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Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby return to Grampians wild critical step in species recovery

November 17, 2008
Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby return to Grampians wild critical step in species recovery

Captive-bred Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies have been successfully reintroduced into Victorians Grampians National Park in a trial bid to save the critically endangered species from extinction in Victoria.

Parks Victoria says the animals are being monitored 24 hours a day by staff and show they are healthy and enjoy their new Grampians home. To protect the health of the rare endangered animals Rosea and Homestead Tracks will stay closed to vehicles and walkers. The tracks will be monitored and assessed regularly to decide how long Parks Victoria should keep the area closed.

The trial reintroduction is a critical step in the recovery program. It will be considered successful if the wallabies breed in the wild and the species is secured in the Grampians National Park.

(Pictured Project founder Dr Mervyn Jacobson prepares a Brush-tail Rock-wallaby for release as part of a project to create a second Victorian wild colony of the critically endangered species).

Environment and Climate Change Minister Gavin Jennings said it is hoped the 10 Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies will create a second Victorian wild population in addition to the small colony of 20 animals that still exist in remote East Gippsland.

The return of the distinctive Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby to its former habitat today in the Grampians National Park is a milestone in the effort to secure the future survival of the species in Victoria, Mr Jennings said.

The Brumby Government is taking action now to protect and enhance Victorias biodiversity and this is an example of what can be done to help reverse the decline of our native wildlife.

Hundreds of people have shown their interest in the recovery of the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby by voting for it to be featured on the 2009 Victorian vehicle registration label.

The Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby was once found in rocky gorges across south-eastern Australia. Its decline is largely due to historical hunting for the fur trade, habitat clearing and predation from the red fox.

Pictured (from left) Jim Reside of Wildlife Unlimited with Parks Victoria Ranger Emily Bedggood and project founder Dr Mervyn Jacobson helps a Brush-tail Rock-wallaby get acquainted with its new home amongst the rugged slopes of the Grampians National Park.

The release site chosen within the Grampians National Park provides excellent habitat, including rocky ledges and cliffs and plentiful food that is essential to the survival of the species.

The extensive trial preparations were based on internationally recognised research and had included a large predator control program within the park, Mr Jennings said.

The animals released were carefully selected for their age and genetic diversity. For the past few months the wallabies have been getting to know each other in large predator proof enclosures that mimic wild conditions, allowing them to acclimatise to living in the wild and to adjust socially.

A Brush-tail Rock-wallaby get acquainted with its new home
A Brush-tail Rock-wallaby get acquainted with its new home

The Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies will be monitored in the park using radio collars and remote surveillance cameras. Potential predators such as red foxes will also continue to be controlled.

The Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby recovery program involves several partner organisations, including the Department of Sustainability and Environment and Parks Victoria and has been significantly supported by sponsor donations.

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve (ACT), Adelaide Zoo and the University of Adelaide (SA), Healesville Sanctuary and Dunkeld Pastoral Company (Vic) and Waterfall Springs (NSW) were involved in breeding and preparing the wallabies for release.

(Pictured one of the 10 critically endangered Brush-tail Rock-wallabies pauses on a rock after being released into the Grampians National Park as part of the trial reintroduction project).

Editor's Note: Also see -

One of the 10 critically endangered Brush-tail Rock-wallabies
One of the 10 critically endangered Brush-tail Rock-wallabies