27 September 2023

DELWP finds rock wallabies bouncing back

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Captive breeding and predator control efforts by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) are helping to protect the critically endangered southern brush-tailed rock wallaby in two remote corners of Victoria.

Natural Environment Officer at DELWP, Marc Perri said the once common marsupial was nearly wiped out by the fur trade in the 19th and 20th centuries.

“By the 1990s, the southern brush-tailed rock wallaby was on the brink of extinction, having declined to a known population of around 10 animals in the Upper Snowy River Gorge,” Mr Perri said.

“Since then, a dedicated conservation program has focused on intensive predator control, periodic monitoring and captive breeding, to build numbers and genetic diversity,” he said.

“It’s been a long and arduous journey.”

Mr Perri said the pint-sized wallabies were restricted to a natural population of fewer than 50 animals in the Snowy River National Park and an introduced population of about eight in the Grampians National Park.

He said dedicated field workers from partner organisations Zoos Victoria, Parks Victoria, the University of Melbourne, Adelaide Zoo, and Adelaide University had camped for weeks, laying baits and setting camera-traps to monitor the wallabies’ progress.

“We’re particularly excited to see stability in the population, with 13 animals less than two years old observed — this is a high percentage of young animals, balancing out the loss of older wallabies,” Mr Perri said.

He said there were now more breeding age females in the gorge than at any time in the past 30 years.

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