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Green challenges

Thinking global and acting local, Julie Grundy takes on any challenge we throw at her.

It's time for a visit from the Easter... bilby?

Bilby

Bilby at Sydney Wildlife World

Credit: D Coetzee via Wikimedia Commons

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It’s nearly Easter and that means it’s time for a long weekend and a bit of chocolate. Or a lot of chocolate if you’re young or easily tempted!

Easter is generally a lot more eco-friendly than Christmas - it’s not all about conspicuous consumption. But there’s still a way you can do a little bit for the environment this Easter.

You’ve probably heard of the very cute and extremely endangered bilby, a native marsupial that’s a lot like a small bandicoot. As part of the fundraising to help preserve the little critters, you can buy a chocolate Easter Bilby instead of an Easter Bunny.

It seems appropriate, since rabbits are not only an introduced species in Australia, they’ve done a lot of damage. They’re so cute and fluffy, but they just aren’t a good fit for our landscape.

Bilbies are unique to Australia, and used to be found all over the continent in dry areas. They like to burrow into the ground, and get all their water from the insects and seeds they eat (just like koalas).

There are only 600 left in the wild, which is a real shame. Partly this is because humans have moved into their habitats, and partly because feral cats eat them and wild rabbits compete with them for the same food.

To help them out, people are breeding them in captivity and re-establishing groups of them in areas where they used to live. It’s working pretty well so far, with three groups started in Western Australia, South Australia and New South Wales.

I’ve bought Easter Bilbies for my nieces and nephews a few times before. Previously, they were too young to think much beyond the chocolate! But I’m hoping to chat with the oldest girl about bilbies this year. Not as a lecture, but just enough so that we can look for some next time we go to the zoo together. I hope this is a good way to introduce kids to some of our special native animals in a fun way - what do you think?