A small furry marsupial that roamed the grassy plains of Australia’s Victoria state has been brought back from the brink of extinction, officials say.
The Eastern Barred Bandicoot population has declined due to non-native foxes, habitat destruction, and feral cats.
After 30 years of conservation efforts, the number has risen from 150 to an estimated 1,500.
It is the first time that Australia has changed an animal’s status from “extinct in the wild” to “endangered.”
When recorded bandicoot population levels fell in the years leading up to the late 1980s, conservationists in the state of Victoria invested millions of dollars in captive breeding programmes.
They established predator-free zones, some of which were guarded by trained dogs, and relocated some of the animals to fox-free islands.
When Victoria’s Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio announced the bandicoot’s conservation status change on Wednesday, she said she was “excited” about the project’s success, adding, “It is an incredible first for Australia.”
Amy Coetsee, a threatened species biologist at Zoos Victoria in Melbourne, told AFP that the news gave her “hope that with persistence, determination, and the support of government, volunteers, and communities, we can win the fight against extinction.”
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Australia, Australia has the highest rate of mammal extinction in the world.