The first group of endangered bilbies have hopped into their new home in Currawinya National Park just in time for Easter.
Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch said six bilbies had been released into the Currawinya bilby enclosure following a major upgrade to the predator exclusion fence.
“Bilbies are listed endangered in Queensland and while they were once found in locations across the country, they are now only found across 20% of their former habitat,” Ms Enoch said.
“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to ensuring they are protected.
“The 25km2 bilby enclosure at Currawinya was established in 2002, but floods in 2011 and 2012 caused serious damage to the enclosure, allowing feral cats to get in and devastate the bilby population.
“The Palaszczuk Government has invested more than $700,000 in repairing and upgrading the enclosure.
“The fence around the enclosure has been redesigned so that it can withstand similar flood events in the future.
“Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service rangers and Save the Bilby Fund have worked together to remove all of the cats from within the enclosure, making it safe for the bilbies once more.”
An ongoing feral animal control program will also assist in protecting bilbies into the future.
“While the enclosure repairs and upgrades were taking place, Save the Bilby Fund and Dreamworld were running a captive breeding program, preparing bilbies for release into their new home,” Ms Enoch said.
“The bilbies to be released under the cover of darkness have already had a week in a 50m2 ‘soft release’ enclosure so they can acclimatise to the arid conditions.
“They are also fitted with radio transmitters that will allow our rangers and a student from the University of Queensland to keep an eye on them and track their progress in their new home.”
Ms Enoch said three further groups of bilbies would be released into the predator-proof enclosure over the coming months.
Save the Bilby Fund CEO Kevin Bradley thanked the Department of Environment and Science for its ongoing support to save the beloved Australian species from extinction.
“We put a lot of work into rebuilding and upgrading the Currawinya bilby enclosure,” Mr Bradley said.
“In conjunction with the Queensland Government and Dreamworld, we have been able to establish a safe place for the bilbies to live and thrive.
“Releasing these bilbies will mark a key milestone in this ongoing project – in partnership with the Queensland Government – to safeguard the future of this iconic species.”
Al Mucci, Dreamworld General Manager Life Sciences, said: “On behalf of the Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation, we are passionate about ensuring the species lives on for generations to come and we are proud of this major milestone to further play our part towards the conservation and protection of the wild bilby population”.
“Through our partnership between Save the Bilby Fund and with the support of the Queensland Government, this marks a monumental step within a much wider project to help sustain and support bilbies.
“During the Easter long weekend, from Friday 19 April and Sunday 21 April, Dreamworld will be hosting activities for the kids to help educate them on the plight of bilbies in the wild.
“The activities will include colouring-in, cookie decorating, face painting and live bilby talks across the park throughout the day, with a portion of the proceeds going towards the Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation.”
Ms Enoch encouraged people to ditch Easter bunny chocolates and choose a bilby chocolate instead.
“Chocolate bilbies are an important fundraiser and part of the Save the Bilby Fund’s work to raise awareness of these little mammals’ endangered status in Queensland,” she said.
More details about Save the Bilby Fund can be found at www.savethebilbyfund.org
Details about the Charleville Bilby Experience can be found at www.charlevillebilbyexperience.com.au