The Banded Hare-wallaby is the sole survivor of an ancient group of kangaroos which included the giant short-faced kangaroos. The species is highly vulnerable to predation by cats and foxes – once widespread across southern inland Australia, today it survives only in feral predator-free areas and on offshore islands. The only naturally occurring populations are on Bernier and Dorre Islands in Shark Bay, Western Australia.
Since 2004, AWC has established two new populations of Banded Hare-wallabies. A series of translocations from 2004 to 2012 established a population on AWC’s Faure Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Shark Bay, Western Australia, which has no feral predators.
In late 2017, AWC reached a milestone: returning Banded Hare-wallabies to mainland Australia for the first time in more than one hundred years. The initial translocation involved the transfer of 60 Banded Hare-wallabies from Shark Bay to Mt Gibson Wildlife Sanctuary in WA. AWC’s 7,800-hectare fenced area at Mt Gibson is the largest feral predator-free haven in mainland WA. Over time, the growth of the Mt Gibson population is expected to substantially increase the total population of the species.
Banded Hare-wallabies are highly susceptible to predation by foxes and cats, and have not survived anywhere that these feral predators are present. Attempts to reintroduce the species to Dirk Hartog Island and Peron Peninsula in Western Australia failed due to predation by feral cats, combined with drought. The south-west of Western Australia has experienced a decline in rainfall in recent decades; further declines are likely to put pressure on populations of the species. In the past, extensive areas of Banded Hare-wallaby habitat were cleared for agriculture.
Banded Hare-wallabies are small and stoutly built, weighing 1-2 kg, with a head-body length of 40-45 cm. They have a series of transverse dark bars that run from the middle of their back to the base of their tail. They have long, thick fur that is predominantly grey but also grizzled with pale yellow and silver; and a rufous tinge on their flanks.
Banded Hare-wallabies are mostly active at night, and shelter during the day under dense Acacia thickets. They feed primarily on shrubs and, to a lesser extent, grasses.
Breeding can occur at any time throughout the year, but peaks in late summer. Embryonic diapause has been recorded in this species. This means that, soon after giving birth, the female mates again, and the resultant embroyo stays dormant while the pouch is occupied. In the wild, lifespan is approximately six years.
Range and abundance
Banded Hare-wallabies once occurred across southern Australia from western Victoria to south-west Western Australia. The last record from mainland Australia was in 1906, and today the only naturally occurring populations are on Bernier and Dorre Islands, Shark Bay, Western Australia.
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