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The threatened species we don’t talk about

Published 07 Sep 2023

Every year on Threatened Species Day, a certain group of animals get a lot of attention. The unusual Plains-wanderer, known for inhabiting its own branch of the evolutionary tree. The Night Parrot, celebrated for its mysterious ability to elude researchers and bird watchers for decades at a time. The Bilby, a disappearing national emblem. 

We love hearing stories about these famed enigmas, but today, we’re shifting the focus to the lesser knowns. Just as intriguing, but rarely in the headlines. Here, we highlight four threatened species existing on the periphery of the spotlight, waiting for your attention. 

Orange-bellied Parrot

(Neophema chrysogaster)

You might have heard of Swift Parrots, but many people aren’t aware of their orange-bellied cousins. Like 'swifties', Orange-bellied Parrots mate in Tasmania, mostly confined to near-coastal areas of the south-west between Birchs Inlet in Macquarie Harbour and Louisa Bay on the southern coast.

They nest in hollowed eucalypts and feed on moorlands and heathlands in the summer. After breeding, they migrate north to south-eastern South Australia and southern Victoria to feed in salt marshes during winter, where they face habitat loss due to the urban development on the coast. There are believed to be less than 100 left in the wild. 

Orange-bellied Parrot. Photo Bruce Thomson.

Edgbaston Goby

(Chlamydogobius squamigenus)

Beneath some of our country's driest and most remote regions lies the Great Artesian Basin, a vast subterranean reservoir stretching through Queensland, the Northern Territory, New South Wales, and South Australia. 

On Edgbaston Reserve, it nourishes what scientists have called the most significant natural springs for global biodiversity in the entire Great Artesian Basin and one of the most important in the world. Chances are you're not familiar with the critically endangered Edgbaston Goby, found in just a handful of artesian springs and standing as one of Australia’s most endangered fish. 

Gobies grow to about 6cm at most. During courtship, males extend their fins and dance around their chosen nest site. Male Edgbaston Gobies select spots for females to lay eggs, often in caves beneath rocks or vegetation. Males guard the eggs until they hatch. The hatchlings occupy the very shallowest parts of the springs until big enough to compete for space with the adults in the population. 

Invasive Mosquito Fish (Gambusia holbooki), feral pigs, and threats to the quality and quantity of water in the Great Artesian Basin are their primary threats.  

Edgbaston Goby. Photo by Gunther Schmida.

Eastern Barred Bandicoot

(Perameles gunnii)

Not only are bandicoots incredibly endearing, (they’re closely related to bilbies), but they also play a vital role in maintaining flora diversity and ecosystem function. 

Have you ever spotted little conical holes known as snout pokes on the forest floor or even in your garden? As bandicoots search for underground insects and larvae, they leave behind charming reminders of their passage. These diggings help to aerate the soil and assist seed germination. 

As fungi make up a large part of their diet, they disperse fungal spores as they move through the landscape. The Eastern Barred Bandicoot has two separate populations in Tasmania and Victoria. Threats include predation by foxes and cats, as well as habitat loss. If you see one in your yard, ensure you don't confuse it with an introduced rodent. Bush Heritage contributes to their conservation through our Midlands Conservation Partnership in Tasmania.

Eastern Barred Bandicoot. Photo by Bruce Thomson.

New Holland Mouse

(Pseudomys novaehollandiae) 

Can fire revive a species? The New Holland Mouse (or Pookila, derived from the Ngarigo word bugila) is a small native rodent with large dark eyes, soft rounded ears, and a long dusky-brown tail. The mouse's dorsal fur is grey-brown with white-grey underparts. 

At our Friendly Beaches Reserve we've teamed up with the truwana rangers to reintroduce cultural burning in the hope of creating an ideal habitat for the mouse. 

Located in Tasmania’s east, Friendly Beaches is part of a coastal lowland heathland network. This habitat is a favourite for the New Holland Mouse as it feeds on a variety of seeds, flowers, fungi, and small invertebrates. 

They nest in sandy-soil burrows and are found along the south-eastern Australian coast, from Tasmania to south-east Queensland. They’re range has drastically declined and their habitat is fragmented. Threats to the New Holland Mouse include loss of habitat, inappropriate fire regimes, predation from cats, foxes and introduced rodents.

New Holland Mouse. Photo Bruce Thomson.

Eighty-seven years ago today, the extinction of the Thylacine brought light to the need to protect our unique flora and fauna. Today, just beyond the spotlight, adjacent to the headlines, are hundreds of other species in need of our attention.  

Sign up to our newsletter to learn about the species we protect across our reserves and partnerships and stay up to date with our conservation efforts around the country.  

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