18 December 2019
Author: Alesia Dyer
Wildlife Queensland recently completed an infrared camera monitoring survey as part of a project to improve and increase the foraging habitat for an important colony of brush-tailed rock-wallabies in the Flinders-Goolman Conservation Estate, Ipswich.
Survey findings revealed some important patterns and activities that will inform and assist our ongoing efforts to protect this vulnerable native species in South East Queensland.
Behaviour patterns of wallaby species
The Flinders–Goolman Conservation Estate is a protected area located within the Flinders Karawatha Corridor ‒ a large continuous stretch of open eucalypt forest located in south-eastern Queensland.
The Estate is home to a small colony of brush-tailed rock-wallabies. The species is suffering from the impacts of a multitude of manmade pressures, including:
- invasive weeds that destroy foraging habitat
- feral herbivores (goats, rabbits) competing for food
- introduced predators preying upon the species.
Our survey project in the Flinders–Goolman Conservation Estate ran from 12 August until 22 October 2019. Ten infrared monitoring cameras were installed and remained active 24 hours a day during the survey period. The cameras were monitoring wallaby activity, with the occasional predator seen sniffing around a few days after a wallaby photo was taken.
The survey resulted in 34 brush-tailed rock-wallaby events, 305 swamp wallaby events, and 14 predator events.
The most interesting pattern we observed was that swamp wallabies and brush-tailed rock-wallabies follow similar patterns of activity across time; however, the time of day that predators were active was opposite to rock-wallabies. We believe there was some kind of predator avoidance behaviour being exhibited by the rock-wallabies to achieve their activity patterns.
Wild dogs were seen in the very early hours of the morning, just after midnight, whereas rock wallabies were most active in the late morning hours, between 8.00 am and 12.00 pm.
Another interesting thing to note was the presence of a fox upon the rocky debris in our final week of the survey project, and a corresponding observation of a rock-wallaby down near the creek that same week. This strengthened our assumption that predator avoidance may be occurring on part of the rock-wallabies.
The scat analysis we conducted showed that wallabies were not currently being eaten by the wild dogs or foxes, which is good news (perhaps their avoidance is paying off!).