The West

Bid to save rare WA wallabies
A black-flanked rock wallaby. Picture: WWF

Conservation groups are campaigning to save WA's critically endangered rock wallabies, claiming feral predators are helping to wipe them out.

The World Wildlife Fund announced details of its "critical rescue mission" of the black-flanked rock wallaby yesterday as it warned the small marsupial was facing extinction in WA unless action was taken.

WWF spokeswoman Katherine Howard said the wallabies had once been widespread and abundant across the State's southern half but a combination of threats had decimated the population.

Chief among these was land clearing in the South West and Wheatbelt, though the introduction of pests such as cats and foxes had also contributed to the problem.

Amid evidence that some of WA's few remaining populations, which usually inhabit small rocky outcrops in the State's agricultural region, had plummeted recently, Ms Howard urged authorities to step in.

"These elusive wallabies are living under siege in isolated rocky outcrops that are separated from other suitable habitat by agricultural lands," she said.

She said WWF had joined the Department of Environment and Conservation as well as other government and private organisations in a bid to save the remaining wallabies.

The DEC had built a 5km fence around one reserve to keep out predators, while a range of other efforts included increasing the amount of food available at important sites and intensive monitoring.

Craig Pentland, a researcher at Edith Cowan University, said rock wallabies were particularly vulnerable to predators because they were timid.

"Even the mere presence of a predator creates such a fearful response that it seems some rock wallabies prefer to stay in their refuges and risk starvation rather than risk a fatal encounter with a fox or a cat," he said.

Anyone wishing to help should visit the WWF website wallabyappeal.

The West Australian

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