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Eastern Barred Bandicoot release Churchill Island

Image: Zoos Victoria

Update 1 - 16 August 2015 (release)

Update 2 - 1 September 2015

Update 3 - 25 September 2015

Update 4 - 11 November 2015

Update 5 - 10 February 2016

Update 6 - 14 April 2016

Update 7 - 15 June 2016

Update 8 - 22 September 2016

Update 9 - 14 December 2016

Update 10 - 10 March 2017

Update 11 - 30 June 2017

Updates on the Churchill Island Eastern Barred Bandicoot release are adapted from information provided by Dr Duncan Sutherland, Senior Research Scientist, Deputy Research Manager - Phillip Island Nature Parks.

Update No.1  Release

On Sunday 16th August 2015, Zoos Victoria in conjunction with the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team released 16 Eastern Barred Bandicoots  (8 males and  8 females) onto Churchill Island, near Phillip Island.

All 16 EBB's have been radio tracked during their first week after release.  All individuals have moved day-time nesting sites several times and have been observed moving about foraging freely at night. The map indicates where the Bandicoots have been found. Numbers 1 to 8 are captive animals from Zoos Victoria and 9 to 16 all come from Mt Rothwell. 

 

Update No. 2  1st September 2015 -  (2 weeks post release)

There has been daily radio-tracking of each animal and trapping to monitor their health and condition.  

The bandicoots have been moving around, changing nest locations and seen foraging in pretty much every habitat available to them. There was even an observation of a couple of pairs mating. See their movements across the island since they were released in the map below. 

Unfortunately, on Wednesday night the first mortality was found, a female that was part of the captive population bred at Melbourne Zoo. A post mortem conducted by the Melbourne Zoo Vet Department revealed that the cause of death was due to dramatic weight loss and severe dehydration. These events are always unfortunate, but are a reality for animals adapting to living in the wild.

Of the remaining 15 Bandicoots on Churchill Island, the team has been able to successfully trap 11 and all are doing well. The other four are being tracked and have been seen moving around freely.

The majority of captive bred EBBs have recorded some weight loss which is to be expected in the first two weeks after release, though one has put on weight.  In comparison, the semi-wild EBBs from Mt Rothwell have all put on weight.  Churchill Island life seems to agree with them! 

A Mt Rothwell female was trapped and found to be carrying  two large pouch young. Another female which has not been trapped yet looks to be carrying pouch young as well.

 

Update No. 3  25 September 2015 -  (6 weeks post release)

Updates on the Churchill Island Eastern Barred Bandicoot release are adapted from information provided by Dr Duncan Sutherland, Senior Research Scientist, Deputy Research Manager - Phillip Island Nature Parks.

Radio-tracking of the bandicoots has continued over the last month.  The bandicoots have started to explore more of the island, in some cases trekking from one end of the island to the other.  Nests have now been found from the north tip to the south.  The radio collars have provided great insights into the movements of the bandicoots as they establish themselves in their new home.  

Trapping has shown that most of the bandicoots have gained weight since their release and are in very good condition.  All three females translocated with pouch young kept their young, some are already young at foot running around and foraging with their mum, plus we have 12 pouch young that originate from Churchill Island.  There are plenty of healthy babies on the way!

Eastern Barred Bandicoot on Churchill Island with young at foot.

Tracking collars have been temporarily removed from all the bandicoots to avoid entanglement and will be replaced with a modified design to allow them to break-away in the event of a leg entanglement.

In summary, the population is going extremely well; the bandicoots have made a successful transition to Churchill Island, have put on weight, are exploring most corners of the island and are breeding happily!  

The next update will be late October when the next round of trapping takes place.

 

Update No. 4  11 November 2015 -  (13 weeks post release)

The Eastern Barred Bandicoots continue to do well on Churchill Island.

The planned release of Eastern Barred Bandicoots to Churchill Island for 2015 was completed on 16 October 2015. In all 20 Eastern Barred Bandicoots were released onto Churchill Is. in 2015; 8 from Zoos Vic. captive populations and 12 from Mt Rothwell.  

The last 4 were translocated from Mt Rothwell, all females without pouched young to even up the sex ratio of those already released onto Churchill Island.

Results from recent trapping in late October

All but one of the females initially released onto Churchill were trapped and all had pouch young.  Of these young, 7 were large, furred and soon to be young at foot. They’re the first wild born bandicoots on Churchill Island!  

