Rock-Wallabies Fighting Back
Author: Ryan Collins
It's always great to hear a story about a threatened species that's fighting back, especially when they are found nowhere else on the planet. The Australian brush-tailed rock-wallaby is one of those species and their comeback in the Grampians National Park is not before time.
The battle to save the brush-tailed rock-wallaby has been going on for many years, with captive bred populations created as part of numerous release programs across Victoria and New South Wales.
Planet Ark’s Recycling Programs Manager, Ryan Collins was involved back in 2009 whilst working for WWF-Australia in what was then the biggest ever release of captive bred Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies. The 23 wallabies were flown by helicopter onto the top of a mountain in the Warrumbungle National Park.
In the Grampians, the last surviving rock-wallaby was captured in 1999 in an attempt to ensure the local population's survival. Key areas were closed off to human recreational use, like rock climbing, to enable the implementation of captive release programs. After several disappointing results since 2008 due to high mortality and low reproduction rates, success has occurred with four new offspring raising the colony’s numbers to eight wallabies.
In an interview with the ABC, Ryan Duffy, a coordinator behind one of the programs said, "We've gone through some tough times but to finally start to see this glimmer of success, for me personally, it's quite uplifting."
These unique and beautiful acrobats of rocky outcrops and cliff ledges have done it tough since the red fox was introduced for hunting by European settlers and became their major predator. Habitat loss and hunting by humans hasn't helped. Currently, their genetic decline due to the low population and long-term isolation are threats that recovery teams are looking to resist.
Mount Rothwell Biodiversity Interpretation Centre in Little River plays an integral role working with the University of Melbourne to introduce new genes into the species. The process, known as outcrossing, increases genetic diversity, making them fitter, healthier and more able to "rock out" in the wild.
- Notify your state park agency of any brush-tailed rock-wallaby sightings
- If living near rock-wallaby habitat, ensure cats and dogs do not roam and are de-sexed
- Learn more about the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby
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