The Bilby is an iconic Australian marsupial, instantly recognisable by its long pointed snout, long ears, soft grey fur and striking black and white tail.
AWC protects almost 10 per cent of the entire Bilby population, but with ongoing translocations, this figure is set to double in the coming years.
The key to our success with Bilbies has been the establishment of massive feral predator-free areas. We have successfully reintroduced Bilbies to six of these feral free areas, and more translocations are planned.
Between 2016-2018, AWC reintroduced 56 Bilbies to Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary. Since, the population is estimated to have grown to 1,770 individuals (2023 census).
AWC reintroduced Bilbies to the Pilliga in late 2018, followed by Mallee Cliffs National Park in October 2019. Prior to these translocations, Bilbies had been absent in NSW National Parks for more than 100 years. These two populations have increased over time and are estimated at 175 individuals in the Pilliga (2023 census) and 116 individuals in Mallee Cliffs (2022 census).
In 2022, a new population of Bilbies was established at Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary outside of Alice Springs. Ecohealth surveys late last year indicated that the population has successfully adapted to the new environment and the first photo evidence of a juvenile was recorded on camera trap in November.
Within the next few years, AWC properties will protect an estimated 5,000+ Bilbies.
The Bilby population continues to decline, primarily due to predation by feral cats and foxes. Altered fire regimes and competition for resources with introduced herbivores are other key factors leading to the decline of this species.
Using their strong forelimbs, Bilbies dig burrows up to three metres long to live in. They are opportunistic feeders, with a broad diet consisting of insects, seeds, bulbs, fruit and fungi.
Bilbies act as important ‘ecosystem engineers’; in the course of digging burrows and feeding, an individual Bilby turns over up to 20 tonnes of topsoil in a year.
Range and abundance
Bilbies live in a variety of habitats including grasslands, stony downs country, and desert sandplains and dunefields. They occur in patchy populations from near Broome through the Tanami and Great Sandy Deserts, and in an isolated population in south-western Queensland. Bilbies were once widespread across arid and semi-arid Australia, occupying around 70 per cent of the continent. Cats and foxes have had a catastrophic impact on the species, which has disappeared from over 80 per cent of its former range.
A second Bilby species, known as Yallara or Lesser Bilby, survived in Australia’s central deserts until the 1960s, but is now presumed to be extinct. AWC’s logo is a stylised image of the Yallara.
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