Melbourne Airport’s Healthy Habitats program has been running since 2013, supporting the recovery of the endangered Eastern Barred Bandicoot. This project forms part of our national wildlife conservation program, Wild Futures.
The program is located at Woodlands Historic Park (right next door to the airport), where a predator proof fence has been installed by volunteers in the “Back Paddock”. A population of Eastern Barred Bandicoots have been released into the wild and are successfully breeding. The ultimate goal is to increase the bandicoot population to above 2000, taking the bandicoot off the endangered list.
The Healthy Habitats program aims to:
- Establish essential breeding habitat for the Eastern Barred Bandicoot and maintain the ‘Back Paddock’ at Woodlands Historic Park as a predator free zone
- Contribute to the relocation and release of bandicoots to Hamilton, Western Victoria
- Educate local residents about the bandicoot recovery program
- Involve the community in family volunteering days to assist in maintaining the bandicoot’s habitat
Since February 2017, there have been eight weekend family volunteering days held and four monitoring days held in April. To date, 44 community volunteers have contributed to restoring critical habitat for the bandicoot, weeding large areas of invasive species and collecting over 15kg of rubbish. In addition, volunteers made bandicoot bait balls which have been used for the trapping process.
Monitoring is a critical part of the conservation program and involved checking 900 traps around the park over four days. The bandicoots were trapped overnight and the next day, teams of volunteers checked the health of each bandicoot, collected critical information about the captured bandicoots, tagged them and took hair samples of all new bandicoots. It was expected that breeding numbers would be low due to average rainfall and a hot summer. When there is no rain, the ground becomes hard and it becomes difficult for the bandicoots to dig for food, as a result, they will often stop breeding. Instead, the opposite was the case, with the following results:
- 96 bandicoots were caught, of which 50 were clean skins (haven’t been caught before)
- 71% of the females caught had pouch young, with a total of 44 pouch young observed
- the sex ratio of captured bandicoots continues to be male biased with 62 males and 34 females
Community volunteers are critical to the success of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot program and the survival of the species.
“We learnt so much about the Woodlands area and its history. It’s great that we have enthusiastic volunteers getting involved. The Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery program is great and it’s very important that the program continues until numbers are plentiful. “ Carlo, community volunteer
We invite you to join our upcoming family volunteering days at Woodlands Historic Park, volunteer registrations are open now for Saturday 7th October, Sunday 19th November and Saturday December 9th.
Volunteers will assist in making bandicoot bait food which is used for trapping and monitoring and enjoy an interpretative guided tour and information session. We encourage you to get involved and make a difference to the Eastern Barred Bandicoots survival.
Thank you to Melbourne Airport for their commitment to the Healthy Habitats program.