Bandicoots return to outback NSW for first time in a hundred years

By AAP 3 August 2021
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Western barred bandicoots are again scampering around in an area of far northwestern NSW after more than hundred years.

Western barred bandicoots have returned to a part of far northwestern NSW for the first time in a hundred years after the area was purged of feral animals.

Ten of the small marsupials – known by local Aboriginal people as “talpero” – have been reintroduced to the Sturt National Park as part of the Wild Deserts conservation project.

Ecologists says the talpero once ranged across inland Australia, including the area now managed as Sturt National Park, but became extinct in the region following the introduction of rabbits, foxes and feral cats.

The project team – supported by the NSW government, UNSW ecologists, Ecological Horizons and Taronga Conservation Society Australia – eradicated every rabbit, cat and fox from two 2000 hectare feral-proof fenced areas in the national park before letting the founding population of talpero roam.

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Wild Deserts says once the talpero’s population starts thriving, the animals will be released into a second “training” area with predators, where “they will learn to become predator-smart”.

The ten talpero are from Arid Recovery, a conservation project that manages a large feral-free safe haven near Roxby Downs in South Australia. 

“The ultimate project aim is to release a smarter generation of bandicoots and other locally extinct mammals back into the wild,” the project team said.

“The reintroduction of this important species to the Corner Country in Sturt National Park is another huge step in our battle to halt and reverse the tide of mammal extinctions,” NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean said.

“Our aim is to re-establish ecosystems as they were before feral cats, foxes and rabbits wreaked havoc on Australian native wildlife.”

The project reintroduced bilbies and mulgaras in the same region last year.