Update on the Bandicoot Super Highway Project
Words Courtesy of The Courier by Elisa Rose:
The world-renowned Mount Lofty Ranges is a biodiversity hotspot and critical habitat for the Endangered Southern Brown Bandicoot (Isodoon obesulus obesulus). FNPW is working with local (Sturt Upper Reaches Landcare Group, SURLG) and state (Department for Environment and Water, DEW) partners to protect bandicoot populations and reduce their regional status from Endangered to Vulnerable by 2028.
“A project that aims to help endangered bandicoots thrive in the Hills has been boosted with a $250,000 cash injection.
The Sturt Upper Reaches Landcare Group is working with Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board to improve Bandicoot habitat across the region as part of the project which has been funded by the Foundation of National Parks & Wildlife. The Stuart Upper Reaches Landcare group has been working with landholders for several years to revegetate a corridor of land between the Mark Oliphant Park and Belair National Park to provide a safe “patchwork” of vegetation for endangered bandicoot populations, in the hope that they will meet and inter-breed to diversify their genetics. Earlier this year volunteers began work on the last piece of the puzzle of a continuous vegetation corridor, but Sturt Upper Reaches Landcare Group president Danny Rohrlach said that corridor would now be consolidated and expanded with the help of the funding.
Mr Rohrlach said that the two-year funding commitment would also help improve existing habitat through weed control; re-vegetate land across the Hills providing more attractive and safe habitat to allow separated populations of the endangered species to connect.
“That will encourage them to interbreed and increase their health and prospects” he said. The project would also look at using controlled burning to reinvigorate habitat, he said, and using cameras to investigate how species like bandicoots respond to fire and how quickly they return to an area as it recovers. Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board regional ecologist Luke Price said the project would also explore ways to effectively trans-locate bandicoots, including to protect them from habitat loss of prescribed burns. “That will be a bit of a game changer if we can help people identify effective ways of trans-location,” he said.
“With endangered species, if you can move them between sites successfully you really decrease their risk of extinction.”
Education will also be a key component of the project, including teaching landholders how to manage bandicoot habitat on their properties and teaching local community groups about how to survey populations. “We’re hoping to roll out region-wide surveys next year… and that will give us a really good idea about where they occur,” Mr Price said. “Once we know where they occur that can help with lots of different things.” Those could include the risks bandicoots face and whether they still live in the areas they previously occupied.”