Direction Australia, where mini-kangaroos have been reintroduced in the south of the country, more than 100 years after their disappearance.
You might not know it, but the Tasmanian bettongia (also known as the bushy-tailed bettongia) is a small, rabbit-sized marsupial native to southeastern Australia and eastern of Tasmania.
This mini-kangaroo once populated more than 60% of Australia before falling victim to cats, foxes and land clearing after European settlement more than two centuries ago.
This relatively unknown species was reintroduced to the Yorke Peninsula (South Australia), almost 100 years after its disappearance. Indeed, scientists have released 120 specimens into the wild to see if they can survive.
As AFP points out, the population of bettongies amounted to tens of millions of individuals. Today, that number hovers between 12,000 and 18,000. The hairballs were kept in protected enclosures and a few pockets in Western Australia.
The small creatures thrive, welcomed the researchers this Friday, June 19. According to them, they managed to trap 85 bushy-tailed bettongies. They also found that 40% of them were born on the peninsula while 42 of the 45 females carried young in their pouch.
” It’s fantastic to see so many new animals ,” said Derek Sandow, environmentalist for the Northern and Yorke Landscape Committee.
Their return to South Australia was made possible by an intensive cat and fox control programme, Derek Sandow explained. But that’s not all ! A “non-watertight” fence was also installed. It consists in reducing the passage of predators, without excluding them completely.
Despite its tiny size, the Tasmanian bettongia is known for its strength: “It ‘s a little ankle-sized kangaroo , a mini-kangaroo on steroids if you will. They have very powerful hind legs, they carry their young in their pocket, like a kangaroo does, but they only weigh one and a half kilos ,” the expert told AFP.
Finally, these marsupials play an important role in the Australian environment: “ They dig a lot. A small bettongie can move tons of soil per year. They burrow into the soil, creating small microhabitats for water infiltration and seed establishment. They therefore play a very important role in the ecosystem ”.