New life for threatened wallaby population

The Department of Parks and Wildlife has moved a group of rare wallabies to the Kalbarri National Park to help boost the local population.

Yesterday, 23 of the threatened black-flanked rock wallabies were taken to the coastal town from the Wheatbelt to Kalbarri.

Environment Minister Albert Jacob said the relocation was just the first.

“The wallabies from the Wheatbelt will help establish two new populations in Kalbarri National Park and supplement the small population,” Mr Jacob said in a statement.

Department of Parks and Wildlife principal research scientist David Pearson said another release had been planned for next year.

“At this stage, we’ve only got two [releases planned], so this year and next,” he said.

“It will really depend on the success of this years’, as to whether we do it again next year.”

Radio collars and remote cameras will be used to monitor the animals and will help the department to determine whether they are thriving in their new environment.

The species had not been seen in Kalbarri National Park for 20 years and was considered locally extinct, unitl two wallabies were filmed by a rock climber in August last year,

The Department of Parks and Wildlife confirmed their existence in the area with the use of camera monitoring.

Feral cats, foxes and goats have been blamed for the decline in black-flanked rock wallaby numbers.

Mr Pearson said the goats had been controlled by culling.

The success of the program will rely on reducing predator numbers, which Mr Jacob said had caused wallaby numbers to drop.

“Their decline in the national park is largely due to goats competing with them for food and pushing them out of the protected gorge areas, leaving them vulnerable to predation by foxes and cats,” Mr Jacob said.

Kalbarri National Park has been baited for foxes since 1996, under the Department of Parks and Wildlife’s Shield program.

Mr Pearson said he hoped the program would be a success.

“Rock wallabies are pretty robust animals. We’ve done translocations of them in the past in other areas and they’ve hung on, so I’m pretty positive for these guys,” he said.