Bilby Bonanza

Gwydir Ark members visit a translocation project in the Pilliga

Bilby Bonanza

Gwydir Ark members visit a translocation project in the Pilliga

Community Participation -


The issue

The Pilliga is the largest native forest west of the Great Dividing Range, located south west of Narrabri in the Brigalow Belt. It provides essential habitat to a range of native animals but, like all native forests, is also challenged by a suite of threatening processes. For small marsupials, the difference between survival or extinction is the presence of the highly successful hunters - cats and foxes. Gwydir Ark got a unique opportunity to visit the 5,800 hectare wildlife enclosure managed by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) on behalf of NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service the primary of aim of which is to exclude these predators.

The solution

In 2018, in the middle of the drought, the AWC team started the reintroduction of species that were previously known to inhabit this area. The aim was to ensure breeding populations within the enclosure with the long-term vision of stable populations outside. AWC manage a large area outside the fence with monitoring and trapping of feral predators. Management within the fence consists of extensive monitoring, and daily fence reconnaissance to ensure there have been no break-ins (or outs). In the early days a few bilbies repeatedly dug themselves out of the fence!  Three of the four were recaptured and eventually kept within the fence, but the forth disappeared completely, presumably prey to a feral predator.

The impact

We saw extensive burrows in the daylight hours as we toured the predator proof fence. After dark, we ventured back into the enclosure for hours of spotlighting fun. Under the guidance of an AWC ecologist, we saw all of the reintroduced species. The bilbies were a highlight, four gracing us with their personality plus presence. This visit deepened our understanding of the measures required to ensure breeding populations into the future and the importance of small marsupials in maintaining a thriving ecology.  Imagine a world in which we could see species such as bilbies in the wild. Now that is something to aspire to.

Key facts

  • The Pilliga covers 35,632ha in the Brigalow Belt of NSW
  • The predator proof fence encloses 5,800 ha
  • Five marsupials have been reintroduced
  • All species are breeding within the enclosure

Project Partners