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

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

A fence fit for a rock star

Keywords
  • protected areas
  • wallabies
  • western australia

The situation was grim when WWF joined the fight to save the threatened black-flanked rock-wallaby. Even in Nangeen Hill, a Class A nature reserve in the Western Australian Wheatbelt, numbers had plummeted from 100 to just five by 2011. A strong campaign to control foxes and feral cats was struggling.

Our first step was to partner with the WA Department of Parks and Wildlife to fund a specially designed five kilometre predator-proof fence around the perimeter of the reserve. Once the fence was completed in 2013, 17 rock-wallabies were translocated from nearby, bringing the population to 22 and increasing the genetic pool.

 

Nangeen Hill fence © Phil Lewis / DPaW / WWF-Aus 

Predation is not the only threat to the wallabies. Overgrazing around the granite outcrop at Nangeen Hill had also stripped away a lot of the available food. Again in partnership with the Department of Parks and Wildlife, WWF began replanting rock-wallaby food sources in 2014 to ensure these agile mammals are sustained as the population recovers.

 

Both measures were extremely successful and, excitingly, the rock-wallaby population has doubled since 2013.

 

Due to the overwhelming success of the project, and thanks to the support of State NRM, WWF-AU and the DBCA continue to protect and restore this critical rock-wallaby habitat. For the next three years, the community will look to improve the habitat at Nangeen Hill and Mt Caroline Nature Reserve through weed control and revegetation work. The team will also focus on planting species previously identified to be present in the diet of rock-wallabies in the area.


The project will also include feral management and population monitoring through scat count trips, trapping surveys and camera monitoring to ensure the wallabies and the populations are in a healthy condition.


Since 2013, the Nangeen Hill rock-wallabies have also gone on to help rebuild other populations that had seen mass declines, including those in Kalbarri National Park. Thanks to the help of Nangeen Hill’s wallabies, the future is looking bright for Kalbarri National Park’s population and is well on the way to becoming an important refuge for one of the nation’s favourite animals. So far the project ranks as a great conservation success story for Australia.

 

Nangeen Hill planting day © DPaW / WWF-Aus 

 

 

Timeline of the project:

  • April 2010 – Community scat monitoring program established by WWF and Shire of Kellerberrin in order to regularly monitor Wheatbelt black-flanked rock-wallabies.

  • 2011 – Community scat monitoring program identified that the population was decreasing.

  • February 2012 – WA Dept. of Parks and Wildlife census trapping confirmed that Nangeen rock-wallaby population had dropped to 9 individuals.

  • April 2013 – WA Dept. of Parks and Wildlife census trapping confirmed that Nangeen rock-wallaby population had plummeted to only 5 individuals.

  • July 2013 – Predator proof fence officially closed around Nangeen Hill Nature Reserve, creating a sanctuary from introduced predators. 17 rock-wallabies translocated into Nangeen Hill Nature Reserve from nearby granite outcrop in order to boost breeding capability of population to 23.

  • July 2014 – First lot revegetation work of Nangeen Hill meadow commenced.

  • October 2014 – Another round of census trapping showed population had grown to 39 rock-wallabies.

  • July 2015 - Second round of revegetation work at Nangeen Hill meadow undtertaken.

  • May 2016 – 4 rock-wallabies were translocated from Nangeen Hill to help start a larger population in Kalbarri National Park.

  • May 2018 - Further 5 rock-wallabies translocated from Nangeen Hill.

  • March 2019 - WWF begins new project in partnership with Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and attractions and the State NRM to improve rock-wallaby habitat at Nangeen Hill and other Wheatbelt sites and monitor populations for conservation.