The elusive Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby (Petrogale pencillata, also know as the Shadow) that once bounded up rock outcrops and grazed on the highland grasses, is now sadly extinct in the Australian Capital Territory (although it’s officially listed as Endangered). The last time one was sighted in the ACT was over 50 years ago at Wallaby Rocks in the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve in 1959.
A joint venture by FAUNA Research Alliance (FAUNA RA) and World Wide Fund for Nature Australia (WWF-Australia) plans to reinstate this missing species into the alpine areas of the ACT. Fundraising is underway and FAUNA RA members, Dave Taggart, Tony Corrigan, and Dave Schultz are currently working in conjunction with the ACT Government (Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and ACT Parks and Conservation) on project plans.
Hunting for the fur trade, predation by introduced carnivores (foxes and cats), competition from native and introduced herbivores (rabbits, goats and kangaroos) and habitat fragmentation are all thought to have contributed to their disappearance from the landscape.
FAUNA RA scientists will use valuable insights from their work and that of others with Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby releases in the Grampians in Victoria and Warrumbungles and other NSW locations. These insights will inform the planning and implementation of the reintroduction process and give the newly released animals the best chance of survival, starting with assessing the best place to reintroduce these critters.
The project goals are:
- To establish viable self-sustaining populations of Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby on protected public land within 10 years.
- To monitor and mitigate threatening processes (especially fox and rabbit control).
- To monitor and communicate the outcomes of the reintroduction trials to all stakeholders and the public and to build on our understanding of “best practice” reintroduction methods for this unique species.
This re-wilding project, if successful, will restore an important locally extinct species back into its previous habitat and expand our knowledge of the reintroduction biology of this species and marsupials in general. The work of the project team will also value add to other projects and species in the region supporting on-going feral animal control programs for the introduced red fox and European rabbit.