Indigenous rangers will use sensor cameras to search for one of Western Australia’s rarest and most elusive marsupials – the spectacled hare-wallaby.
The surveillance project in unsurveyed areas of the Kimberley will be possible thanks to a Lotterywest grant for $2.2 million Environment Minister Stephen Dawson presented today while visiting a spectacled hare-wallaby field site near Broome.
In addition to helping WWF-Australia and partners to reduce the threats on the spectacled hare-wallaby, the grant will also help similar work with five other culturally significant species – golden bandicoot, Gouldian finch, nabarlek, northern quoll and black-footed rock-wallaby (wiliji).
WWF-Australia is collaborating with various partners for the conservation project including the Kimberley Land Council (Nyul Nyul Rangers and Bardi Jawi Rangers), Dambimangari Aboriginal Corporation (Dambimangari Rangers), Nyamba Buru Yawuru Aboriginal Corporation (Yawuru Country Managers), Walalakoo Aboriginal Corporation (Nyikina Mangala Rangers), Wilinngin Aboriginal Corporation (Wungurr and Nyaliga Rangers), and Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation (Uunguu Rangers).
Named for its distinctive orange fur surrounding each eye, the spectacled hare-wallaby was once feared to be locally extinct before it was rediscovered near Broome in 2014.
WWF-Australia and Yawuru Country Managers captured images of the stocky marsupial on sensor cameras set up to survey Yawuru country on the Roebuck Plains Station where the species was last sighted in 2004 as road kill.
A solitary and nocturnal species that lives in hummock or tussock grasslands and shrublands, the spectacled hare-wallaby has declined in the Kimberley due to threats such as feral predators and indiscriminate wildfires.
As stated by Environment Minister Stephen Dawson:
“The Kimberley’s remoteness has created a haven that supports species found nowhere else in the world.
“This grant will help an amazing alliance of organisations combining Indigenous knowledge with modern technology to protect the spectacled hare-wallaby and other precious animals for generations to come.
“The grant will also support the conservation efforts of Indigenous rangers, both women and men.”
As stated by WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman:
“One of the first tasks of this project is to estimate the distribution of spectacled hare-wallaby populations in remote and previously unsurveyed country.
“Although this little wallaby was once found across much of northern Australia, it has declined drastically, especially in the Kimberley where it is now very rare and sparsely distributed.
“The Kimberley populations need urgent survey and assessment if we are to understand where they are and what we can do to protect them.”