In the turf war between rabbits and bilbies that plays out in burrows dug into Australia’s arid grasslands, rabbits, those aggressive and fertile European immigrants, have largely won out. However, the chocolate bilby has staked its claim on the springtime candy shelf — an honor that could help the threatened species make a real comeback.
Never heard of a bilby? Well, it’s a cute, rabbit-sized marsupial with large ears and a long, pointed nose; once upon a time, it hopped around much of Australia. But the arrival of European settlers some 200 years ago brought hard times for the bilbies. Cities and farms destroyed habitat. Foxes and feral cats preyed on them. And rabbits eventually pushed the bilbies out of their burrows. “[The rabbits] were eating everything in their way,” says David Paton, an ecologist at the University of Adelaide. Today the bilby numbers only in the thousands, but Easter traditions – and chocolate in particular — have helped keep the bilby’s image going strong.
Pink Lady Chocolates and Haigh’s Chocolates have teamed up with the Save The Bilby Fund to provide the Australians with their own Easter Bilby. Proceeds from the sale of these bilbies goes towards research, breeding programs and the conservation of the endangered creatures. “At Easter time it seems ludicrous to me that less than one percent of the chocolate market is bilbies and all the rest are rabbits. Millions and millions of dollars have been spent in the last hundred or so years by all forms of governments, state, local and federal in trying to rid Australia of rabbits, and yet here we are celebrating Easter with rabbits! It’s ludicrous!” – Frank Manthey.Easter Sunday 2016 is the 27th March this year. Look for Pink Lady Bilby Chocolates with the GREEN TAG that show the donation amount to Save the Bilby Fund. You can hunt for chocolate bilbies at Ritchies/IGA, Target, Australia Post, Big W, Myers, David Jones, plus many specialty shops.
Mount Waverley Primary school is proud to sponsor several bilbies with Save The Bilby Fund and Arid recovery. For more information on bilbies go to http://www.savethebilbyfund.org.au or http://www.aridrecovery.org.au/arid-recovery-news/bilbies-not-bunnies-this-easter