The Eastern Bettong may have lost out in the contest to become the ACT’s mammal emblem but its future is looking secure following its listing on the ACT’s Threatened Native Species List.
The small kangaroo-like marsupial (Bettongia gaimardi) received the listing following a formal recommendation from the ACT Scientific Committee which identified that it needed the future protection the listing would bring.
ACT Environment Minister Mick Gentleman said that Eastern Bettongs were once very common around Canberra but became extinct on mainland Australia almost 100 years ago following the introduction of foxes and increased land clearing and livestock grazing activities.
“The ACT Government brought 60 Eastern Bettongs from Tasmania, the only place they are now found in the wild, to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and Mulligan’s Flat Woodland Sanctuary in 2011 and 2012, where the small kangaroo-like marsupials have thrived and become extraordinarily popular with residents and visitors alike,” Mr Gentleman said.
“We estimate there are at least 160 animals in Mulligan’s Flat Woodland Sanctuary and 70 in Tidbinbilla.”
Mr Gentleman said that the Eastern Bettongs are playing an important role in restoring the ACT’s grassy box-gum woodland, which is a threatened ecological community.
“As they dig for truffles to eat they are working as ‘ecosystem-engineers’, improving soil conditions, water infiltration and habitats for other organisms,” he said.
Mr Gentleman said that he has listed the Eastern Bettong in the Threatened Native Species List as Regionally Conservation Dependent.
“Listing an animal is formal recognition of the need for ongoing management to conserve the species in the ACT,” Mr Gentleman said.