WILDLIFE warrior and co-founder of the Save the Bilby Fund Frank Manthey has passed away.
Mr Manthey was one half of the acclaimed 'Bilby Brothers' who established the foundation to protect the endangered species in 1999.
Mr Manthey tragically lost his wife Eve in 1996 and following her passing, dedicated his time to preserving the bilby, setting up the fund alongside co-founder Peter McRae, who died last year.
Tributes are flowing for the passionate former Ipswich resident, who had recently moved to Toowoomba to be closer to family and medical support, after his death on Tuesday night.
Save the Bilby Fund CEO Kevin Bradley said Mr Manthey's had touched the lives of many.
"It is obviously a huge loss, he touched many, many people, he was the kind of person whose passion was palpable," Mr Bradley said.
"I first became involved with Frank in 2001 and absolutely taken by his raw passion, horsepower and simplistic view on life.
"He had an absolute sincere love of the Australian bush, the people, the animals, all of it.
"He's been a mentor to me and many others, he was a huge believer in the importance of education and engaging children as young as possible to learn from some of the mistakes of his generation and mine, made over the last 200 odd years."
Mr Manthey was a former Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Ranger before he established the Save the Bilby Fund, alongside Mr McRae.
His dedication to preserving Australian wildlife earned him a number of accolades.
Mr Manthey was in 2001 named Australian Geographic's Conservationist of the Year, for his work with the bilby fund.
In 2005, Mr Manthey was successful in convincing the federal government to recognise the Greater Bilby as an iconic species by declaring the second Sunday in September each year as National Bilby Day.
In 2012 he was bestowed the honour of receiving an Australian Order of Merit OAM award, for service to wildlife preservation, particularly as co-founder of Save the Bilby Fund.
Mr Bradley said when Mr Manthey retired from the fund due to health issues in 2014, he stepped up as CEO and had huge shoes to fill.
"It is a tragic loss really, Frank was a one off, they threw away the mold with him."
He said his death marked the end of the 'Bilby Brothers, but their legacies would live on.
"It's a tragic loss, these men have done incredible work and have been responsible for putting the spotlight on issue of not just bilbies, but a lot of outback species facing a perilous threat. They put the issue into the spotlight, raised money and awareness and we are carrying that mission through today with the Bilby Fund 20 years old this year.
"He was a very strong, unique personality, just one of those colourful people in life that leave a true hole. Peter was the same, they were the true odd couple."
Mr Manthey was also a keen bowler and was president of the Cunnamulla Bowls Club from 1980-1982, a town in which he lived for years and where his beloved wife Eve is buried. He was transferred to Charleville for his work with Parks and Wildlife in the mid 80's and was well known and loved throughout the district.
Cunnamulla Bowls Club green keeper Larry Horne first met Mr Manthey in 1981 and has fond memories.
"The 'red roo' we used to call him, he was a legend in the district and had the gift of the gab," Mr Horne said.
"He was our president here for a couple of years and is a life member of our district bowls club.
"He was a good bloke, he didn't mind a little rum.
"He was a good organiser. When I first joined I played with him and won my first game of bowls with him. It was the very first time I'd played and I won a turkey and a dozen stubbies with him, and I thought, geez, bowls is bloody good game."
Mr Bradley said his thoughts were with Mr Manthey's children and grandchildren, whom he loved dearly, and his many friends and admirers.
Plans are being finalised for a memorial service for Mr Manthey in Cunnamulla, with a wake at the bowls club, next Friday.