The Banded Hare-wallaby (Lagostrophus fasciatus) is listed as Vulnerable under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), and protected fauna under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950.
Banded Hare-wallabies once occurred across southern Australia, from Victoria to Southwest Australia. However, sadly, mainland populations are now extinct and the only extant remnant populations are on Bernier and Dorre Islands in Shark Bay, Western Australia. More recently, the Banded Hare-wallaby was successfully reintroduced to the Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s Faure Island sanctuary in Shark Bay.
Banded Hare-wallabies are characterised by a series of transverse dark bars that run from the middle of their back to the base of their tail. They have long, thick fur that is predominantly grey but also grizzled with pale yellow and silver, and a rufous tinge on their flanks. Adults have a head-body length of 400-450 mm and weigh approximately two kilograms.
Banded Hare-wallabies feed primarily on shrubs and, to a lesser extent, grasses. They obtain their water requirements through their food and from dew. During the day, they shelter under dense shrubs on coastal sandplains and dunes. Breeding can occur throughout the year, with a peak in late summer. Embryonic diapause has been recorded in this species. This means that, soon after giving birth, the female mates again and the resultant foetus stays dormant (‘quiescent’) whilst the pouch is occupied. In the wild, an individuals’ lifespan is approximately six years.
Among a range of key threats, Banded Hare-wallabies are susceptible to predation by foxes and cats. Reintroductions to Dirk Hartog Island and Peron Peninsula in Western Australia were unsuccessful due to predation by feral cats, combined with drought. With Southwest Australia experiencing a marked decline in rainfall in recent decades, and further declines predicted for the future, the drying climate is also expected to negatively impact the population sizes of Banded Hare-wallabies. In the past, extensive areas of Banded Hare-wallaby habitat were cleared for agriculture, making all remaining habitat a high priority for conservation and sustainable management.
In October 2017, the Banded Hare-wallaby made a historic return to mainland Australia, more than 100 years after the last wild colony disappeared as a result of foxes and cats.
Read more about this fantastic development here.
Information Source: Government of Australia, Department of Environment and Energy; WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions; and Australian Wildlife Conservancy.