The Southern Brown Bandicoot Dilemma- Hans Brunner
The SBB dilemma
For the last 13 years, the nationally endangered Southern Brown Bandicoot has been proclaimed with great hype and expectation as a flagship species in the local biosphere region. They were still prevalent on the Mornington Peninsula and in the Frankston area including the Pines. Sadly, because of incompetence and to a degree of unwillingness by DEPI and Parks Victoria, this species has now become totally extinct on the Pen. and in the Frankston area including the Pines.
The Southern Brown Bandicoot Recovery Group (SBBRG) was also not able to arrest this loss. Their current strategies to just provide corridors for them in order to restore them to where they have been lost has also failed. Wildlife corridors are extremely appealing to most people, but there is very little understanding of the many implications and difficulties involved. For example, what fauna species are still there to use them, is the vegetation type suitable along the whole length of it and can the wildlife to use it be properly protected form dogs, foxes, cats and cars etc. And where would such a linkages come from and lead into. Is it worth to construct expensive infrastructures for the animals that may be left in the area.
In one instance, $20m dollars were spent on underpasses in the Pines for the Southern Brown Bandicoot but there were no bandicoots left to use them.
During a recently held Biolink Forum at the RBGC the great enthusiasm and passion for these links has not changed. The SBBRG still insists to just only relay on providing corridors for bandicoots. Some of the proposed corridors are at least ten km in length and without fences to protect the animals from predators.They recommend to use “functional wildlife corridors between state nature reserves and to wildlife corridors in Frankston from the RBGC” but at the same time believe that fencing of the Pines is a lost cause and time could be better spent on other issues. Why then, create a 10 km long corridor from the RBGC to the Pines and to other similar distant places when there is no intention to re-introduce and properly protect bandicoots in the Pines and in those other reserves? When considering that we have dismally failed to protect bandicoots in at least 12 conservation reserves on the Pen. and in Frankston, it begs the question whether they can realistically be expected to just survive in narrow,long and unprotected corridors.
Fortunately, some people of the Natural Resources Conservation League of Victoria agree with me and recommend “Fencing of key nodes looks likely being one of the immediate priorities. This would include the Pines first and foremost”.
If this type of absolute protection for bandicoots is not accepted, then. the other currently recommended strategies of just corridors will create a much greater threat to bandicoots then that of dogs, foxes, cats, cars and developers put together!
As if it could not get worse. There are suggestions to introduce the Eastern Barred Bandicoot onto Churchill Island, French Island, Woodley School Reserve and even onto Quail Island, all being habitat that should be reserved and used for the SBB’s.
It looks like our flagship species, the SBB is now well and truly torpedoed and sunk and the governments at all levels do not seem to care.