Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Star of the Barkly thrives with VIP treament: living proof for the need for a bilby sanctuary

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Bilby
Lukkanu the Bilby.
Photo courtesy Tennant & District Times.

Kate Foran, Tennant & District Times

We have a beautiful follow-up story this week!

Every year around Easter time, the gorgeous, tiny, native marsupial, the Bilby, comes into focus as an Australian variation of the Easter Bunny.

Sadly, the Bilby, which has happily lived on the continent of Australia for 15 million years, is now endangered.

On 1 November last year, Gladys Brown, Dianne Stokes, Ann Marie and Janita Waistcoat and Joyce Benson happened upon a Bilby that had been hit by a car, out bush north of Tennant Creek.

They found a tiny joey in her pouch and brought him into the Barkly Vet clinic for a checkup.

Weighing just 72 grams, he seemed healthy and was placed into the safekeeping of Wildlife Carer, Caz Hepburn who named him Lukkanu (meaning Star in Warumungu language)

Little did Caz know, exactly how much of a ‘Star’ little Lukkanu would become! Raising him safely through those first few months, Caz delivered him to the Alice Springs Desert Park in December where the research team celebrated his arrival. As the ONLY wild-born Bilby brought into care, in the whole NT in over a decade, Lukkanu brings a unique gene quality into their breeding program, so the little fella is receiving absolute VIP treatment!

Female Bilbies are being sourced from all over Australia and will be presented to the growing Lukkanu for breeding.

Approximately 7 months old now, he has grown to a mighty 800-900gm, and is doing great!

Bilbies, like other marsupials, can pause their growing joeys during poor seasons, and in the wild, normally have a lifespan of about six years.

In the softer life of the captivity, they live longer and breed more often, living the good life of constant food sources and well-managed health. Combining these factors, Lukkanu is destined to Father a multitide of future generations of Bilbies!

It cannot be overstated how important his rescue story is, to the future of Bilbies. Local elders have told us that they had never seen a Bilby in the wild, such is their rarety!

Sadly, they are under constant attack from feral wildlife in the bush, particularly from wild cats. Proposals have been made, regarding a number of sites around Tennant Creek to create cat-proof sanctuaries. Lukkanu’s story only goes to support such proposals.

We owe it to the future sustenance of creatures like Lukkanu who belong in this landscape and were here LONG before we were!

Tennant & District Times 29 April 2022

This article appeared in the Tennant & District Times, 29 April 2022.

Related story: Meet Lukkanu – the star of the Barkly!

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