Critical mission to save threatened rock-wallabies

Posted on 31 August 2012  | 
Black-flanked rock-wallaby, Central Wheatbelt, 20 October 2007.
Black-flanked rock-wallaby, Central Wheatbelt, 20 October 2007.
© Craig Pentland Enlarge
Australia’s black-flanked rock-wallaby faces possible extinction unless urgent action is taken to stop them being slaughtered by foxes and cats, WWF warned today.

WWF has joined numerous other organisations on a critical rescue mission to save some of the last remaining black-flanked rock-wallabies in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt region from feral predators.

“These elusive wallabies are living under siege in isolated rocky outcrops that are separated from other suitable habitat by agricultural land,” said WWF Species Conservation Manager for Southwest Australia, Katherine Howard.

“If they leave their rocky fortress, they are easy pickings for foxes and cats, which outclass these shy creatures with their hunting skill and ferocity,” she said.

The black-flanked rock-wallaby was once widespread and abundant, but the introduction of foxes and cats has seen populations in central and southwest Australia plummet, putting the species on global, national and state threatened species lists.

Craig Pentland, a researcher at Edith Cowan University studying the rock-wallabies, said: “Even the mere presence of a predator creates such a fearful response that it seems some rock-wallabies prefer to stay in their rocky refuges and risk starvation, rather than risk a fatal encounter with a fox or cat.”

WWF has joined the WA Department of Environment and Conservation, the Shire of Kellerberrin, Wheatbelt NRM, Greening Australia, the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, scientists Jack Kinnear and Craig Pentland, local landholders, Traditional Owners and numerous volunteers in an effort to save the last populations in southwest Australia.

Nangeen Hill is a Class A Nature Reserve and until recently was home to one of the Wheatbelt’s largest populations of black-flanked rock-wallabies. But since 2010, this population has plummeted to as few as nine individuals.

To protect the remaining wallabies at Nangeen Hill, WWF and the WA Department of Environment and Conservation plan to build a five-kilometre predator-proof fence around the reserve to protect them from feral predators.

At other important sites, the organisations are working to increase the amount of food available to the wallabies, and using a combination of state-of-the-art sensor cameras and community-based monitoring to track population response.

WWF is calling on the public to support efforts to save the black-flanked rock-wallaby. Concerned members of the public can visit wwf.org.au/wallabyappeal to find out how they can help.

Please note: As an ‘A’ Class Nature Reserve, Nangeen Hill is not open to the public. Black-flanked rock-wallabies are shy and elusive but they can be found in a small number of national parks in Western Australia - for more information go to www.dec.wa.gov.au. Black-flanked rock-wallabies are protected under WA and Australian legislation and all care should be taken not to disturb them.

Images and video available on request


WWF-Australia contact:
Daniel Rockett, Senior Media Officer, WWF-Australia, 0432 206 592

Black-flanked rock-wallaby, Central Wheatbelt, 20 October 2007.
Black-flanked rock-wallaby, Central Wheatbelt, 20 October 2007.
© Craig Pentland Enlarge

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