Australia

Australia releases rare marsupial bilby into the wild in NSW

Bilby. File photo Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Bilbies feed on plant roots, ants, beetles and spiders

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

Bilbies - small nocturnal mammals with long, rabbit-like ears - were last recorded in the state in 1912.

But now 30 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.

Image copyright 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 Australia's most populous state before the start of World War One following the introduction of predators including cats and foxes.

Bilbies are currently listed as vulnerable species.

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