5 ways you can support our native bilbies this Easter

By Elizabeth Arrigo 22 March 2018
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It’s time to ditch the chocolate bunnies.

BUNNY RABBITS may be the symbol of Easter across the world, but here in Australia we’re lucky enough to have our own symbol for the holiday; the endangered greater bilby (Macrotis lagotis).

A large burrowing marsupial with a backward pouch, long claws, and oversized ears, the native bilby has been used as an Easter holiday icon in Australia since the 1970s. But they’ve existed on the continent for millions of years.

These native marsupials have adapted to our tough environment, using their long claws to create three-metre deep, spiral-shaped hollows that protect bilbies from the harsh desert sun during the day.

Once found on more than 70 per cent of Australia’s mainland, bilbies today face threats from foxes, feral cats and rabbits, and have disappeared from 80 per cent of their former range.

The Easter bilby campaign aims at raising awareness of the bilby’s vulnerable status and hopes to further conserve this unique native animal. By doing just one of these five things, you’ll help support our native bilbies this Easter.

1. Buy chocolate bilbies, not bunnies this Easter

Forget about putting a chocolate bunny in your basket. You can help these native animals just by purchasing a chocolate bilby.

Companies partnered with the Save the Bilby Fund include Darrell Lea and Pink Lady Chocolate.

For every chocolate bilby bought, the Save the Bilby Fund donates 30 cents, which goes to coordinating bilby conservation through the National Recovery Plan, managing the Bilby Fence in western Queensland, assisting breeding programs and raising awareness and education levels across Australia.

Haigh’s have partnered with the Foundation for Rabbit Free Australia since they started making the Easter Bilbies 23 years ago.

Not a bad deal for a bit of choccy this long weekend.

2. Support Indigenous land management that benefits the bilby

Nearly 80 per cent of bilbies live on Aboriginal owned or managed land, leaving many of our traditional owners responsible for its protection.

In the Aboriginal community of Kiwirrkurra, rangers have been successfully tracking and protecting bilbies across the region since 2013.

With their superior tracking skills and the use of both traditional and contemporary knowledge, Indigenous rangers can assist in the bilby’s survival.

There are a number of organisations to choose from, but Bush Heritage Australia does great work with local Aboriginal communities to protect our natural land and fauna.

One of their successful partnerships is with the Martu people in Western Australia, where they manage the Birriliburu Indigenous Protected Area with a specific focus on preserving the greater bilby population.

3. Adopt a bilby

Adopting a bilby is a great way to excite kids on Easter morning.

Taronga Zoo offers adoption programs, with the money going towards research, conservation and education.

In return for your generosity, Taronga gifts you an adoption certificate, a photo of your adopted bilby, and a subscription to their Wild Life magazine.

And you get a free plush toy with your donation, a perfect accompaniment to your chocolate bilbies.

4. Bilby books, not bunny books for Easter

There are a number of children’s books now available featuring native bilbies as main characters.

Not only does this help get kids interested in our native wildlife, but a lot of the time these books donate a portion of their cost price to the Save the Bilby Fund. The Easter Bilby, Bilby Moon and Easter Egg Express make for great reading material.

5. Donate to reintroduction programs

Numerous organisations operate across Australia to reintroduce and protect bilbies in the wild.

One of these is the Arid Recovery project, which manages a 123 square kilometre reserve in South Australia. Wildlife are protected across the Reserve using 80 kilometres of fencing to exclude feral cats, foxes and rabbits. Reintroducing bilbies into this protected area, the Arid Recovery Project has been instrumental in preventing the extinction of the species since 1997.