Choose the Bilby, Not the Bunny

Bilby

An Aussie species may be in for a fighting chance thanks to kind-hearted Australians and a bit of Easter indulgence.

By Ellanah Ritchie

Easter has come and gone, leaving behind a mass of coloured foil and lonely chocolate bunnies covered in discount stickers at the supermarkets.

It’s a time of high-consumerism and high chocolate consumption, but there is one native animal who is benefitting from our Easter spend-up.

The Bilby is one of Australia’s most endangered native species, with feral cats and foxes its greatest predators, and feral rabbits out breeding the Bilbies and competing for habitat.

Endangered: There are currently between 400 - 1600 Bilbies left in survival.

Endangered: There are currently between 400 – 1600 Bilbies left in survival.

Without organisations such as the Save the Bilby Fund, the marsupials may soon go extinct.

The Save the Bilby Fund was founded in 1999 when the need for a bilby fence was realised.

The Currawinya Bilby Fence surrounds 25 square kilometres inside the Currawinya National Park, and keeps predators out and the remaining bilby population in.

The fence cost around $500,000 to build, with six surrounding electric wires preventing damage to the fence by larger animals such as kangaroos and emus.

CEO of the Save the Bilby Fund Kevin Bradley says there is currently an estimated population of 400 to 1600 Queensland Bilbies left.

“The reason for the variance is that when conditions are dry and harsh out west bilbies seem to do well because feral animals do not cope so well but, when the conditions are good feral animal numbers boom hence competing or preying on native species like bilbies,” Bradley says.

The Save the Bilby Fund is currently undertaking a number of procedures in an effort to stabilise population numbers, through research, feral animal management, and an intensive captive breeding program.

Australian owned company Pink Lady Chocolates has donated 30 cents of each sale to the Save the Bilby Fund.

Representative of Fyna Foods the owner of Pink Lady Chocolates, Josh Symons says the Pink Lady division of Fyna Foods was more than happy to step in by providing a percentage of Easter chocolate sales as funding.

“Originally the Save the Bilby Fund was with Darrell Lea, but when they went into receivership they were no longer able to support them, so that’s where we stepped in,” Symons says.

“They didn’t have any support at all, and we’ve been making chocolate bilbies since the 1940s so we just stepped in because they needed someone, and we were there and we could help them.”

Symons says it’s the least Fyna Foods can do to save the endangered animal.

“We have this unique animal that in 200 years we’ve managed to dwindle down to only 400 left, and are now facing extinction.

“We can’t do everything but we can just try to support them to the best that we can.

“That’s why we’re working on things that we can improve on next year, to get Australians to buy more Pink Lady Bilbies so that we can give more money to the fund.

“The more money we can raise for the Fund means the more money they have to maintain fences, and for other expenses.”