Zoo helping to boost bilbies

SAVING THE BILBY: Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton with UNSW’s Professor Richard Kingsford, who is leading the Wild Deserts project. Photo: CONTRIBUTED
SAVING THE BILBY: Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton with UNSW’s Professor Richard Kingsford, who is leading the Wild Deserts project. Photo: CONTRIBUTED

Taronga Western Plains Zoo will be playing a significant role in re-introducing the Greater Bilby back into the wild.

The Zoo has started the development of a 100-hectare breeding sanctuary. The goal is to have the bilby re-introduced in the wild in late-2019.

It’s part of the Wild Deserts projects, which will bring back seven locally extinct mammals to Sturt National Park.

Next year ten Greater Bilbies will be introduced to the sanctuary.

Wild Deserts project lead Richard Kingsford said the initiative was a groundbreaking conservation opportunity.

“The Greater Bilby is a delicate but vital desert survivor. By digging for insects, seeds and plant roots, they help water and carbon infiltrate the soil, which in turn will trigger a restoration of Sturt National Park’s desert ecosystems,” Professor Kingsford said.

“By restoring the native wildlife over the next 10 years, we will turn the desert around.”

The Greater Bilby breeding sanctuary at Taronga Western Plains Zoo has been made possible through a major philanthropic donation to the Taronga Foundation.

Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the breeding sanctuary was an extraordinary development which would make a nationally significant contribution to wildlife and environmental conservation.

It showed why NSW was well on its way to becoming a global centre of excellence in wildlife conservation and education, she said.