Bilbies were common in many different habitats throughout Australia until European settlement and occupied more than 70% of mainland Australia. Predation, predominantly by European red foxes and feral cats, resulted in bilby populations now only occurring in the isolated arid and semi-arid areas of Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland. It has disappeared from 80% of its former range.
The Queensland wild bilby population is estimated to be between 400 and 600 animals. It is scattered over 100,000sq.km in far western Queensland.
This population is the most threatened population of bilbies in Australia. It has declined in range during the past 10 years and is continuing to do so. Queensland bilbies are genetically distinct from those which live in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
Of the six bandicoot species that once lived in the arid and semi-arid areas of Australia, only the bilby remains. It is listed as ‘endangered’ in Queensland and ‘vulnerable’ nationally. It is the only surviving representative of the sub-family Thylacomyinae and one of the few medium-sized native mammals remaining in arid Australia.
The most critical threat to bilbies and many of our other native species is predation from feral cats and introduced foxes. Bilbies also compete for food and burrows with rabbits. Farming animals such as sheep and cattle, which destroy the habitat of the bilby and compact the soil, are also a potential threat.
Other threats include changed fire regimes, clearing for development, overgrazing and a range of water and land management practices.
Greater Bilby National Recovery Plan
In March 2015, Save the Bilby Fund initiated the Greater Bilby Recovery Summit. It brought together 39 experts who represented 29 stakeholder groups involved in bilby conservation.
The Fund is committed to delivering on the 2015 summit report and interim conservation plan and currently acts as the Secretariat for the National Greater Bilby Recovery Team and is working with all stakeholders to develop a new National Recovery Plan for the species based on the outcomes of the Summit.