26 September 2023

First time in a century: NSW breeding Bettongs

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A critically endangered rat-kangaroo has been returned to north-central NSW for the first time in over 100 years following a NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPSW) reintroduction program.

Head of NSW NPWS, Atticus Fleming said the fungi-loving, Brush-tailed Bettongs were translocated from Western Australia to a massive feral cat and fox-free area in the Pilliga State Conservation Area late last year.

“Now those 55 pioneering Bettongs have welcomed a new generation, with the discovery of the first baby Brush-tailed Bettong in the Pilliga,” Mr Fleming said.

“The baby Bettong has been named Bella by the ecologists who made the discovery during the first survey of the new population,” he said.

He said the Brush-tailed Bettong told a story familiar to many of Australia’s mammals – “foxes and feral cats have driven a catastrophic decline”.

Once found across much of mainland Australia, Mr Fleming said the small marsupial had now disappeared from 99 per cent of its former range.

“The arrival of Bella is a sign that the new bettong population is on track to reclaim its former home in the Pilliga,” he said.

“It is another huge step in turning back the tide of extinctions in New South Wales – great news for bettongs and for the Pilliga forest.

“Native animals like the Bettong are important for the health of forests like the Pilliga – they shift soil around, boosting the health of the landscape by helping with seed and spore dispersal and water and nutrient cycling.”

Mr Fleming said the population of Brush-tailed Bettongs in the Pilliga was expected to grow to around 2,600 animals.

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