Overall, 14 bandicoots were trapped and were in very good body condition, all having gained weight since release. One of these was a sub-adult male who was originally translocated in-pouch from Mt. Rothwell.  He had tripled his weight in just over a month since last being weighed.  Another generation of Churchill Island bandicoots may not be too far away.

 

Update No. 5,  10 February 2016 -  (26 weeks post release)

The Eastern Barred Bandicoot population continues to grow and establish itself on Churchill Island. 

  • Monitoring was conducted in late December 2015 and the end of January 2016.
  • In January the team had 59 captures of 23 different individual EBBs over the 4 nights of monitoring. 

In this project so far the team have captured 7 bandicoots that were born on Churchill Island and have joined the trappable population; one of these new animals in January was a female carrying 2 pouch young of her own.  So, the third generation has arrived! 

Update No. 6, 14 April 2016 (34 weeks post release)

The Eastern Barred Bandicoot team on Churchill Island recently completed another successful round of Eastern Barred Bandicoot monitoring at Churchill Island.  Eight months on, the population continues to grow steadily.  In all 30 different individuals were captured, 5 of which had not been captured before this session.  The majority of the original founder animals continue to be seen and most of the females captured were with 1 or 2 pouch young.  Conditions on the island have stayed good enough over this dry summer that the bandicoots have remained healthy, are breeding and fresh little diggings can be found across all corners of the island.

Update No. 7,  15 June 2016 (43 weeks post release)

Results from  the June monitoring program found the population has continued to grow with 101 captures of 40 different individuals.  This is up from a total of 30 different individuals back in April.  The Eastern Barred Bandicoots captured were in good condition and most of the females were carrying pouch young. 

The good news is also that 10 months after their release, three quarters of the original founding individuals were recaptured, indicating survival rates are high on the island. 

The next monitoring session on Churchill Island will be in August 2016 which will mark the first anniversary of this trial release.

Update No. 8,  23 September 2016 (1 year and 10 weeks post release)

Results from the Eastern Barred Bandicoot monitoring on Churchill Island in August 2016. All up there were 58 different individuals captured, nearly twice as many as were seen in April, plus 37 unique pouch young.

This indicates a good breeding season and a great result for the bandicoot population.

Eastern Barred Bandicoot habitat on Churchill Island. Image: Phillip Island Nature Parks.
 
 

Update No. 9,  14 December 2016 (1 year and 4 months post release)

Results from the Eastern Barred Bandicoot monitoring on Churchill Island in December 2016. It is three months since the last Eastern Barred Bandicoot trapping session on Churchill Island and the population has grown further, with 71 unique individuals, 27 of whom had not been captured before.  This is up from 58 unique individuals captured back in September.  The team also noted that as they work across the island they see plenty of young at foot which are not entering the traps. 

An adult being released after trapping as part of the monitoring program.

A young at foot happily foraging unconcerned by the presence of the monitoring team. 

Interestingly, only a few of the captured females were breeding, and body condition of the bandicoots was generally lower than in previous sessions, the sort of signs the team might expect if the population were reaching its carrying capacity on the island. 

Update No.10,  10th March 2017

Results from the Eastern Barred Bandicoot monitoring on Churchill Island during the week ending 10th March 2017. The number of unique bandicoots captured reached an impressive 100 individuals, up from 71 last December.  More than 40 were captured for the first time during this session.  This means another rise in the population size.  The interesting development, though, is that breeding seems to have halted; the team encountered no pouch young.  Breeding in EBBs is usually depressed at this time of year, but this is a clear indications that the population size growth rate has slowed.  This slowing in population size growth rate is expected, but encouraging to see – especially when it’s not driven by predation.

With more captures more teams and more volunteer helpers took part. Duncan extends a  big thank you to everyone who helped out and witnessed the bandicoots flourishing on Churchill Island.

Update No. 11, 30 June 2017

The Eastern Barred Bandicoot team on Churchill Island completed another trapping session in mid-June to monitor the population. The results are very pleasing with lots of bandicoot diggings to be found across the island.

Breeding had recommenced with all females carrying pouch young.  This was in stark contrast to the complete absence of any pouch young back in March.  Of particular note was the capture of almost the same number of unique individuals in June (101) as in March (98), suggesting a stabilising of population density. 

The team came across some of the original founding animals, all which are at least 2 years old now and considered very good for an Eastern Barred Bandicoot in the wild.

 

Updates on the Churchill Island Eastern Barred Bandicoot release are adapted from information provided by Dr Duncan Sutherland, Senior Research Scientist, Deputy Research Manager - Phillip Island Nature Parks.

Eastern Barred Bandicoot

Philip Island Nature Parks 

 

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