By Stephen Brend, Project Officer
Almost from its inception, the Biosphere Reserve Foundation has been concerned about the Southern Brown Bandicoot (SBB). This small marsupial should be widespread throughout the Reserve and wider area and, probably, once was. Unfortunately, as with so many other species, it has fallen victim to habitat destruction, land use change and introduced, invasive predators such as foxes and cats. Now, SBB are an endangered species. When we find evidence of them hiding in blackberry thickets, we have to ask ourselves which is the greater evil: removing the noxious blackberry and so exposing any resident bandicoots to predation or keeping the weed and helping to preserve a diminishing population of a threatened native.
To beat that dilemma and so secure a local future for bandicoots, the Biosphere Foundation successfully applied for funding from the Gippsland Transport Environmental Projects – Pilot Program. In partnership with the Royal Botanic Garden Cranbourne and Parks Victoria (West Gippsland), we designed a three-phase project: 1) assess the feasibility of translocating bandicoots from one safe space to another; 2) identify source populations and then; 3) identify potential release sites and what infrastructure may be required there.
This pilot project doesn’t actually involve moving bandicoots from one place to another. Hopefully, that will come later. But, without this work, it can never happen. In keeping with our name, we are laying the foundations to help save one of our iconic species.