It bounced out of the bag and into the limelight – meet Australia’s newest international sensation, the Woylie.
This small relative of the much larger kangaroo made its US television debut on Right This Minute, a daily 30-minute show seen by 2 million people each day, after wowing audiences on Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s (AWC)’s social media channels.
The Woylie was filmed at AWC’s Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary being released back into the wild as part of a scientific survey. Eager to get out, the Woylie suddenly bounced upwards, taking ecology intern Emily Drummond by surprise.
The video has since racked up almost 250,000 views across AWC’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn channels. And judging by the US interest, the Woylie looks set to join its marsupial kin in stealing the hearts of animal lovers around the world.
Although small, the Woylie is a solid animal and could have done some damage if it hit Emily on take-off. It measures between 28-45 centimetres from the tip of its nose to the base of its tail (about the size of a football), and its tail can add another 29 to 36 centimetres to its length. Its tail is used like another arm to pick up and carry objects it needs to build its dome-shaped nests.
Woylies are voracious diggers, turning soil in the hunt for its diet staple, truffles, along with tubers, bulbs, seeds and resins. This digging turns the topsoil, cycling nutrients, and improving aeration and water infiltration.
Sadly, Woylies are endangered, and without intervention, face extinction. It is estimated that the population of this once abundant animal has plunged to less than 15,000, mainly due to predation by foxes and feral cats. In the early 20th century, Woylie habitat was cleared for agriculture and millions were killed as pests or for the fur trade.
There are just three remnant populations of Woylies in south-west WA at Kingston, Perup and Dryandra Woodland. AWC also protects Woylies inside its fenced, feral predator-free safe havens at Karakamia, Mt Gibson, Yookamurra and Scotia Wildlife Sanctuaries, and plans to reintroduce them to Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary, as well as into Mallee Cliffs and Pilliga National Parks, in partnership with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service as part of the NSW Government’s Saving our Species program.
Heather Paterson, Communications Manager: 0476 829 523, firstname.lastname@example.org
Images/video available for publication.