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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

9 September 2006

Australians urged to celebrate National Bilby Day


National Bilby Day, held on the second Sunday in September every year, is a chance to celebrate and learn about one Australia's cutest and most vulnerable marsupials, the iconic bilby.

"Australians are incredibly lucky to live in one of the most megadiverse countries on the planet," Senator Campbell, Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage said.

"As we come to the end of National Threatened Species Week, I encourage all Australians to pause and consider how to preserve this heritage, including the future of our precious bilbies."

Bilbies are about the size of a small cat and have soft, blue-grey fur, a distinctive white-tipped tail, have long, highly sensitive ears and a pointed snout.

"Australians may be more familiar with the chocolate versions of the bilby, which are sold at Easter as a native alternative to the usual bunny rabbits," Senator Campbell said.

Before European settlement bilbies could be found across more than 70 per cent of the Australian mainland, however, they are now limited to small pockets in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

The dramatic decline in bilby numbers over the last 100 years has been driven by land use change and threats posed by introduced species such as foxes and feral cats.

National Bilby Day was launched by Senator Campbell last year.

In 2006 National Bilby Day will be celebrated this Sunday (10 September) by Australians in a variety of ways, including the home of the Save the Bilby Fund in Charleville, Queensland will host a National Bilby Day Weekend with markets, a choir fireworks and the famous 'Bilby Brothers', Frank Manthey and Peter McRae.

"There are many ways Australians can make a difference to the future of our threatened plants and animals, ranging from responsible pet ownership to joining a local conservation group all actions, no matter how small, still count," Senator Campbell said.

For more information about the bilby go to:
http://www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/bilby.html

For photographs of Senator Campbell with a bilby go to:
http://www.deh.gov.au/minister/env/2006/gallery/index.html

Media contact: Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902

Commonwealth of Australia