Golden re-entry to NSW national parks for extinct bandicoots

Australia’s leading native animal rewilding project has hit another milestone, with the tenth extinct species, the golden bandicoot, being reintroduced into a NSW national park.

Golden bandicoot (Isoodon auratus) being released into Sturt National Park

The NSW Government is establishing a network of eight feral predator-free areas across the state, making it a world leader in rewilding.

Minister for Environment James Griffin said the latest release of about 40 golden bandicoots into Sturt National Park means 10 mammal species previously unseen in NSW national parks for about a century are now back where they belong.

'These golden bandicoots are the tenth extinct species that we have rewilded in a NSW national park, which is a major milestone in our work to turn back the tide of extinctions in this state,' Mr Griffin said.

'Due to threats such as feral cats and foxes, golden bandicoots are extinct across 95 per cent of their former range, with the only wild mainland population found in a small patch of northwest Western Australia.

'The release of these golden bandicoots isn’t just good news for this species, it’s also good news for a range of other species that benefit from having bandicoots back in the environment.

'It’s incredible that just three years after the NSW Government reintroduced the first mammal in this project, we already have 10 species that were previously extinct in NSW returned to national parks.'

The Sturt National Park site is part of the NSW Government’s rewilding network that is creating 65,000 hectares of feral predator free areas across seven national parks, providing significant conservation benefits for more than 50 threatened species.

The golden bandicoot is the fourth locally extinct mammal that the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, working in partnership with Wild Deserts (a partnership between University of New South Wales and Ecological Horizons), have reintroduced at Sturt National Park.

Already, bilbies, crest-tailed mulgaras and Shark Bay bandicoots have been successfully reintroduced at Sturt National Park.

Eventually it’s hoped the site will be home to 900 golden bandicoots.

Wild Deserts Project Leader Professor Richard Kingsford said the golden bandicoots were farewelled from their home in Western Australia by Aboriginal rangers.

'We thank the Tarla Matuwa Piarku Aboriginal Corporation (TMPAC) Wiluna Martu rangers from Western Australia. They traveled a long way to handover their precious cargo to the local traditional owner groups Wongkumara and Maljangapa at the Sturt National Park site,' Professor Kingsford said.

'The return of this species into these deserts is so important ecologically because the golden bandicoots dig and turn over the soil where leaves and nutrients collect and support the food web.

'We are also excited to be playing a part in connecting and restoring this desert on behalf of the original Aboriginal people, linking two groups across the continent.'

The Sturt project is part of the NSW Government's $40 million feral predator-free area partnerships project, which is returning at least 13 mammal species currently extinct in New South Wales back into the wild.

So far across three sites, 10 of the 13 species proposed for reintroduction have been successfully reintroduced, including the greater bilby, bridled nail-tail wallaby, numbat, brush-tailed bettong, crest-tailed mulgara, greater stick nest rat, red-tailed phascogale, Shark Bay bandicoot, and now, the golden bandicoot.