You’ve got to be lucky to see the shy black-flanked rock-wallaby, a small and extremely agile marsupial that darts among rocky outcrops and caves in central and western Australia. It emerges only at dusk to feed on grass, leaves, bark and fruits. But it’s a spectacle to behold on warm wintry days, when this gorgeous animal is sometimes glimpsed soaking up the sun's rays.
It's this preference for rocky refuges that has been the key to the wallaby's survival. Much of its surrounding landscape has been cleared for farming, and the rocks have afforded some protection from the foxes and cats that have decimated other Australian mammal populations.
Although this rock-wallaby is still quite widespread across its range, habitat destruction, predation by foxes and feral cats, and competition for food and shelter have exacted a terrible toll. Scientists report many local extinctions and the wallaby's distribution is now greatly reduced. The populations that remain are generally small, isolated and at risk of extinction.
Textured pads on its hind feet, which act much like the sole of a running shoe, enable the black-flanked rock-wallaby to bound around its rocky home. It moves swiftly and confidently, its dark fur perfectly camouflaged with its surroundings.
Rock-wallabies shelter during the hottest part of the day in caves and among cliffs to avoid water loss, then emerge in the early evening to graze on grass and herbs. They live in colonies, and although they rarely make a sound, scientists believe that members communicate using a complex array of behaviours and chemical signals.
There’s still a lot we don't know about the wary black-flanked rock-wallaby, but we do know that its numbers are declining and that we need to act fast. While there's clearly no place like home, moving wallabies to areas of suitable habitat and keeping out predators has proven effective.
Although still found across central and south-western Australia, the black-flanked rock-wallaby has faced mounting pressures.
Predation by foxes and feral cats, habitat destruction, and growing competition for food and shelter have caused many local extinctions and the rock-wallaby's distribution is now greatly reduced. Remaining populations are generally small, isolated and at risk of extinction.
What you can do to help
You can donate to our current appeal to support WWF's conservation efforts.
If you prefer getting your hands dirty, then volunteer to help monitor rock-wallabies by counting scats (poo), an activity scheduled every two months or you could join us in planting food plants to sustain these shy animals.
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