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Rescue mission for endangered wallaby

29 October 2015

The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) and Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) have relocated a small population of endangered bridled nailtail wallabies from drought-stricken Idalia National Park, to rescue the group before hotter conditions set in this summer.

EHP Acting Director Threatened Species Michael Devery said QPWS and EHP staff had taken seven wallabies to the captive breeding facility at Safehaven, Mount Larcom, run by Australian Animals Care and Education Inc (AACE) on 24 October 2015.

“Captive-bred wallabies were released onto the national park starting in 1994, to establish a second wild population of this critically endangered species,” Mr Devery said.

“Idalia is west of the natural distribution for the bridled nailtail wallaby, and as a consequence, drier conditions have affected their establishment. Bridled nailtails bred well there when conditions were right, but the likelihood that the population will survive in the wild on Idalia is now very poor.

“The ongoing severe drought in western Queensland has had a devastating impact, with intensive surveys showing that Idalia’s bridled nailtail numbers have dropped to about 20.

“The 2015-16 summer is predicted to be very hot and dry due to the El Niño weather cycle.

“Despite efforts to sustain the Idalia population by hand-feeding and watering, they remain at risk under these extreme conditions.

“Extraordinary measures to rescue this last introduced colony are now required.

“The local community is proud of their bridled nailtail wallaby population and will be sad to be losing them from Idalia, but it’s important for the survival of the species that we give the bridled nailtails every chance.

“The seven rescued wallabies are now being held in quarantine at Safehaven where they will be looked after until there are clear options for the animals in the future,” Mr Devery said.

“QPWS will continue supplementary feeding and monitoring with remote-sensing cameras to establish if there are any remaining wallabies, with the aim of locating and trapping these animals down the track.”

The bridled nailtail wallaby is listed as endangered in Queensland and nationally. Just one known wild population of bridled nailtail wallabies survives on Taunton National Park west of Rockhampton, after the species, thought to be extinct, was rediscovered there in the early 1970s.

Two populations of bridled nailtail wallabies were introduced to Idalia National Park and Avocet Nature Refuge, and two captive bridled nailtail wallaby populations live at AACE’s Safehaven, and at Scotia Sanctuary owned by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy in New South Wales.

Background

A recovery team for the bridled nailtail wallaby is led by the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP). This team provides advice and guidance to QPWS for management of the Taunton and Idalia national parks’ populations. More information: Bridled nailtail wallaby

The Idalia population of bridled nailtail wallabies was established in 1994 to spread risk for the critically low population and provide extra potential in recovery of the species.

This population has been in continuous decline since 2001 (from a high of more than 600 animals) since supplementing this population from a captive breeding program stopped.

Intensive surveys of bridled nailtail wallabies on Idalia by trapping, spotlighting and cameras over the last 12 months by QPWS and the University of Queensland have confirmed that the Idalia population is likely to be fewer than 20 individuals.

Idalia is located to the west of the known historical distribution of bridled nailtail wallabies and droughts have had, and continue to have, a devastating effect on the local population.

EHP Threatened Species Unit undertook a situation assessment of the bridled nailtail wallabies on Idalia and recommended the action to relocate the remaining animals.

AACE has been authorised to hold the relocated wallabies temporarily at Safehaven. The wallabies are held in quarantine from the existing Safehaven captive bridled nailtail wallaby population. Genders are segregated to avoid breeding until EHP makes a further assessment and decisions about the recovery strategy and captive breeding activities.

Last updated
29 October 2015