Team Leader, Cultural And Natural Values
Since November 2012, the Grampians rock-wallaby reintroduction has experienced its share of highs and lows. November saw the largest single release of wallabies to date, with 17 animals being released at Moora Creek. This was part of a new strategy to introduce greater genetic diversity into the population which was anticipated to alleviate depressed breeding. This was certainly a high for the diverse partners involved in the Victorian Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby recovery team.
Soon after the release the program experienced a steady succession of mortalities. Wallabies are radio-tracked on a regular basis, mortalities are retrieved as quickly as possible in order to aid post mortem investigation. Few post mortems delivered conclusive results, however it appears fox predation is still one process threatening the reintroduced colony. This is despite Parks Victoria’s Grampians Ark fox baiting program delivering a Rolls Royce fox control program in proximity to the colony site.
The recent succession of mortalities has exceeded what was identified to be a manageable level of mortality for the reintroduced colony. As a result DEPI and the Victorian Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby Recovery Team decided to suspend further releases until a program review is complete in November 2013. We anticipate the review will look back over the past year to draw upon any learning’s and also look forward to determine if Moora Creek is still a suitable site and if the current strategy is likely to achieve its overall objective, to secure a second wild population of Victorian Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies.
Reintroduction programs are challenging and the highs and lows experienced since November 2012 echo this sentiment. Despite the challenges, although strategies may change our ultimate goal to secure Victorian populations of Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies remains clear.