After years of decline, a critically endangered species of rock wallaby in Australia is finally growing in population after recent rains.
The beloved Wangarru, or yellow-legged rock wallaby as it is commonly called, is found only in Mutawintji National Park and Nature Reserve in the Far West and outback of South Australia.
In the longest Ariel population survey program in New South Wales, the New South Wales government has been monitoring the Wangarru for 40 years. Recently, drought and invasive predators such as foxes and cats have reduced their numbers from 150 to just 60 individuals.
“But the rain in March caused the ground cover to grow back and the kangaroos have started to breed again, and this last count in July we recorded 75 kangaroos,” says project officer Sarah Bell.
Dr. Bell works for the Save Our Species conservation action program facilitated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which works to save endangered species around the world.
“We were very concerned, because 60 in a population is such a small number of animals to represent a species distribution in New South Wales,” Dr Bell noted.
“If you put the population count on top of the rainfall data, it’s really surprising how close it corresponds.”
Leroy Johnson is a Barkindji Aboriginal and the Manager of the Mutawintji Park. Wangarru is a special animal for him. The Mutawintji Aboriginal Land Council has it on their logo, and Johnson told ABC News Australia that its people “take very seriously caring not only for these animals, but also for the habitat in which they live.”
He and his staff set up feeding stations and watering holes throughout the park to help the animals during the dry spell.
“If the numbers are good, then the land and the country are healthy too … we are proud that they are there.”
No matter how close the Barkindji are to the cute rock wallaby, another severe drought could wipe out the remaining population, so Dr. Bell is working with the Mutawintji Land Council on relocation projects to create sub-populations elsewhere. of the state.
This tactic, used to help restore California condors, for example, it is quite common when there are few animals but a wide territory where they can live.
Natural disasters, drought, or a new disease can decimate a delicate population, and the more places in New South Wales where Dr. Bell and Leroy Johnson can create stable populations, the greater the chances that the Council of Lands of Mutawindji may have them on your logos for years to come.
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