FACT SHEET AND PROJECT UPDATES
Updated 2016 and 2017
This project involves practical action to improve the long-term viability of two Australian mammal species through reintroduction to Booderee National Park.
Year two (3-year project)
Overview of progress
- The long-nosed potoroo and the southern brown bandicoot have been reintroduced to Booderee National Park, using source animals trapped from state forests around Eden.
- A first translocation of 23 potoroos occurred in October 2014 with a second translocation of 12 potoroos following in October 2015.
- Thirteen southern brown bandicoots were reintroduced in May 2016, after being absent from the park for almost 100 years.
- Researchers from the National Environmental Science Programme’s Threatened Species Hub have been involved in the reintroductions and are co-ordinating tracking and monitoring of the released animals.
- Bandicoots tracked for a month following translocation all appeared to show normal behaviour, including nest building, and they rapidly selected heath as their preferred habitat.
- Ongoing monitoring is continuing to detect both potoroos and bandicoots, including some with pouch young, persisting at the release sites. The release of these species into Booderee National Park has been made possible by the park’s intensive fox control program.
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Year one (3-year project)
Overview of progress
- The first long-nosed potoroo release was completed in October 2014 after 23 potoroos were trapped in state forests around Eden before being relocated to Booderee National Park.
- In March 2015 monitoring revealed breeding at Booderee had taken place after two female potoroos were found with pouch young.
- A relocation of another 12 potoroos from around Eden to Booderee took place in October 2015.
- Monitoring of the Booderee potoroo population is ongoing, along with fox control measures.
- Plans are underway to relocate the southern brown bandicoot in 2016, and a relocation plan for eastern quolls is also being prepared.
The Threatened Species Commissioner has mobilised $80,000 from the Australian Government to reintroduce vulnerable long-nosed potoroos and endangered southern brown bandicoots to Booderee National Park.
Populations of long-nosed potoroos (Potorous tridactylus) and southern brown bandicoots (Isoodon obesulus) are being translocated from nearby state forests to a new home in Booderee National Park on the South Coast of New South Wales. Potoroos and bandicoots have long been extinct in Booderee, likely as the result of hunting by foxes. Booderee has carried out an intensive feral predator control program over the last decade, and fox and cat numbers are now so low that the park can again provide a safe haven for these threatened species.
The park plans to introduce at least 36 potoroos and 30 bandicoots. The first group of potoroos was released in Booderee in the last week of October 2014, with 24 animals making the journey from forest areas near the town of Eden. More potoroos will be reintroduced in autumn 2015 and bandicoots will return in late 2015.
This project is a partnership between Parks Australia which manages Booderee National Park, Forestry Corporation of NSW, the Australian National University and the Southern Ark team from DEPI Victoria. Taronga Zoo is providing veterinary expertise.
Long-nosed potoroos and southern brown bandicoots were present in the Booderee area for thousands of years before the arrival of foxes and cats—evidence of potoroos is abundant in Aboriginal middens dating back to historic times.
Potoroos are a highly threatened group of small mammals related to kangaroos and wallabies. Adult long-nosed potoroos weigh up to 1.6 kg and have a head and body length of about 360 mm and a tail length of 200–260 mm. Their backs are greyish brown and their bellies light brown.
Adult southern brown bandicoots weigh up to 1.9 kg and have a head and body length of about 30 cm and a tail length of about 12 cm. They have small rounded ears and small black eyes. Their fur is grey-brown on their backs and creamy white to pale yellow on their forefeet and belly.
Species to benefit
The obvious beneficiaries are the long-nosed potoroos and southern brown bandicoots, which are significant species for the Wreck Bay Aboriginal Community Council which manages Booderee National Park in partnership with Parks Australia.
This project will have spin off benefits for Booderee's forest ecosystems. Potoroos and bandicoots perform vitally important functions in forests. They consume large amounts of hypogeal fungi. These 'truffles' are high in nutrients and have a strong smell. The small mammals eat them and then deposit the spores from the fungi in their faeces. As the scattered spores grow into fungi they form a mutually beneficial relationship with forest trees. The fungi grow in the roots of trees, which provide water and carbon to the fungi. The fungi extract nutrients from the soil for the trees. Scientists believe this is probably the reason why large trees were able to grow at Booderee despite the very poor soil. Reintroducing the potoroos and bandicoots will help spread these beneficial fungi further and more efficiently through Booderee's forests. Potoroos and bandicoots also improve soil health by composting the soil when they forage for fungi and invertebrates. Mixing organic matter and improving water infiltration aids plant health and seed germination.