An Interview with Frank Manthey, Co-Founder of Save the Bilby Fund
1. Where do the proceeds from the Save The Bilby Fund go?
To maintain fences, tracking collars, captive breeding program and scientific research.
2. What companies donate from their sales of chocolate bilbies to the save the bilby fund?
Only Darrell Lea donates a percentage from the sale of each chocolate bilby to Save the Bilby Fund.
3. Are the media aware that the bilby is 'at risk'?
Yes, and sometimes they publish stories, especially around Easter, because we are trying to promote the celebration the Easter Bilby. Australian Story, Sixty Minutes and many of Australia's major newspapers, including the Courier Mail, have all done stories on the plight of the bilby.
4. How often does the bilby breed?
Bilbies have the second shortest gestation of any known mammal in the world, at just 12 - 14 days. Bilbies live in the arid and semi-arid areas of Australia, as because of the harsh conditions, they only breed in good seasons. They can have up to 8 in a year if the seasons are good. Even though their gestation is so short, they never existed in plague proportions.
5. Are there any peculiarities with their mating?
Bilbies have a predominant male who will travel up to 25 kms and visit up to 10 burrows with a couple of females and their young in each burrow.
6. What's the life expectancy of the bilby?
In the wild, about 6 - 7 years. In captivity, slightly longer.
7. Are there any interesting and weird, wacky and wonderful facts about the bilby?
Unlike the koala, which has a specialised diet of only a few species of eucalyptus leave, the bilby doesn't have a specialised diet. It is omniverous and eats seeds, bulbs, roots, beetles, moths, grasshoppers, crickets etc.
Like the koala, however, the bilby doesn't drink water in the wild. It receives most if its metabolic moisture from the things that it eats.
As mentioned previously, bilbies have the second shortest gestation of any known mammal in the world, at just 12 - 14 days. Despite these qualities, the bilby is on the brink of extinction because of the things that we have introduced to Australia - cats, foxes and rabbits.
8. What makes the bilby more unique than other marsupials?
Its rapid ability to breed. It has a backward facing pouch, like wombats, because it is a burrowing animal, and also the items listed in the answer to the above question.
9. How did you become interested in the bilby?
The answer to that is a long story, but to make it short, I firmly believe that the next generation should be able to see what many of us take for granted.