Bilby man fears loss of funding
BILBY man Frank Manthey fears the loss of bilby protection funding from the collapse of Darrell Lea Chocolates will further hurt the endangered species.
The Australian chocolate maker has supported the bilby cause for more than a decade providing more than $400,000 in funding from the sale of chocolate bilbies in that time.
But the recent collapse and following sale of the business to pet food giant VIP Pet foods brought an end to the critical funding agreement.
Mr Manthey said the lost of funding means crucial work to protect the native animal could now be in jeopardy.
"Our cheque from Darrell Lea this year would have been around $52,000," Mr Manthey said
"Aside from that funding we rely on donations from the public.
"Important research and predator-proof fencing will now be in jeopardy."
Mr Manthey also said it was sad all the work he and other bilby protectors had done to promote chocolate bilbies could now be lost.
The Save the Bilby Fund receives no money from the sale of any other chocolate bilby brands.
"Australian's can be a bit slow to change," Mr Manthey said.
"Even though we've spent millions trying to get rid of the rabbits, people still want to buy one at Easter."
Mr Manthey is yet to speak to the new owners of Darrell Lea, but with the business tipped to be a scaled down operation with 400 fewer staff it seems unlikely the funding stream will continue.
The 74-year-old said he had contacted Kraft, owners of Cadbury Chocolate, and attempted to contact Coles and Woolworths about alternate funding, but with little success.
He hopes new Darrell Lea owner Tony Quinn will be open to continuing to at least supply the chocolates.
"I'd love to get in contact with Tony Quinn to see if he would still be willing to produce the chocolate bilbies and maybe we could get them into Coles and Woollies. We could use our packaging with our logo
"If you've got people like Dawn Fraser and Jessica Watson on there I don't think you could ask for a better duo to promote your product."
SAVE THE BILBY
- Schools can "Go Green" and donate a gold coin this Friday to support the Save the Bilby Fund.
- Sunday is National Bilby Day. Become a bilby friend online at savethebilbyfund.com.