Tuesday, 05 March 2024
122 Nicholson Street, Orbost, VIC 3888 - P: (03) 5154 1919

Local News

Rockies on the rise

Rockies on the rise

The critically endangered population of southern brush-tailed rock wallabies in Far East Gippsland’s Little River Gorge is growing, thanks to many years of dedicated work by staff from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Parks Victoria, Zoos Victoria, Adelaide Zoo, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and local environmental consultants, Wildlife Unlimited.

DELWP natural environment officer, Marc Perri, said this is the only natural population in Australia for the southern brush-tailed rock wallaby.

“In 2005, this remote colony consisted of an estimated 10 animals - there are now 41 known animals, identified through an ongoing program of camera monitoring, trapping and tagging,” Mr Perri said.

“Over the past year, 30 of those were trapped and had a health check, with 19 previously unchecked animals having tissue samples collected and measurements taken.

“We’re particularly excited to see stability in the population, with 13 animals less than two years old observed - this is a high percentage of young animals, balancing out the loss of older wallabies.”

There are also more breeding age females in the gorge than at any time in the past 30 years. Two young males were sent to the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve’ s captive breeding program where they are now breeding. A young female was also translocated there earlier this year to contribute to the program.
“It’s been a great year in the field, with the delivery of a significant body of work to sup- port the recovery of the southern brush-tailed rock wallaby in East Gippsland and nationally,” Mr Perri said.

“That work includes ongoing predator control through baiting and predator monitoring with the Southern Ark program and Parks Victoria. Predation is the most significant threat to rock wallabies so this is the highest priority activity.”

Remote cameras have also been refurbished after four years of continuous service and new purpose-built traps have been placed at new sites in the north and east of the gorge while the annual camera monitoring and cage trapping program continues.

“Genetic analysis collected from the trapping helps us identify priority animals for the captive breeding program and to build a family tree of the population to manage the quality of their genetic pool,” Mr Perri said.

The work has been supported by many indi- viduals, groups and partner organisations, in particular the Wildlife Unlimited team, the Southern Ark team, Parks Victoria staff, Tid- binbilla Nature Reserve, Mt Rothwell’ s Biodiversity Centre and the National Recovery Team.

“To everyone else who has made a contribution, and there have been many, well done on supporting a really good year’s work with encouraging results,” Mr Perri said.


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