Australia’s major native animal rewilding project has reached a new milestone, with the tenth extinct species, the golden bandicoot, reintroduced to a national park in New South Wales.
The New South Wales government establishes a network of eight wild predator-free areas across the state, making it a world leader in rewilding.
Environment Minister James Griffin said the latest release of around 40 golden bandicoots in Sturt National Park means 10 mammal species previously unseen in NSW national parks for around a century are now back in their place.
“These golden bandicoots are the tenth extinct species we have reseeded in a national park in New South Wales, which is a major step in our work to reverse the tide of extinctions in this state,” Mr. Griffin.
“Due to threats such as feral cats and foxes, golden bandicoots have disappeared from 95% of their former range, with the continent’s only wild population being in a small patch of north-west Western Australia. .
“The release of these golden bandicoots is not only good news for this species, it is also good news for a range of other species that benefit from the bandicoots returning to the environment.
“It’s amazing that just three years after the NSW government reintroduced the first mammal to this project, we already have 10 species that were previously extinct in NSW and have returned to national parks.”
The Sturt National Park site is part of the NSW Government’s Rewilding Network which creates 65,000 hectares of wild predator free areas in seven national parks, providing significant conservation benefits to over 50 threatened species.
The golden bandicoot is the fourth locally extinct mammal that the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, in partnership with Wild Deserts (a partnership between the University of New South Wales and Ecological Horizons), has reintroduced to Sturt National Park.
Already, bilbies, crested mulgaras and Shark Bay bandicoots have been successfully reintroduced to Sturt National Park.
Eventually, it is hoped that the site will house 900 golden bandicoots.
Professor Richard Kingsford, head of the Wild Deserts Project, said the golden bandicoots were taken from their home in Western Australia by Aboriginal rangers.
“We thank the Wiluna Martu rangers of the Tarla Matuwa Piarku Aboriginal Corporation (TMPAC) of Western Australia. They have come a long way to hand over their precious cargo to the local traditional owner groups Wongkumara and Maljangapa at the Sturt National Park site,” Prof Kingsford said.
“The return of this species to these deserts is so important ecologically because golden bandicoots dig and turn the soil where leaves and nutrients accumulate and support the food web.
“We are also thrilled to play a role in connecting and restoring this wilderness on behalf of the original indigenous peoples, bridging two groups across the continent.”
The Sturt Project is part of the New South Wales Government’s $40 million Partnerships Project Without Wild Predators, which is bringing back to the wild at least 13 species of mammals currently extinct in New South Wales.
So far, at three sites, 10 of 13 species proposed for reintroduction have been successfully reintroduced, including the greater bilby, bridled nail-tailed wallaby, numbat, brush-tailed bettong, mulgara crest-tailed, great stick-nest rat, phascogal red-tailed rat, shark bay bandicoot, and now, golden bandicoot.