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Black-flanked rock-wallaby banner video background © WWF-Aus / Simon Cherriman

© WWF-Aus / Simon Cherriman

Black-flanked rock-wallaby

You’ve got to be lucky to see the shy black-flanked rock-wallaby, a small and extremely agile marsupial that darts among rocky outcrops and caves in central and western Australia. It emerges only at dusk to feed on grass, leaves, bark and fruits. But it’s a spectacle to behold on warm wintry days, when this gorgeous animal is sometimes glimpsed soaking up the sun's rays.

It's this preference for rocky refuges that has been the key to the wallaby's survival. Much of its surrounding landscape has been cleared for farming, and the rocks have afforded some protection from the foxes and cats that have decimated other Australian mammal populations.

Although this rock-wallaby is still quite widespread across its range, habitat destruction, predation by foxes and feral cats, and competition for food and shelter have exacted a terrible toll. Scientists report many local extinctions and the wallaby's distribution is now greatly reduced. The populations that remain are generally small, isolated and at risk of extinction.

The support of Lotterywest is enabling WWF-Australia to work in partnership with nine indigenous organisations to protect rock wallaby populations.


Why it matters 

Textured pads on its hind feet, which act much like the sole of a running shoe, enable the black-flanked rock-wallaby to bound around its rocky home. It moves swiftly and confidently, its dark fur perfectly camouflaged with its surroundings.


Rock-wallabies shelter during the hottest part of the day in caves and among cliffs to avoid water loss, then emerge in the early evening to graze on grass and herbs. They live in colonies, and although they rarely make a sound, scientists believe that members communicate using a complex array of behaviours and chemical signals. 


There’s still a lot we don't know about the wary black-flanked rock-wallaby, but we do know that its numbers are declining and that we need to act fast. While there's clearly no place like home, moving wallabies to areas of suitable habitat and keeping out predators has proven effective.


A volunteer holds a black-flanked rock-wallaby, Mt Caroline © Phil Lewis / WWF-Aus

Petrogale lateralis

Species Bio

Common Name

Black-flanked rock-wallaby

Scientific Name

Petrogale lateralis


Only 50 centimetres tall.


Listed as Vulnerable (EPBC Act 1999) and Near Threatened (IUCN Red List).

There are three subspecies of black-flanked rock-wallaby:
1. Petrogale Iateralis lateralis (black-flanked rock-wallaby) which is patchily distributed through most of Western Australia south of the Kimberley;
2. Petrogale Iateralis hacketti (Recherche rock-wallaby), found only on three islands in the Archipelago of the Recherche in Western Australia;
3. Petrogale Iateralis pearsoni (Pearson island rock-wallaby), found on islands off South Australia.

There are also two races of black-flanked rock-wallaby:
1. Petrogale Iateralis MacDonnell Ranges race, found throughout central Australia
2. Petrogale Iateralis west Kimberley race, known from the Grant, Edgar and Erskine ranges in the west Kimberley (also known as wiliji by Traditional Owners of this region).


Did you know?

The soles of its hind feet are coarse, acting much like the sole of a running shoe, providing friction and grip as the rock-wallaby bounces around the rocks at high speed.


This species is known by many names in English and traditional Indigenous Australian languages, including: warru (or waru), black-flanked rock-wallaby, black-footed rock-wallaby, side-striped rock-wallaby, bokal, moororong, kakuya , lungkarrpa, pakultarra, rukapiki, tanpa, tjinangalku, tjirti, wartilara, wokartji, arrwe or kavtetve. The Latin name, Petrogale lateralis, means ‘notable-sided rock-weasel’– although these sweet animals look nothing like a weasel, and are not even distantly related to them.


Although still found across central and south-western Australia, the black-flanked rock-wallaby has faced mounting pressures.

Predation by foxes and feral cats, habitat destruction, and growing competition for food and shelter have caused many local extinctions and the rock-wallaby's distribution is now greatly reduced. Remaining populations are generally small, isolated and at risk of extinction.

What you can do to help

You can donate to our current appeal to support WWF's conservation efforts.


If you prefer getting your hands dirty, then volunteer to help monitor rock-wallabies by counting scats (poo), an activity scheduled every two months or you could join us in planting food plants to sustain these shy animals.

Recommended reading

Black-flanked rock-wallaby translocation, Western Australia © WWF-Aus / Karen Kalpage


Rock-wallaby rescue takes off

An aerial translocation of black-flanked rock-wallabies to Kalbarri National Park has replenished its dwindling population.

Read more

Black-flanked rock-wallaby in the central Wheatbelt, Western Australia © Craig Pentland


A fence fit for a rock star

A population of black-flanked rock-wallabies at Nangeen Hill is flourishing, thanks to a predator-proof fence and revegetation organised by WWF.

Read more

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