Volunteering with wildlife

The Bandicoot Whisperer

Meet Travis our very own Bandicoot Whisperer and wildlife conservation champion at Woodlands Reserve in Victoria.

The Eastern Barred Bandicoot (a mix between the Easter Bunny and a Bilby) is at risk of becoming extinct. The Eastern Barred bandicoots are now completely extinct in the wild, and only a handful remain in protected revegetation sites in Victorian Grasslands.

Meet Travis, affectionately called  “The Bandicoot Whisperer”. Travis is our conservation champion at Woodlands Reserve in Victoria and responsible for  helping to bring these fragile little bandicoots back from extinction. You can meet Travis on one of our Naturewise trips at Woodlands Reserve.

Read the interview with Travis below courtesy of Ebony and Trent at Raw Kaya Organics.

raw kaya organics conservation volunteers australia bandicoot

How did you first get involved with wildlife and environmental conservation?

I got involved by chance. I broke my arm severely when I was 17, forcing myself into a gap year after high school.  I was studying to be a literature teacher. During this time, I came across a program called Green Corps – an environmental training program. I applied and was accepted into the program. I fell in love with conservation work and my managers offered me a traineeship after Green Corps to work with Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA).  I have stayed with them ever since.

What’s kept you going and from what we saw, just as passionate over the years?

I never get tired of showing the public all of the great work that is being achieved through environmental and wildlife conservation. There is something incredibly rewarding about passing on what you are trying to achieve to try to get people interested in it and passionate about it as well. Planting trees and coming back to see them ten years later, bringing wildlife back from extinction, that is the most rewarding thing about this job. Having volunteers working on the projects and helping you to achieve your goals is inspiring in itself.

How long have you been championing environmental and wildlife conservation?

I have been in this industry since my Green Corp training program, which makes it 21 years!

What have been some of the memorable projects that you have worked on over the years?

Working in threatened species recovery has been amazing. Being so heavily involved in Eastern Barred Bandicoot recovery has been a thrill.  To be part of a team that will hopefully delist a species of its threatened species act will bring about emotions that I can’t really explain.
But in general,  just engaging the community. Around ten years ago I organised a special day for the MS Society. Simply knowing how much pain they would go through after doing a tree planting day was incredibly emotional for me. One lady had to be in a wheel chair and thought she would be useless helping on the project, and so I asked her to take the plants out of their pots to help the rest of the volunteers. She never thought she would be able to participate in these kinds of activities. It was hard not to be emotional in front of them.  I couldn’t thank them enough at the end of the day, and told them how they inspired me endlessly.  Once our day was over and I was by myself, I was brought to tears thinking about them and that in particular the woman in her wheel chair.  Memorable projects can come in many different forms!

What are some fun facts about the eastern barred bandicoot?

It only takes 12.5 days from conception to giving birth.  Eastern Barred Bandicoots can breed up to 5 times a year and on average live for only 3 years.

What animal has one of the largest and unusual reproductive organs?

I like to give out useless facts of information to break the ice and hopefully have my useless facts passed on.  The answer to this question is the humble barnacle. It has a fan shaped reproductive organ that stretches out to reach other barnacles. It is quite amazing and can measure half its body size so it’s very impressive all round!

If you had one important message to tell people, what would it be?

I just want to keep this simple.  Be aware of what’s around you and the role you play without even realising. Tiny things we do as humans can have a significant impact. Get outside and enjoy nature.

What is your favourite land-based and ocean-based animal and why?

I cant really explain why, but I love wombats.  I think its their “I don’t care” attitude and I also think they are quite handsome creatures. In the ocean I love sea horses.  They are such unusual creatures but watching them hover in the water is mesmerising.

For any up and coming wildlife/environmental warriors out there, what advice would you have for them?

If you want to get involved in this field you have to be dedicated and patient.  It’s a hard industry to break into. But just keep having a crack. Volunteer as much as you can, keep studying etc. But most importantly remember that you can make a difference. No matter how small it may appear, you are always doing something positive for nature.

How you can get involved

Visit Naturewise Eco Escapes for our next Bandicoot trapping dates in April 2018.  You can also make a tax deductible donation to support the fantastic and ongoing wildlife conservation efforts for the Eastern Barred Bandicoot through Conservation Volunteers Australia.

Read the full blog on a day with the Bandicoots including images and videos.

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