Stephen Brend- Project Officer
Our examination of the feasibility and practicalities of translocating Southern Brown Bandicoots continues to go well. This is a three part study funded through the Gippsland Transport Environment Program. The first part of the study simply considered the feasibility of translocation to support the conservation of the species. As Practical Ecology, the consultants we are working with, concluded “The multiple successful translocations of SBB in other states and EBB in Victoria prove that risks associated with translocation can be mitigated and that translocation is now a powerful tool to successfully establish new populations of bandicoot and, also, supplement the genetic diversity of existing populations.” So that’s a yes.
The second phase of the project, which is ongoing, is looking at potential source populations from which individual bandicoots could be taken for later released in the Biosphere Reserve or wider West Gippsland area. This is proving more complicated for two reasons. The first is that there are simply very few bandicoot populations left in the area. Really only the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne has a large enough population to sustain the losses caused by the removal of animals for translocation (which would be done in a way to mimic natural dispersal). However, the second issue then comes into play. Southern Brown Bandicoots have limited genetic diversity as a result of being driven into smaller and more isolated populations. Only taking from RBG Cranbourne would exacerbate that. Therefore, we are working with State-wide experts to identify source populations that would broaden the genetic base of any translocated populations.
The final part of the study is to find suitable release sites. There are pretty strict criteria surrounding this. For instance, a release site must be a minimum of 700 Ha and obviously has to be safe and suitable habitat. However, we remain quietly optimistic that a site can be found.
We’ll keep you updated on our progress.