benefit from the favorable conditions.
Of the 40 introduced between September 2020 and May 2021, the number of bilbys increased to 60 healthy ones.
Shark Bay and the reintroduced golden bandicoots are also thriving, with most females producing new litters.
“These findings are so important to the long-term goal of restoring this beautiful desert ecosystem to what it once was,” said project coordinator Richard Kingsford.
“It’s wonderful to see these animals back in their original homes and many other parts of the environment responding, thriving and restoring this desert ecosystem to some of its former magnificence.”
NSW Environment Minister James Griffin has hailed the work of regenerating the bush as it was before wild animals were introduced 200 years ago.
“It’s amazing to see that in such a short time we are on track to remove at least 10 animals from the NSW Extinct Species List – the first time this will happen anywhere in the world. “, did he declare.
Not only did the project find that introduced species were thriving, but trapping data revealed increases in other small mammal species, such as the tiny dark hopping mouse.
Researcher Rebecca West said it showed the whole ecosystem was healthier without wildlife in the mix.