THE bilby, an endangered marsupial brought back from brink of extinction through the efforts of a small group of Queenslanders, is extending its territory. The nocturnal, omnivorous marsupial once ranged over vast tracts of inland Australia but was made almost extinct by cats, foxes and wild dogs. While a 25-square-kilometre electrified predator-proof enclosure near Charleville, in southwestern Queensland, is ensuring the bilby's immediate survival, "spare" animals are being used to convince Australians that many native animals are in danger. A well-known champion of the bilby, and one of the creators of the protective enclosure, Frank Manthey, has now offered male bilbies to the Ipswich Nature Centre, west of Brisbane. Mr Manthey said a captive breeding program at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast was producing large numbers of males and these were being given good homes where they can help educate the public about all of Australia's endangered species. If the males settle in but are found looking longingly over the fence, females could be introduced and Ipswich's Queens Park nature centre could become part of the captive breeding program. Mr Manthey said National Bilby Day, on September 5, was now being used as a fundraiser for endangered species all over the country. "Let the bilbies be the icon for the rest of the endangered species, and it'll work," Mr Manthey said. Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale said the bilbies would be in residence by the Christmas school holidays. - LIVE NEWS