It may come as a shock to some that Queensland is home to no less than five threatened species of wallaby. Along with the bridled nail-tail, Proserpine, Sharman’s and purple neck rock wallabies, the brush-tailed rock wallaby lives under the threat of extinction. For such a beautiful and skilful animal, their story is not a happy one.
Reports suggest that over 500,000 BTRWs were shot for their pelts in the early 1900s. In fact, the species was thought to have been extinct in Victoria until populations were rediscovered in the 1950s. They remain largely extinct west of the Great Dividing Range; however, within only one hour’s drive of our capital city lie populations within the species’ northern Evolutionary Significant Unit and an opportunity to champion their conservation.
“The brush-tailed rock wallaby is not your regular ‘run-of-the-mill’ wallaby” said Matt, Projects Manager for Wildlife Queensland. “This species’ ability to move along cliffs and boulders is wondrous to watch. They have evolved to inhabit complex rocky habitats making use of steep gullies, boulder fields and scree slopes, caves, ledges and cliff faces.”
Yet it is due to this specialisation that BTRW populations are susceptible to genetic isolation. Such isolation can occur at very small scales due to fragmentation associated with cleared landscapes and infrastructure that separate rocky outcrops and ridge lines. This makes the species vulnerable to localised extinction, the very issue Wildlife Queensland aims to address within local BTRW colonies in 2019 with funding from its current Christmas appeal.
The project will see Wildlife Queensland develop a long-term collaborative working relationship with Ipswich City Council. “Conservation projects are made stronger through collaboration,” said Matt, “as resources are shared to make the most of available funds.”
“Ipswich City Council is committed to conserving the natural environment within the 2200ha Flinders Goolman Conservation Estate, and in combination with Wildlife Queensland’s project to improve brush-tailed rock wallaby foraging habitat in the area we are well placed to make a lasting positive impact.”
This project represents Wildlife Queensland’s starting point with the brush-tailed rock wallaby, the beginning of an ongoing initiative to highlight and improve the conservation plight of this vulnerable marsupial macropod that was formerly widely distributed in south-eastern Australia.
“Through this project we have a chance to contribute to a National Recovery Plan and assist a regional council with the implementation of its species specific Recovery Plan to provide stability to brush-tailed rock wallaby populations into the future,” Matt explained.
“They are a beautiful animal,” he said, “but they are under serious pressure.” Now is the right time for Wildlife Queensland to work with local government and the community to jump-start the conservation of this amazing wallaby. Now is the time to help the brush-tailed rock wallaby bounce back!