DO YOU KNOW THAT KANGAROO VALLEY’S ROCK WALLABIES ARE FACING IMMINENT EXTINCTION?
Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies (BTRW) were once common in suitable rocky habitat throughout Eastern Australia. Now they are Endangered and only a handful of rock wallabies remain at the southern extent of their range in NSW. The Friends are working to pull these iconic Kangaroo Valley rock wallabies back from the edge of extinction. Our actions have a huge benefit to local biodiversity as well as farm productivity.
SHOULD IT MATTER TO HUMANS THAT WE ARE ERASING OTHER LIFE FORMS FROM EXISTENCE?
Unprecedented rates of biodiversity loss are unravelling ecosystems worldwide. We are only just beginning to understand the dangerous repercussions for our own species, which depends on biodiversity and stable ecosystems for food crops, medicines, breathable air, clean water, clothing, shelter, recycling decayed matter into plant nutrients, nutrient digestion, preventing erosion and flooding, and moderating climate through carbon storage.
Australia, renowned for its rich and unique biodiversity, is shamed by the worst mammal extinction rate on Earth. Since European settlement, 10% of our mammal species have been lost forever – that’s one third of the global total. Feral cats, dogs and foxes, introduced to our continent by humans, are implicated in almost all our mammal extinctions. The Friends will not stand by and let the BTRW become another devastating statistic.
ON THE EDGE
Over one hundred years ago half a million BTRWs were killed by humans for the fur trade and bounties. Predators that our species introduced to this continent have savaged entire populations. Twenty years ago the Friends partnered with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) just in time to save the last Kangaroo Valley rock wallabies. Small remnant populations like these are trapped in an extinction vortex. Their only chance of survival in the wild is to strengthen breeding stock numbers to a point where occasional joey predation can be sustained. Captive bred BTRW must be brought into the wild colonies and closely monitored.
WHAT’S OUR GOAL?
Having stabilised the remnant southern NSW rock wallaby population, the Friends and NPWS now have their sights set on reaching the ultimate goal of a self-sustaining Shoalhaven population. Based on the Jenolan success story, such a population is estimated at 30 individuals per colony. At present we have 30 individuals spread over the three geographically isolated colonies in the Kangaroo Valley area. The plan is to continue releasing captive bred rock wallabies to reinstate the lost genetic diversity vital to species resilience, and build up the rock wallaby numbers, while continuing to reduce the number of introduced predators which prey on their joeys.
WHAT ARE WE UP AGAINST?
Unlike other macropods which retain joeys in their pouch while they forage, rock wallabies must hide 6-12 month old joeys in rock crevices for short stints to find food safely in their vertical habitat. Foxes, cats and dogs are known to kill these parked joeys. With the Kangaroo Valley colonies being situated among a patchwork of different land tenures, an integrated multi-tenure approach to manage introduced predators is essential. The Friends, NPWS, the Kangaroo Valley Environment Group and the local community collaborate on a comprehensive and broad scale fox control and responsible pet ownership program. Click here to learn more about the fox control program and to view the baiting location maps for Kangaroo Valley, Budgong and Illaroo.
NSW BTRW CAPTIVE BREEDING PROGRAM
Under the overall stewardship of NPWS, BTRW are being bred in captivity for release into sites across NSW. The Friends have partnered with other organisations to help secure the future of Waterfall Springs captive breeding facility and Kangaroo Valley is the primary site for release trials. While the complex rocky escarpment that characterises rock wallaby habitat is impossible to predator-proof using fences, the Friends have contributed to the construction of a soft release enclosure that has overcome some of the acclimation problems associated with rock wallaby translocation.
WHY IS KANGAROO VALLEY A PRIORITY SITE FOR BTRW CONSERVATION?
Biological diversity encompasses ecosystem diversity, species diversity and genetic diversity. The northern NSW populations of BTRW have not been exposed to the same degree of threats as has occurred in the south and now represent 95% of the total population. The Kangaroo Valley rock wallabies are genetically distinct. Conserving genetic diversity is crucial to overall species security. It is genetic diversity that bolsters the species’ resilience to threats including predation, disease, competition, habitat fragmentation, drought and fire.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND SCHOOL EDUCATION
The Friends are working to ensure that the Kangaroo Valley, Budgong and Illaroo communities are aware that the BTRW won’t survive without their help. The Friends have an impressive record of successful grant applications for school and community education programs, to highlight the importance of threatened species conservation, flow-on benefits to farm productivity and local biodiversity, and how individuals can assist. The Friends have a focus on increasing membership of local residents and visitors to the Valley – they are acting local but educating global in terms of biodiversity conservation.
BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION – A SOUND INVESTMENT AND A WONDERFUL LEGACY
If individuals and communities don’t act now, Australia will soon lose many more species to extinction and this will ultimately cost us dearly. The intensive management of introduced predators through the Shoalhaven BTRW Recovery Program is providing invaluable protection for local biodiversity, including lyrebirds, bandicoots, potoroos, quolls and swamphens, as well as chickens and livestock.
The Friends outstanding work since 1995 in increasing the number of BTRW in the Shoalhaven has been recognised by the United Nations Association of Australia with a Special Commendation in the Community Award category on Environment Day 2015, for excellence in education, partnerships, introduced predator management and engendering community support.
But RIGHT NOW the Friends need your help to surge forward.
PLEASE CONSIDER MAKING A ONE-OFF OR CONTINUING DONATION
To make a TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATION, please click here.
ADOPT A WALLABY, PURCHASE MERCHANDISE or BECOME A MEMBER
RIGHT NOW you can symbolically adopt one of the Shoalhaven rock wallabies for yourself … or as a gift. Simply click here.
You’ll get to know them! … You’ll help save them!
WHY NOT SHARE OUR NEW DOCUMENTARY WITH YOUR FRIENDS TO HELP US SPREAD THE WORD
Visit the DOCUMENTARY link from the menu.
For a short, 2min trailer, please see the clip below: