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Eastern Barred Bandicoot recovery

Thanks to ongoing efforts to reintroduce the Eastern barred bandicoot into the wild on offshore islands, including Phillip Island (Millowl) and Churchill Islands, this species has been brought back from the brink of extinction.

The Eastern Barred Bandicoot is one of Australia’s most fascinating native animals. The Eastern Barred Bandicoot is a small brown-grey marsupial with distinctive pale bars or stripes across its back, pointed ears and hind legs that look similar to a kangaroo. These small nocturnal marsupials were once widespread across southwest Victoria and Tasmania.

Today, the mainland Eastern Barred Bandicoot is endangered due to predation by foxes and the loss of much of its native habitat.

In recent years fox-free islands have provided a refuge for Eastern barred bandicoots. Introductions were made onto Churchill Island in 2015, Phillip Island in 2017 and French Island in 2019, providing 70 square miles of bandicoot habitat. The bandicoots have been breeding and spreading across these islands, and Churchill Island has provided an excellent source population for introductions into other areas.

In September 2021, thirty-three years after Eastern Barred Bandicoots were first taken into captivity, their numbers had increased to around 1500 individuals and their status was changed from Extinct in the wild to Endangered. In a world first this has allowed the captive breeding program to come to an end. Ongoing research has shown that their numbers and range are increasing, a promising sign for the future of this incredible marsupial.

In the lead up to National Threatened Species Day, we would like to share an informative discussion which highlights the amazing effort by the National Recovery Team to bring the Eastern Barred Bandicoot back from the brink of extinction. Fox-free Millowl (Phillip Island) has given these cute creatures a safe haven from predation, and is a wonderful case study of how conservation can support species which struggle due to introduced pests. Created in collaboration with Reverse the Red, Pelecanus , Zoos Victoria and Phillip Island Nature Parks. Watch the episode here:

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Illustration by Peppermint Narwhal Creative

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