After 100 years of extinction (in the region), ten strapping young bilbies have been released into the New South Wales wilderness.
Bilbies are a native Australian marsupial species that look almost exactly like rabbits except they’ve got pointy noses and their ears are a bit shorter. There are some other key differences, but that’s basically it: pointy nose bunnies. And they’ve been completely absent from the Australian bush in the state of New South Wales since the Jazz Age. But now they’re back as part of the Wild Desert Program, a conservation initiative that aims to increase the number of bilbies in NSW by 17%. It’s funny to think that ten of the pointy-nosed little buggers have been running around in the bush, eating chocolate eggs and having the time of their life for the first time since the Charleston was a popular dance and ladies smoked cigarettes on long, thin sticks, but there you go.
There are just 9000 bilbies in Australia, which is not very many at all. It sounds like a bit, but it’s not much, and we need more. Why? Because they’re cool, that’s why. Also, the digging they do about the place assists in seed germination for revegetation, thereby restoring the environment. These new bilbies were raised in Dubbo’s Western Plains Zoo and are now living in a protected area of the Sturt National Park in north-western New South Wales. Senior zookeeper Steve Kleinig said he was stoked to see the bilbies go fully free-range, and hopes they enjoy eating wild chocolate and not the shop-bought stuff they were getting at the zoo. ‘When the first bilby was released, the cameras were on and everyone was crowded around,’ he said, ‘and to see the emotion on everyone’s face… that was very overwhelming. It definitely was a career highlight, that’s for sure.’