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long-nosed bandicoot

North Head in partnership with Sydney Harbour federation Trust - gayamagal land

Saving Sydney's long-nosed bandicoots

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On a glorious Sydney day, there’s no better place to be than crossing the Harbour on the Manly ferry. As you look out to the east, you’re not just seeing the Sydney Heads - you’re looking at habitat for an endangered colony of Long-nosed Bandicoots, thankfully monitored and protected by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy and their partners.

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Image: Sydney Harbour Federation Trust

North Head -Long-nosed bandicoot being released during the small mammal survey Kayla Johns

Long-nosed Bandicoots (Perameles nasuta) are marsupial gardeners, turning over the soil as they look for insects and plant roots. The small conical holes they leave behind help seeds to germinate. And they are wonderfully designed, with their pouches facing backwards so they don’t fill with soil when they dig. 

Image: K Johnstone/ AWC


Surveying the damage from the fire in 2020.

Image: J Clarke/ AWC

Why is the long-nosed bandicoot colony at North head at risk?

Land clearing has meant the habitat of the Long-nosed Bandicoot has been fragmented, isolating this small population on North Head. This weakens their genetics and creates breeding depressions.


The bandicoots are also at risk from predation by feral cats and foxes - always a problem for native species - and being hit by cars in the National Park.


The wild card threat was a hazard reduction burn in October 2020 that jumped containment lines and burned through 62 hectares of native bush.

‘That fire was a terrible setback. We lost cameras and data and a lot of critically endangered Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub,’ says Wildlife Ecologist Dr Viyanna Leo. AWC focussed on setting up habitat tunnels and food and water stations between unburnt patches of vegetation, so the Long-nosed Bandicoots and other native species were able to survive this event. ‘It was such a great relief when we surveyed, and found that the native species were prevailing at North Head and, in some cases, increasing in numbers. The resilience of Australian fauna never ceases to amaze!’ 


Setting up the habitat tunnel network to save the surviving bandicoot population 

Image: C Thomas/ AWC


Dr Viyanna Leo setting up catch and release traps to monitor the Long-nosed Bandicoots

Image: C Thomas/ AWC

AWC has been involved in conservation at North Head for ten years. ‘Long term monitoring is what shows the importance of collecting data consistently. Once a year AWC assists National Parks and Wildlife in monitoring the population of Long-nosed Bandicoots right across the headland to ensure the population and individuals are healthy,’ says Leo. ‘That’s how we know the colony is becoming more stable and genetically diverse.’

watch this great video about AWC featuring Sir David Attenborough and professor Tim Flannery

Video supplied by AWC

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Image: W Vile/ AWC

AWC recognises that this project is a really successful partnership between many stakeholders. With guidance from AWC, National Parks and Wildlife and the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust installed more speed humps and signs to make drivers aware they need to look out for native species, especially at night. And with National Parks and Wildlife, they are monitoring for predators and removing them from the area.

The partnership and project are so important to conservation, particularly as North Head sits on the doorstep of the biggest city in Australia.


‘And when you are visiting,’ Dr Leo reminds us, 'don’t forget to slow down.’

The Big Picture Collective is proud to donate to Australian Wildlife Conservancy.

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Image: Sydney Harbour Federation Trust 

Every one of julie's limited edition Long-nosed bandicoot portraits sold helps to fund Australian Wildlife Conservancy.

'I loved painting this sweet-faced bandicoot with its long whiskery nose and gentle eyes,' says Julie. 'It's a wonderful thing that a threatened species like this - even so close to the busiest city in the country - can recover so well with the rigorous monitoring and sound conservation work of AWC, Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, NPWS and Manly Council. This is exactly the kind of teamwork we need to be able to save native species and protect Australia's incredible biodiversity'.

tippo bandicoot gloves