This Saturday the 7th of September is National Threatened Species Day, an opportunity to reflect on the success stories and ongoing threatened species recovery work are also celebrated nationwide, learn about the devastating species losses across Australia, and to encourage the community to prevent further extinctions of Australia's fauna and flora.
As we all know, threatened species are an important component of biodiversity and need to be conserved with precious care, as once they become extinct they are sadly gone forever. Threatened Species Day is held each year to commemorate the death of the last remaining Tasmanian tiger at Hobart Zoo in 1936. Arid Recovery thought that now would be the perfect opportunity to share with you the overall success that we’ve had with some of our threatened species.
At least 27 species of native mammal once inhabited the Roxby Downs region, but over 60% have become locally or completely extinct since European settlement. Some bird species have also declined and many plant species are now rare in the region. Arid Recovery aims to restore as much of the original fauna and flora as possible, through natural re-establishment and planned re-introductions. Our Big Four threatened species; Burrowing Bettongs, Greater Stick-nest Rats, Greater Bilbies and Western Barred Bandicoots, now call the protected area inside the Arid Recovery fence their home, and can go about their business without a worry in the world!
We often mention our busy bettongs or the elusive bilby, so we thought it’s time to shine the spotlight on our other inhabitants, the Greater Stick-nest Rat (Leporillus conditor) and the Western Barred Bandicoot (Perameles bougainville). These cute little critters are valuable assets to Arid Recovery, as wild populations for both species are extinct on the mainland, and now only exist on small island populations off the coast of Australia. Reintroduced to Arid Recovery in 1998 (Greater Stick-nest Rat) and 2001 (Western Barred Bandicoot) both are unique in their own special way.
As its name suggests, the Greater Stick-nest Rat builds its home from a nest of sticks and branches dragged to the site in the rat’s mouth. Larger branches are gnawed down to a manageable size and added to the nest. The sleeping sites within the nest contain soft vegetation and grass. They feed mainly on leaves and fruit of succulent plants, such as blue bush and salt bush and occasionally on seeds and insects. Since their initial reintroduction populations have boomed! It is now estimated that there is over 670 Greater Stick-nest Rats within the Reserve. The success of this reintroduction has contributed to the Greater Stick-nest Rat’s national status being downgraded from endangered to vulnerable.
The Western Barred Bandicoot is the smallest of the bandicoots and weighs up to 250g. It uses its strong hind legs to dig below the ground to forage for insects, spiders and worms. It also eats seeds, roots, and other smaller animals, and can detect food up to 30cm underground. The Western Barred Bandicoot has one of the shortest gestation periods of all mammals of 12.5 days and will have two or sometimes three joeys are at a time. The Arid Recovery population of Western Barred Bandicoots has rocketed to an astonishing estimate of 350 individuals!
The Greater Stick Nest Rat and Western Barred Bandicoot are just two of many unique native species that are under threat due to habitat destruction and the invasion of non-native species.
Although we would love to save every animal, we here at Arid Recovery are doing our bit to protect and conserve the species at home in the arid zone. If you would like to help the conservation of threatened species you can volunteer your time or make a generous donation on the Arid Recovery website.