Banded Hare-wallabies return to mainland mid-west Australia

The Midwest team from Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) have just announced some very exciting news for the NACC NRM region: 60 Banded Hare-wallabies – 27 males and 33 females – have been successfully translocated to AWC’s Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary, where they have been released into a 7,800 hectare feral predator-free area.

The animals were airlifted from Bernier and Dorre Islands in Shark Bay as part of a joint operation involving field staff from AWC and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.

The Mt Gibson population of the Hare-wallaby is expected to grow to around 3,000 animals over the next decade, making it the first self-sustaining wild population to exist on mainland Australia for more than a century. The two remaining wild populations (around 5,500 animals) are on Bernier and Dorre Islands. A reintroduced population has been established on AWC’s Faure Island since 2004. A small number of individuals have recently been translocated to Dirk Hartog Island in a fenced sanctuary.

AWC’s Chief executive Atticus Fleming recently told ABC Mid West and Wheatbelt that the wallaby could only survive in predator-free areas because its size made it particularly vulnerable.

“It’s in that really critical weight range which makes it especially vulnerable to these feral predators,” he said.

“It’s only 1.5 to 2kg fully grown. It’s just the right size for a cat or a fox to kill and eat.”

Mr Fleming said with successful breeding and more translocations, the mid-west population could grow significantly.

“We expect that population to grow to around 3,000 over the next five to 10 years,” he said.

“We’re looking at a 50 per cent increase in the current wild population of this very threatened animal as a result of this translocation.”

NACC Biodiversity Program Coordinator Jessica Stingemore said there was hope that the Banded Hare-wallaby population within the sanctuary would eventually increase to a self-sustaining community.

“This community could eventually be used as a source to boost other populations around Australia,” she said.

“This translocation process was a complex logistical exercise and AWC’s dedicated staff should be congratulated on their efforts. NACC is proud to be able to help support their critical work in saving threatened species.”

You can watch the ecologists in action via the video above, and read more about this fantastic project via http://www.australianwildlife.org/field-updates/2017/historic-return-to-mainland-australia-for-one-of-our-rarest-kangaroo-species.aspx and http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-12/banded-hare-wallaby-relocated-australian-mainland/9040136

This project was delivered by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy in partnership with the Department of Parks and Wildlife, Perth Zoo, Lotterywest, and NACC. NACC supported this project, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

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