Iconic Australian wallaby brought back from brink of extinction

Canberra, Dec 4 (IANS) A project aimed at bringing an iconic Australian wallaby species back from the brink of extinction has been deemed a success, a researcher said on Sunday.

The black-flanked rock wallaby was thought to be extinct for decades until a group of rock climbers in Western Australia spotted a pair of the marsupials with their young in 2015, Xinhua news agency reported.

The sighting of the wallabies prompted an immediate response by conservationists to save the species.

With funding from the World Wildlife Foundation, Australian scientists were able to breed 23 wallabies and release them back into WA’s Kalbarri National Park.

Anthony Desmond, the nature conservation leader at the Department of Parks and Wildlife, said the animals appeared to have assimilated well into their new habitats with all but one surviving.

“So to have 22 animals that we suspect are still alive — and we definitely know 10 of them are still alive — that’s a good outcome after this time period,” Desmond said.

The research team set up a network of motion sensing cameras in the gorge to capture rare footage of the typically shy wallabies.

“To be able to go through a camera and see a rock wallaby and see a joey coming out of a pouch … that’s a real reward,” Desmond said.

The gorges in the Kalbarri National Park was once home to the largest population of the wallabies in the world.

“I’d be hoping in the next five years it wouldn’t be unusual for people to see a rock wallaby … I’d expect people would be able to see them just as they’re going out having a look at the park,” Desmond said.

Corin Desmond, Anthony’s son and a fellow member of the research team, said he hopes the public would one day be able to see the wallabies as he has.

“I really hope that they get back to the original numbers and that people can just come down and see a rock wallaby hanging around at the bottom of a lookout,” he said.

–IANS

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