Wallaby recovery efforts in South Australia in zoos and at their rocky habitats

The yellow-tailed rock wallaby in its Flinders Ranges habitat.
Image courtesy Australian Wildlife Conservancy

Rock wallabies – yellow-footed, black-footed and brush tail – have been the focus of recovery efforts in South Australia. The yellow-footed rock wallaby colonies were drastically reduced or wiped out by European settlement in semi-arid areas of South Australia (Gawler, Flinders and Olary ranges), New South Wales and south-west Queensland.

Adelaide Zoo has continuously housed yellow-footed rock wallabies since it opened in 1883. Australian Wildlife Conservancy has being working to revive the species in the central Flinders Ranges by protecting a significant population at Buckaringa Sanctuary. This has particularly concentrated on controlling the threat from goats, foxes and cats in the sanctuary and on neighbouring properties.

Since 2007, a team of Aboriginal rangers and scientists has aimed to bring back the small black-footed rock wallabies (warru) to Pukatja/Ernabella, a predator-free enclosure on a rocky outcrop in South Australia's far north Aboriginal APY (Anangu Pitjantjatjaraka Yankuntjatjara). In 2017, a staggered release of 40 of the species – nearly wiped out by feral cats, foxes and buffel grass – was reintroduced into the wild to be tracked and radio monitored.

The brush-tailed rock wallaby (petrogale penicillata) was regarded as extinct in Victoria by 1916 but was later rediscovered. Major threats remain including predation by feral species, low migration and habitat degradation. Zoos SA at Monarto is involved with captive breeding and cross fostering of brush-tailed rock wallaby joeys in the pouches of surrogate mothers. Zoos SA partners in this project include Adelaide University, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve (ACT), Mt Rothwell Conservation and Research Centre (Victoria) and Waterfall Springs Wildlife Sanctuary (NSW).

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