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Sharman's Rock Wallaby
Range and abundance
Sharman’s Rock-wallaby has the most restricted distribution of any Rock-wallaby species. It is confined to an area of around 200,000 hectares of the Seaview and Coane Ranges, centred on AWC’s Mount Zero-Taravale Wildlife Sanctuary. The estimated total population is only 800 – 1,000 individuals. There are around 20 known subpopulations, of which 80% are found on Mount Zero-Taravale.
Sharman’s Rock Wallaby is a medium-sized rock wallaby which stands around half a metre in height and weighs around 4 kg. Males are only slightly larger than females. The plush coat is grey-brown to sandy-brown above with paler underparts and a long dark tail ending in a tuft. They have a pale cheek-stripe and a dark mid-dorsal head strip. The paws and feet are darker than surrounding fur.
Sharman’s Rock Wallaby occupies rocky outcrops, usually with large granite boulders, where they shelter during the day. Wallabies emerge around dusk to feed in surrounding scrubs and woodlands. Individuals are often seen basking in the early morning and late afternoon in sheltered locations within outcrops. Females with pouch young have been photographed on camera traps at Mount Zero-Taravale in May; breeding may occur year-round.
Sharman’s Rock Wallaby is considered threatened because of its restricted distribution. Rock wallabies are vulnerable to predation by foxes and feral cats. At present, foxes occur just to the south of the known range of Sharman’s Rock Wallaby, but cats are present throughout its range. Other threats include habitat degradation as a result of inappropriate fire regimes and competition with feral herbivores (cattle, potentially goats, deer).
What is AWC doing?
AWC protects around 80% of the total population of Sharman’s Rock-wallaby. At Mount Zero-Taravale, Sharman’s Rock-wallaby lives in rocky habitats embedded within open forests and woodlands. It hides amongst the rocks during the day, emerging at night to feed. AWC monitors the population regularly using camera traps. Our fire management is designed to prevent important habitat being consumed by wildfires, while maintaining a mosaic of early successional vegetation preferred by the wallabies as food. Our feral animal control measures target feral herbivores: there are no foxes on Mount Zero-Taravale and feral cat densities appear low.
In 2015, PhD student Catherine Hayes began the first detailed ecological investigation into the Sharman’s rock-wallabies at Mount Zero-Taravale. The research explores many aspects of the species ecology and aims to estimate the population’s size and dynamics at both a colony-specific and population-wide scale as well as identifying environmental correlates of survival including fire history and rainfall.