The Bilby Brothers
Frank Manthey OAM… “The Bilby Man”
Co-Founder of the Save the Bilby Fund
Frank, a former Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Ranger, following the tragic loss of his wife in 1996 established the Save the Bilby Fund with Co-Founder Peter McRae and dedicated the rest of his life to preserving what remains of our magnificent Australian landscape and the many unique and precious animals that call this country home.
Frank has committed himself to this cause in the interests of our next generations of young Australians and lives and breathes by the David Suzuki quote: “We are one brief generation in the long march of time; the future is not ours to erase", David Suzuki 1993.
Frank has been awarded Australian Geographic's Conservationist of the Year in 2001 and received and Australian Order of Merit OAM award in 2012. For his commitment to conservation and his life’s work focused on Saving the Bilby and educating the Australian and global community about the plight of our precious native species under continuing threat in the wild.
In 2005 Frank was successful in convincing the Federal Government to recognise the Greater Bilby as an iconic species by declaring the second Sunday in September each year as National Bilby Day… to date the Bilby is the only Australian animalwith its own national day!
Peter McRae… “Father of the Queensland bilbies”
Co-founder of Save the Bilby Fund
Peter has been a zoologist with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service based in Charleville for over 30 years. What began as a short stint in the west became a life’s work observing and documenting the unpredictable cycles of Queensland’s vast inland and its plants and animals, and inspiring volunteers, students and residents along the way.
Focusing on the remaining small populations of the bilby on Queensland’s Channel Country plains, Peter has worked in some of the harshest and most remote areas in Australia — often alone. This research has spanned three decades, and provided insights into their diet, ecology, behaviour and conservation. He established the first captive breeding facilities for bilbies in Queensland, and designed and built the Currawinya fence with teams of Conservation Volunteers. He released the captive-bred bilbies in 2005, and spent months spotlighting and radio-tracking. The population slowly built up over 5 years to an exciting estimate of around 300 animals. Unfortunately, the last couple of years have been devoted to the painstaking eradication of cats which breached the fence following the wet seasons of 2010–11.
Peter has also established the Charleville Botanical Reserve, which showcases major vegetation types of the eastern mulga lands, searched for yellow-footed rock wallabies through the remote stony ranges west of Charleville, and scoured the west for rare and endangered plants. He is an old-school naturalist, and his 30 years of field work have provided rare insights into a country that is far from a ‘dead heart’.
His quest and the challenges he was facing in gaining support was what attracted Frank to join with him to establish Save the Bilby Fund … Welcome ‘The Bilby Brothers’! The fight to bring the Queensland bilby back was on!!