Endangered brush-tailed rock wallabies bounce back from bushfire and drought

Encouraging: Endangered wallaby and joey bring hope to species in wake of devastating bushfires. Photo courtesy Aussie Ark
Encouraging: Endangered wallaby and joey bring hope to species in wake of devastating bushfires. Photo courtesy Aussie Ark

The endangered brush-tailed rock wallaby was deeply affected by the devastating 2019-2020 bushfires.

Thousands of hectares of Australian land was left blackened, flattened and lifeless. Entire ecosystems were engulfed and more than one billion animals were incinerated. The true extent of these raging fires may never be fully known.

An estimated 80 per cent of brush-tailed rock wallaby habitat burned.

The species, which was already at risk, suffered insurmountable damage to population numbers.

Brush-tailed rock wallaby food drop. Video by Aussie Ark

Emergency food drops have been a lifeline for displaced, starving wildlife, and recent drops have shown encouraging signs. The landscape is now lush and green and once dusty pools now hold water.

Aussie Ark staff were delighted to have spotted a female brush-tailed rock wallaby with a young joey on their most recent food drop, a true sign of hope.

"What a sight it was. A mum and her young is the best sign of the species quite literally bouncing back," Aussie Ark president, Tim Faulkner said.

Aussie Ark has been and remains committed to the recovery of wildlife in the wake of such devastating times.

"We were working with this species many years before the recent bushfires. Why? Because there numbers were and are rapidly decreasing," Tim said.

"The bushfires have sped up their decline, and it is frightening."

Aussie Ark also worked with National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the NSW Saving our Species program to help deliver short term supplementary food to rock wallabies suffering from severe drought on nearby Curracabundi National Park.

The bushfires have sped up their decline, and it is frightening.

Tim Faulkner, president Aussie Ark

"Our initial assessment with Aussie Ark in January showed that local wallabies had been left stranded with limited food and water," Saving our Species senior project officer Katherine Howard said

"Follow up camera monitoring by NPWS staff revealed at least 26 brush-tailed rock wallabies accessing the food provided, as well as other native animals like red-necked wallabies, wombats and brush-tailed possums - so these food drops have really helped to sustain our wildlife."

With funding and support from the NSW Government's Saving our Species program, Aussie Ark also established a robust insurance and captive breeding program for the brush-tailed rock wallaby in 2018.

Following the 2019-20 bushfires, Aussie Ark has committed to doubling their captive population of brush-tailed rock wallabies in an effort to secure the future of this threatened species in the wild.

You can help the organisation, which not only work with the brush-tailed rock wallaby but seven other endangered or threatened wildlife species, by donating at www.aussieark.org.au.