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Bandicoots Return

Locally extinct bandicoots have returned to an Australian national park in New South Wales after more than 100 years.

The nationally threatened species—known by local Aboriginal people as ‘talpero’—once ranged across inland Australia, including the area now managed as Sturt National Park.

The small, native marsupials became extinct in the region after ecosystem changes caused by rabbits and predation by feral cats and foxes.

Now, a founding population of talpero have been reintroduced to the area by the team at Wild Deserts.

Their reintroduction is another major milestone in the Wild Deserts conservation project, which last year reintroduced bilbies and mulgaras into the national park.

“The season has been tremendous out here with the rains we had last year and then again in March,” says UNSW’s Dr Rebecca West, an ecologist based at Wild Deserts.

“These rains have helped create a highly productive system that is excellent for the reintroduction of this species.”

Up until recently, western barred bandicoots were considered one species with five subspecies, but this has recently split into five species. Only the Shark Bay species, the species translocated to Sturt National Park, survived. UNSW scientists acknowledge this important taxonomic work.

This remaining species has been moved to two islands and three fenced locations. The Wild Deserts conservation reintroduction came from one of these, a self-sustaining population at Arid Recovery near Roxby Downs.

Supported by governments because of their conservation value, the Wild Deserts conservation reintroduction recognizes the important role that this species complex played in ecological function, important for restoring desert ecosystems.

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