A baby beton was found in a protected habitat in New South Wales (NSW) after dozens of native marsupials were reintroduced into the state’s wilderness.
The young man’s discovery, named Bella, has been hailed as an exciting and important step toward “reversing the tide of extinction.”
The wrasse was discovered last year after 55 betongs were reintroduced into Piriga State Nature Reserve, west of Narrabri on the North West Plains region.
The animals were housed in Western Australia and were brought home again in collaboration with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Australian Wildlife Service.
Of the 22 female bets released, 17 had joeys in their pouches.
The discovery of a tiny wrasse outside the porch is a sign that the species has adapted to its new home, said conservation ecologist Vicky Stokes.
“It was exciting to catch Bella, our first fully weaned brushtail beton,” Stokes said.
“We have camera images of a woman with a very heavy pouch, and we’ve been busy tracking them since their release, so we know they’re doing great.”
Ecologists were worried after last year’s bad weather and habitat flooding, but Stokes said the predator fence remained safe.
The brassiobeton is one of six betong species, two of which are now extinct.
Bettongs are nocturnal and omnivorous, spending much of their time foraging at night. They specialize in hunting truffles, but mainly feed on tubers, fruits, seeds and insects.
Feral cats and foxes have caused a devastating decline in Australia’s wild bets, said Atticus Fleming, head of the Wildlife Service.
“[Betong]has disappeared from 99% of its former range, which was once found in much of mainland Australia,” Fleming said.
“Bella’s arrival shows that the new betting population is on track to reclaim their former home in Piriga.
“This is a big step in reversing the tide of extinction in New South Wales. Great news for Beton and Piriga Forest.”