Image: © Brad Leue/ Australian Wildlife Conservancy

Third Population to Help Avert Extinction of the Northern Bettong


The Animal Facts Editorial Team


May 29, 2023 11:40 am


Mount Zero-Taravale, Queensland, Australia

Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) have announced the establishment of a third population of the threatened northern bettong as part of efforts to save the species from extinction. The release occurred at Mount Zero-Taravale Wildlife Sanctuary (Gugu Badhun country) in north-east Queensland. It returns the species to an area where they have not been seen in almost two decades.

Northern bettongs are one of the 20 most threatened mammal species in Australia. Until this week only two populations existed, one on the Lamb Range with around 1,000 individuals and a smaller population on the Mount Carbine Tableland with as few as 30 individuals estimated remaining. Over the past 20 years two other populations have gone extinct, one at Mount Windsor and a second on the Coane Range.

With an urgent need to secure a new population of the northern bettong the AWC have worked with Traditional Owners and members of the Northern Bettong Recovery Team to translocate a new population to Mount Zero-Taravale. 49 adult bettongs made the move having been taken from three subpopulations within the Lamb Range. This will ensure the new population is genetically diverse and viable in to the future.

Mount Zero Taravale is home to northern Australia’s first large, feral predator-free fenced safe haven covering 950 hectares. Finishing construction in October 2022 the fenced haven has now had all feral predators such as cats and foxes removed making it safe for small mammals such as these bettongs.

Buluwai Indigenous Corporation Ranger, Ivan Brim, was part of the sourcing team for the animals that came from Davies Creek in the Lamb Range.


“It feels so good to work together to bring the Northern Bettong from Buluwai Country to Mount Zero-Taravale,” Brim said. “This place now looks like home, and this will help the Northern Bettong grow and succeed.”

Before being released each bettong underwent a health check.

Felicity L’Hotellier, AWC Senior Field Ecologist who lives and works at Mount Zero-Taravale, welcomed the Northern Bettongs to the sanctuary. She said the establishment of the third population is a critical step in staving off extinction of the species. 


“The much-needed homecoming for the Northern Bettong has been a significant and rewarding project for all those involved,” L’Hotellier explained. “While we’ve been monitoring the last two remaining populations across the Lamb Range and Mount Carbine Tableland in recent years, we have also been conducting extensive habitat restoration for the species at Mount Zero-Taravale. This has included re-establishing a healthy fire regime over the last 20 years, landscape-scale habitat restoration over the last decade, leading to the planning and construction of the exclosure fence, removing the feral predators and finally, sourcing enough individuals to establish a new, genetically robust population.” 


“All that work has paid off now that the species is back here on country within its former range. We know that small mammals like this can flourish when feral cats are removed from the equation. If the population grows at the rate we anticipate, the Mount Zero-Taravale population could approach 500 bettongs within four to five years. A population of this size within a secure safe haven not only acts as insurance against extinction of the species but can also provide a source for founders in possible future reintroductions.”

AWC have long-term plans in place to monitor the relocated individuals through radio transmitters. A strategy will also be developed to introduce the northern bettong outside the fenced haven helping to increase their populations even further.

The translocation of the Northern Bettongs and the construction of the fence was made possible thanks to grant funding and support from the Commonwealth Government’s Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water Environment Restoration Fund, Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science, Oak Foundation, WIRES, as well as donations from AWC supporters around the world.  

Northern Bettong Release by Australian Wildlife Conservancy

Image: © Brad Leue/ Australian Wildlife Conservancy

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More on Marsupials!

As a marsupial these northern bettongs will hopefully soon have pouches full of joeys. Learn what else makes them special on our website.

Our Favourite Northern Bettong Fact!

The northern bettong is one of the eight bettong species with three of these being considered extinct in the wild. They are considered one of the 20 mammal species at the greatest risk of extinction within Australia.

Image: © Brad Leue/ Australian Wildlife Conservancy

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