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Australia releases rare marsupial bilby into the wild

Bilby. File photoImage copyright
Science Photo Library

Image caption

Bilbies feed on plant roots, ants, beetles and spiders

A rare marsupial that once ran wild in Australia has been reintroduced into New South Wales for the first time in more than a century.

Sightings of bilbies – small nocturnal mammals with long, rabbit-like ears – were last recorded in 1912.

Thirty captive-bred animals were released into a large predator-free enclosure near the town of Narrabri, northwest of Sydney.

This is seen as a major victory in efforts to save them from extinction.

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Getty Images

Image caption

Royal visit: Prince George was clearly impressed when he saw a bilby at Sydney’s zoo in 2014

However, without the protection of a 32km (20 miles) fence they probably would not survive, the BBC’s Phil Mercer in Sydney reports.

Bilbies – who feed on plant roots, ants, beetles and spiders – disappeared in New South Wales before the start of World War One following the introduction of predators including cats and foxes.

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