Golden Bandicoots have made a triumphant return to Central Australia this week, marking a resurgence after being declared extinct in the region. These species had vanished from sight since 1967, however a promising initiative to reintroduce them has had a successful beginning.
This week, a group of 40 bandicoots were relocated from the Artesian Ranges in Western Australia's northern reaches to the Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary, situated 360 kilometers northwest of Alice Springs. Their disappearance from the region is attributed to the presence of feral cats and other predators.
The Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary, spanning 9,450 hectares and free from feral predators, will serve as a haven for these bandicoots. The refuge is poised to welcome an additional 60 Golden Bandicoots from Barrow Island, located off the Western Australian coast, in the coming week.
Tim Henderson, a wildlife ecologist at the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, emphasized both the ecological and cultural significance of translocating the species to the area.
"They'll be really important for genetic diversity for the species as a whole," Mr Henderson told ABC News.
"They're a really well-known species for some of the older traditional owners, so it's really, really cool they're back here."
The process of reintroducing Golden Bandicoots first demanded thorough population surveys in the Kimberley. A dedicated team of 17 rangers and researchers embarked on a 12-day survey in the remote bushland of the Charnley River-Artesian Range Wildlife Sanctuary, leading to the capture and processing of 94 bandicoots from the area.
Subsequently, 40 of these creatures embarked on the almost 1,000 km journey to central Australia. The survey and translocation process was facilitated by a collaborative effort between Indigenous rangers from the Wilinggin Aboriginal Corporation and ecologists from the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.
Over the upcoming months, close monitoring will ensure that the reintroduced Golden Bandicoots acclimate well to their new habitat. Half of the released animals have been outfitted with VHF transmitters, allowing ecologists to monitor their movements and progress closely.
The animals' arrival was received by the traditional custodians of Watakinpirri Country, the location of Newhaven Sanctuary. For many of the elders, this marked a reunion with creatures they hadn't encountered since their own childhood.
With a history in the arid landscapes of Central Australia, there is a hopeful anticipation that these bandicoots will seamlessly adapt to their ancestral environment.
" What we aim to do here is to re-introduce these animals back to the former landscape… There is a strong hope that they will be able to adapt to the landscape fairly easily," Henderson said.
The bandicoots have already begun their journey of renewal. During the flight, two female bandicoots gave birth to young in their pouches, a positive sign for potential population growth in their new home.
Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.