Buy a chocolate Bilby instead of a bunny, which will support the campaigns to ensure the bilbies survival for the future.
Buy a chocolate Bilby instead of a bunny, which will support the campaigns to ensure the bilbies survival for the future. Department of Environment

Why you need to choose a bilby over a bunny this Easter

FOR weeks now in supermarkets we have been inundated with chocolate bunnies wrapped in foil heralding Easter's approach.

Conservationists are left wondering why one of our native marsupials cannot share the limelight.

Ignorance of the bilby and its fast-declining population are great concerns for those who love this unassuming little mammal.

Having to compete with rabbits for food and habitat, the bilby is struggling to survive in the most arid regions of Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland.

Also known as the rabbit-eared bandicoot, the Bilby once occupied 70 per cent of the continent.

Foxes, feral cats, mining and drought have reduced the population dramatically to about 10,000.

To mitigate this significant loss, organisations like Bush Heritage and Save the Bilby are trying to conserve its numbers.

Bush heritage is working with the Birriliburu and Central Desert Land communities in identifying suitable Bilby habitat, tracking and monitoring burrow systems.

The rangers are eager to protect an animal that has co-existed with Aboriginal people for thousands of years and are participating with ecologists to ensure the bilbies' survival through the National Threatened Species Fund.

Setting up night cameras to record nocturnal behaviour will be a valuable aid in furthering knowledge of behaviour.

The Save the Bilby Fund is engaged in the National Recovery Plan.

This involves managing the Bilby Fence in the Carrawinya National Park in South West Queensland, undertaking captive breeding programs and releasing animals in protected areas.

Community education is also important.

Bilbies are expert burrowers, digging complex tunnels two metres deep and three metres long for daytime shelter and raising young.

Termite mounds, grass tussocks and shrubbery provide opportune sites for burrowing.

One to three young are born between March and May.

The babies drink milk from the mother's eight teats. After two and a half months, they leave the pouch to be weaned on a diet of termites, ants, larvae, seeds, fruit and fungi.

Life is extremely harsh for these desert survivors.

Each Easter, try to forego the bunny treat.

Instead, grab a chocolate Bilby and support the campaigns that will ensure the bilbies survival for the future.