The number of Southern Brush-tailed Rock wallabies in the wild is continuing to bounce back thanks to two decades of work to protect them. In 1996 there were less than 10 animals in the Upper Snowy River at Little River Gorge near Gelantipy in far East Gippsland, and the population in the Grampians had become extinct.
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) Senior Biodiversity Officer, Marc Perri said: "We've had 20 years of persistent and often difficult work involving predator control, monitoring, captive breeding and research to protect the species and learn about their ecology."
"We now have about 30 animals in the Upper Snowy, a small reintroduced population of five adults in the Grampians and 50 that have been bred and held in captivity."
"We completed our annual camera monitoring in March at four sites in the Little River Gorge to identify how many wallabies are present in the monitoring area, to do visual health assessments and identify the breeding status of females by checking for young at foot and pouch young," Mr Perri said.
"Any untagged wallabies we find are tagged with a colour coded plastic ear tag to aid identification in camera monitoring, we also collect a tissue sample for genetics and insert a microchip to aid identification."
"We identified 16 known animals from the camera monitoring. Twelve other animals were observed that have not been tagged or processed - most of these are young from this and last years' breeding."
"The use of cameras to monitor these wallabies is passive and causes no stress to the animals. It also allows cage trapping to be targeted at areas where the most benefit can be made with the least effort, further reducing the impact of management actions on this very special group of animals."
Armed with this information, the East Gippsland team will conduct targeted cage trapping in April to tag these new animals and assess the health of the population. The team also plans to trap and remove two young at foot male rock-wallabies to the captive breeding program where their genetics are underrepresented.
The Southern Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby Recovery Program was established in 1996 to address the decline of this iconic species. The program is led by DELWP with involvement from Parks Victoria, Mt Rothwell Conservation Centre, ACT Parks and Conservation, Melbourne University, Adelaide University, Adelaide Zoo and Zoos Victoria, Mt Rothwell Conservation and Research Centre and private contractors.
The East Gippsland Recovery Program is supported by the Victorian Government and funding from the Commonwealth Government's National Landcare Program (NLP).
Brush-tailed Rock Wallabies (Petrogale penicillata) is listed as threatened under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee (FFG) Act 1988.
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