Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby

© Wayne Lawler/AWC

Quick Facts

  • SCIENTIFIC NAME: Petrogale xanthopus
  • FAMILY: Macropodidae (Wallabies, Kangaroos and Tree-kangaroos)
  • NATIONAL CONSERVATION STATUS: Vulnerable
  • STATE CONSERVATION STATUS: Vulnerable in SA, Endangered in NSW and QLD
  • SURVIVING POPULATION: Estimated 2,000 in SA, 250 in NSW, unknown in QLD
Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby At Buckaringa Wildlife Sanctuary © Wayne Lawler/AWC

What is AWC doing?

AWC plays an important role in conserving this species in the central Flinders Ranges by protecting a significant population at Buckaringa. Just protecting suitable habitat is not enough to save the species and improve its chances in the future – it needs active threat abatement actions. AWC delivers effective conservation for this species by implementing goat and fox control on Buckaringa Sanctuary and cooperating with our neighbours to conduct similar work elsewhere in the region. We monitor the effectiveness of our threat abatement programs by conducting counts at set locations on Buckaringa twice a year to develop an index of numbers present.

Bowra © Wayne Lawler/AWC

Threats to the Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby

Population numbers were drastically reduced following European settlement by a combination of factors such as habitat alteration by livestock, hunting for sport and the fur trade and predation by introduced predators.

Current threats are competition for food and shelter from introduced herbivores such as goats, predation by introduced predators such as Foxes and Cats, habitat fragmentation, genetic risks of small, isolated colonies and catastrophic events such as wildfire and drought.

These threats are likely to be deepened with the expected changes, due to the effects of climate change, throughout their range.

Description

An adult male can be 80cm tall and weigh up to 11kg while an adult female is up to 60cm tall and weighs 6-7kg.  The coat markings are spectacularly complex being an overall fawn-grey with a white side stripe and cheek stripe, brown and white hip stripe and orange-yellow ears, forearms, hind legs and feet while the tail is orange-brown with darker bars or rings. Recent genetic work has determined that there are two subspecies of Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby: Petrogale xanthopus xanthopus in South Australia and New South Wales and Petrogale xanthopus celeris in south-west Queensland.

Ecology

Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby are grazers and browsers of grasses, forbs, herbs and low shrubs, switching with seasonal availability.  They are restricted to rock faces, cliffs, gorges and boulder fields in the semi-arid ranges, sheltering in small caves, cracks and crevices during the heat of the day and coming out to feed in late afternoon on the vegetation on the lower slopes. Colonies generally consist of a number of breeding females with their offspring and a dominant male with a few sub-dominant males. Young females tend to stay at the colony site, while the dominant male forces young males out. Animals can live up to 10 years in the wild, but mortality rates are high in the first year of life.

Range and Abundance

The Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby was once found throughout the semi-arid range country in South Australia (Gawler, Flinders and Olary Ranges), New South Wales (Gap and Cotauraundee Ranges) and south-west Queensland.  However, following European settlement both the distribution and abundance of this species declined dramatically.  The species now has a fragmented distribution of isolated colonies separated by unsuitable habitat as many previous colonies in between have become extinct, preventing dispersal by young animals. This species is now generally restricted to protected areas that are actively managed to abate threats.

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Buckaringa

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