This morning we were up at 5:00am to head up to Hamilton with our friend to help her with work. Going to work with a friend may not sound like the most exciting way to spend a day on vacation, but when the task for the day was checking traps for endangered Eastern Barred Bandicoot, there was no way we could resist.
Hamilton Parklands is a 100-hectare predator proof enclosure which is home to the last 'wild' mainland population of this species, one which is now considered 'extinct in the wild'.
Over the course of the morning, ourselves along with our pal, the program co-coordinator and two local volunteers, walked several trap lines doing a total of 8 kilometres to check 56 traps. Our goal was to trap 4 females to be transported to Werribee Zoo to join their breeding program.
Our first bandicoot was a young female, a perfect candidate for the program. We watched as she was weighed, had her health examined and was micro-chipped.
In total we caught 9 bandicoots, 3 females for the program and 6 males. The males we released, each of us taking a turn to set one free.
The bandicoots themselves are lovely little animals, with their soft grey and cream striped coats. Their nature is lovely too, they were all quite relaxed about being handled, and then bounded off through the Kangaroo Grass upon release.
We also found 4 traps containing much messier and more aggressive Common Brushtail Possums, which only made us appreciate the sweet, little bandicoots even more. This was most likely a once in a lifetime opportunity for us, and we are very grateful we got the chance to spend some time with these beautiful animals.
It will be an absolute travesty if we lose this species, as we have lost so many Australian mammals already. Predation is the main threat to small mammals, and I beg anyone who owns a cat to keep it contained, especially at night. Native birds and mammals are not equipped to deal with these voracious predators, and it's up to everyone to play their part to conserve our native fauna. Once these species are lost, they are NEVER coming back.
By mid-morning we said our goodbyes and set off on the long journey home. We had views of the Grampians to the west for a while and then stopped in Elmhurst to eat lunch at the park.
In Bendigo, we stopped off for a quick look at the Big Flower and Rosalind Park, but the sweltering temperature and abundance of flying foxes meant we didn't stick around long.
Back on the road we took the Murray Valley Highway on the southern side of the Murray River, stopping off at Koonoomoo for a quick photo opportunity at the Big Strawberry.
By the time we crossed the Murray back into New South Wales, we had had enough for the day, so we booked into a motel in Tocumwal for the night.