Back From The Brink

Western Queensland Road Trip #5 Charleville

Everyone is familiar with Australia’s native animals the koala and the kangaroo. But you may not have heard of another of our favourites, the bilby.

Bilbies are desert-dwelling nocturnal marsupials. Once their habitat covered more than 70% of Australia but with the importation of foxes, rabbits and cats their numbers have declined to the point where they have been declared a vulnerable species. In western Queensland, there are fewer than 600 bilbies living in the wild.

In an effort to prevent the extinction of bilbies, the Save the Bilby Fund was established in 1999. The fund’s ongoing vision is to preserve and protect bilbies by developing a captive breeding program and creating a predator free zone within Currawinya National Park where mature bilbies can be released and monitored.

The fund’s home base is the Charleville Bilby Experience at the historic Charleville Railway Station.

Displays explain the bilbies’ life cycle, behaviour and diet. They are excellent diggers and construct several long burrows close to each other. Like many Australian native animals they are marsupials; their young live in a pouch. Similar to wombats, a bilby’s pouch opens at the back. This prevents dirt from going in when the bilby is digging.

A full size model depicts the predator proof fence constructed at Currawinya.

The main attraction at the centre is the nocturnal house, where bilbies can be seen in an enclosure replicating their natural desert environment. Only a couple of these swift moving animals are on show at any time. Their appearance is distinctive, with silky fur, large ears and a long white tipped tail. As they dart around logs in the darkened enclosure, they’re little more than a blur – it’s difficult to capture a clear image.

With the help of the Save the Bilby Fund, these endearing creatures should be able to stay one step ahead of extinction.

32 thoughts on “Back From The Brink

  1. Hi Carol! I do know of the cute little bilby but I did not realise they are so severely at the brink of extinction. They are, like all your marsupials, intriguing and unique and ought to be celebrated. Though wombats remain my favourite, these little critters are right up there. Thanks for this informative post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know you speak of rabbits in jest Jonno, but they are actually a huge issue in Australia. They aren’t native, and were brought with the first fleet for food and hunting. Of course, once they were released into the wild the numbers increased dramatically, into the billions. They eat plants down to ground level, which means native animals lose their habitat and food supplies. When we first saw rabbits in a field in England, we couldn’t believe how tiny they were. Aussie rabbits are huge! There have been some very successful eradication programs in the past, including three rabbit proof fences built across the outback for a distance of more than 3,000 km. Rabbits have been responsible for the extinction of many native species here, so they’re not welcome. 🙂

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  2. I also didn’t realise that Bilbies are so close to extinction. It’s the story of so many of our native animals to a greater or lesser degree, but thank goodness people are endeavouring to save them.

    Liked by 1 person

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