A major milestone in reintroducing the Eastern Bettong to Victoria has been reached with the completion of a predator proof fence at Orana Sanctuary.
The fence has been completed through collaboration between Odonata, Friends of Mulligans Flat, and Tiverton Agriculture Impact Fund.
Sites like Orana Sanctuary are vital to re-establishing native animals back into their natural habitat and increasing biodiversity, an important measure of ecosystem resilience.
Orana Sanctuary, located 40 minutes from Bendigo, is the fourth site within the South East Australia Sanctuary Operations Network (SEASON) run by Odonata.
Odonata are a national not for profit organisation with a focus on biodiversity as well as social and commercial outcomes.
Predator proof sanctuaries have proven to be effective in protecting Australian mammals that are endangered due to the impacts of climate, bushfire risk, invasive species and habitat loss.
Eastern Bettong were previously found across South East Australia, but invasive species from post-European arrival have driven them out of their natural habitats.
Ms Annette Rypalski, Biodiversity Director at Odonata, operates the threatened species breeding programs at Mt Rothwell Sanctuary, just outside of Melbourne.
“The Eastern Bettong could be best described as a one-foot tall kangaroo, except more rounded, with white bristly fur.” said Ms Rypalski, “They also have tiny little arms with sharp digging claws and powerful legs.”
“They play an important role in the ecosystem as they can dig conical holes in compacted earth which has a positive impact on soil health and ecosystem resilience by spreading microbes and bacteria for native plants.
Ms Ripalski said “monitoring and research is vital to understanding the cost of declining native species, as well as discovering new and amazing ways these animals help us.”
Building the six-foot-high fence surrounding the sanctuary is the first step for Odonata with feral eradication next on the agenda.
“Removing pest animals completely can be quite an art, it needs careful consideration and good timing. said Ms Rypalski, “One intelligent fox can take months or even years to out-smart!”
“We use a range of techniques such as fox-scat detecting dingoes, infrared cameras, and drone surveillance to catch pests.”
CEO of Odonata Sam Marwood said the bushfires over the Summer period were a big wakeup call for many Australians.
“Over the past few months, we have seen an influx of interest and support in conservation efforts.” Mr Marwood said.
“Most Australians have never even seen these unique creatures before, let alone have one hop around their backyard as they should.”
Mr Marwood has also seen businesses wanting to be more involved in biodiversity conservation.
Odonata helps these businesses to get involved faster and more effectively than they would be able to on their own.
“Our partners at Tiverton Agriculture Impact Fund who own the Orana Farm and Sanctuary are very engaged and dedicated, they can’t wait to bring the Eastern Bettong back home to this beautiful landscape.”
You can follow, get involved and find out more information at the Mt Rothwell Facebook page, Odonata website, Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary website and the Tiverton Agriculture Impact Fund website.