Featured species: bilbies run wild again

For the first time in more than 100 years, bilbies are once again running wild in a NSW conservation area.

The bilby (Macrotis lagotis) is presumed extinct in NSW

Scientific name: Macrotis lagotis

Conservation status: Nationally vulnerable

Size: 29–55cm in length. Males can weigh up to 2.4kg in the wild. Female bilbies are smaller weighing in at 1.1kg.

Behaviour: The bilby is nocturnal, which means it's active only at night. Bilbies have poor eyesight, and rely on their acute hearing and sense of smell.

Bilbies were common in many parts of New South Wales, until habitat loss and the introduction of non-indigenous predators such as foxes and cats saw them disappear in the wild in the early 1900s.

Now, thanks to the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service in partnership with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC), 60 Bilbies are now roaming in a predator-free section of the Pilliga State Conversation Area near Narrabri in north-west New South Wales.

The bilbies are just the first mammal species to be reintroduced into three national parks in Western New South Wales under the Saving our Species program, with plans to reintroduce bridled nail-tail wallabies, brush-tailed bettongs and numbats to follow.

The landmark project to re-introduce bilbies and other mammals into the wild in New South Wales saw the AWC and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service construct a 5800-hectare predator-free fenced area in the Pilliga. 

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton was also upbeat: 'The return of the bilby to the wild is an internationally significant moment and is a major victory in the campaign to save our species from extinction in New South Wales.'

Bilbies are an iconic Australian native animal and to have them back in our national parks is a magnificent sight to see.'

Top: Bilby (Macrotis lagotis) Photo: M Todd