Australia looks to secure future of its iconic bilby

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-29 13:16:23|Editor: Song Lifang
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SYDNEY, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Breeding pairs of one of Australia's cutest and most iconic animals - bilby will be reintroduced to Currawinya National Park, 1,000 km east of Brisbane, it has been announced Thursday.

Although not as well recognized as some of Australia's other favorite species like the koala or kangaroo, the bilby is an adorable desert dwelling marsupial that's numbers have been dwindling as a result of foreign pests.

"The bilby is one of Queensland's 16 endangered mammals and the main threat to its existence is feral cats," Queensland State Environment Minister Steven Miles said in a statement.

In order to protect bilbies and kick start the growth of their population, a 25-square km predator-proof enclosure was constructed in 2002.

However due to flooding in 2011-2012, "the damage let feral cats back inside the enclosure where they decimated the existing bilby population," Miles said.

"Removing feral cats from inside the enclosure has been a major focus of ours for the past two years."

"Repairs to the fence have started, and 700,000 Australian dollars (536,180 U.S. dollars) will be spent maintaining and upgrading the fence over the next two years, to keep out feral cats."

Initially, 13 bilbies from Dreamworld theme park's breeding program, along with two joeys in their pouch are set to be released, but Miles hopes to have 40 in total over the coming year.