Greater Bilby

© Wayne Lawler/AWC

Quick Facts

  • Scientific Name: Macrotis lagotis
  • Family: Thylacomyidae
  • Conservation status: Vulnerable
  • Estimated population: <10,000
What Is Awc Doing Brad Leue Bilby © Brad Leue/AWC

What is AWC Doing ?

AWC protects almost 10 per cent of the entire Bilby population, but with ongoing translocations, this figure is set to double in the coming years.

The key to our success with Bilbies has been the establishment of massive feral predator-free areas. We have successfully reintroduced Bilbies to six of these feral free areas, and more translocations are planned.

AWC’s Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary is estimated to protect almost 1,125 (2022 census) wild Bilbies, while another significant population of 80 (2022 census) occurs at Yookamurra Wildlife Sanctuary.

Between 2016-2018, AWC reintroduced 56 Bilbies to Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary. Since, the population is estimated to have grown to 1,770 individuals (2023 census).

AWC reintroduced Bilbies to the Pilliga in late 2018, followed by Mallee Cliffs National Park in October 2019. Prior to these translocations, Bilbies had been absent in NSW National Parks for more than 100 years. These two populations have increased over time and are estimated at 175 individuals in the Pilliga (2023 census) and 116 individuals in Mallee Cliffs (2022 census).

In 2022, a new population of Bilbies was established at Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary outside of Alice Springs. Ecohealth surveys late last year indicated that the population has successfully adapted to the new environment and the first photo evidence of a juvenile was recorded on camera trap in November.

Within the next few years, AWC properties will protect an estimated 5,000+ Bilbies.

Threats To Wildlife Awc Numbat © AWC

Threats to Species

The Bilby population continues to decline, primarily due to predation by feral cats and foxes. Altered fire regimes and competition for resources with introduced herbivores are other key factors leading to the decline of this species.

Vulnerable

Ecology

Using their strong forelimbs, Bilbies dig burrows up to three metres long to live in. They are opportunistic feeders, with a broad diet consisting of insects, seeds, bulbs, fruit and fungi.

Bilbies act as important ‘ecosystem engineers’; in the course of digging burrows and feeding, an individual Bilby turns over up to 20 tonnes of topsoil in a year.

Range and abundance

Bilbies live in a variety of habitats including grasslands, stony downs country, and desert sandplains and dunefields. They occur in patchy populations from near Broome through the Tanami and Great Sandy Deserts, and in an isolated population in south-western Queensland. Bilbies were once widespread across arid and semi-arid Australia, occupying around 70 per cent of the continent. Cats and foxes have had a catastrophic impact on the species, which has disappeared from over 80 per cent of its former range.

A second Bilby species, known as Yallara or Lesser Bilby, survived in Australia’s central deserts until the 1960s, but is now presumed to be extinct. AWC’s logo is a stylised image of the Yallara.

Sanctuaries Where You Can Find the Bilby

Wayne Lawler/AWC
New South Wales

Scotia

“Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary … a vitally important project for Australia and for the planet.” – Sir David Attenborough Scotia Wildlife...

Wayne Lawler/AWC
New South Wales

The Pilliga

Representing a landmark collaboration between AWC and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Pilliga project area protects a...

© Wayne Lawler/AWC
New South Wales

Mallee Cliffs National Park

Spanning over 58,000 hectares in western New South Wales, Mallee Cliffs National Park contains one of the largest feral-proof fences...

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