IN A first for Australia, a species classified as extinct in the wild was reclassified, with Victoria’s Eastern Barred Bandicoot saved from the brink of extinction.
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio announced the species status had changed and, while still endangered, the Eastern Barred Bandicoot has a much brighter future.
Bandicoots from captive breeding programs and fenced reserves were successfully translocated to secure, fox-free habitats on Phillip, Churchill and French Islands, where significant populations are now thriving.
Once common across the grassy plains in south-west Victoria, the Eastern Barred Bandicoot population was eventually confined to the last wild population surviving near Hamilton.
An Eastern Barred Bandicoot recovery team was formed in 1988 to coordinate efforts to rescue the species from extinction.
In 1989, only around 150 remained. Now there are about 1500 across the three sites, prompting the reclassification.
The changed status enables Zoos Victoria to end its 30-year captive breeding program, which has produced close to 1200 animals.