Genetic Rescue

The eastern barred bandicoot is extinct in
the wild in Victoria. We have a captive bandicoot population that has lost a lot of genetic
variation. What we are doing here is a genetic rescue, the aim of genetic rescue is to restore
lost population fitness and genetic variation to the Victorian eastern barred bandicoot.
We do this by crossing Tasmanian males with Victorian females. The offspring from this
program will be released back into the wild in fenced reserves in Victoria, as well as
two islands that are earmarked for releases. When you bring bandicoots from Tasmania, you
want to make sure they’re disease free. So the individuals, the males that we bought
across were tested very vigorously. We swab the animals, we microchip every single bandicoot.
By following each individual, we can say, well, you know, what’s the fitness of these
individuals?- and don’t forget that genetically, we expect the fitness to go up. So what we
are trying to do here is make sure the genetics of these populations is right. We want to
overcome these inbreeding problems and we want to make sure that when we release these
animals, that we have very healthy animals from a genetic point of view. This is one
very important aspect that we think is critical in terms of ensuring that these threatened
species, will eventually, in the future, no longer be threatened.

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