The Greater Bilby (Macrotis lagotis) is an iconic Australian marsupial that is known for its conservation significance and high cultural importance to Traditional Owners. Nationally listed as Vulnerable, the bilby is suffering an ongoing decline in range and abundance due to pressures such as habitat loss and degradation, altered fire regimes, and introduced animals like cats, foxes, camels and unmanaged livestock. While the bilby populations in Queensland and the Northern Territory are relatively well-studied, there is not as much known about bilbies in Western Australia.
The West Kimberley region, especially the Dampier Peninsula, La Grange region and southern parts of the Fitzroy River catchment, appears to be a stronghold for wild bilby populations. Consequently, more data is needed from this region to inform land use planning and development decisions, as well as assist ongoing management.
In the Fitzroy River catchment, bilbies occur across a range of tenures such as pastoral leases, Native Title lands and conservation estates, and a collaborative approach is required to effectively conserve and manage the species. This project is bringing together on-Country Traditional Owner land managers and researchers to build management capacity and help secure the future for bilbies in the Fitzroy River catchment. Project teams are collaborating with pastoralists to undertake studies of bilby populations and provide outcomes for effective coexistence of pastoral land use and the persistence of wild bilbies. This project is providing an accurate understanding of where bilbies occur and how they use their habitat in the Fitzroy River catchment. This information is being used to identify and implement on-ground actions that are helping ease the impacts of threats to bilbies.
As well as gaining an understanding of the status of bilbies in the catchment, this project is contributing to species recovery planning and threat abatement programs. Broader natural resource management and conservation planning is also being supported through the research. The project is extending existing bilby research and management efforts and contribute to the Kimberley Bilby Network. It is also linking with work outside the catchment, such as the Dampier Peninsula Bilby Offset Project and bilby projects in the Pilbara.
This project is:
This research is happening in the Fitzroy River catchment in Western Australia.
This project is being led by Dr Stephen van Leeuwen at the Western Australia Department of Biodiversity, Parks & Attractions (DBCA). Dr van Leeuwen is being assisted by other researchers at DBCA, Traditional Owner ranger teams and the Kimberley Land Council.
Stephen van Leeuwen, WA Dept of Biodiversity, Conservation & Attractions
(08) 9219 9042