A marsupial feared locally extinct has been again spotted in Western Australia’s Kimberley region, thrilling scientists and conservationists.
The threatened spectacled hare-wallaby was recently rediscovered near Broome after nearly a decade without any recorded sightings.
Using camera traps, Yawuru country managers and WWF-Australia captured images of the marsupial during its nightly forage.
The sensor cameras were set up as part of a survey on Yawuru-owned Roebuck Plains Station where the species was last sighted in 2004.
The wallaby, named from the distinctive orange fur that surrounds each eye, is considered very rare in the Kimberley region.
Although it is widespread throughout other parts of northern Australia, its population is considered to be in decline.
“We need to keep a close eye on the threats to this rare and fascinating animal so we get the right information to help it survive into the future,” WWF-Australia spokesman Alexander Watson said.
“Their shelter and feeding requirements make them highly sensitive to habitat changes, so assessing their numbers is a good indicator of overall health of the local environment.”
Yawuru Corporation board director Dean Mathews said the find reflected the value of traditional ecological knowledge in collaborative research partnerships.
“We now have an opportunity to rescue these animals and their habitats through the implementation of sustainable land management practices, Mr Mathews said.
“The Yawuru Indigenous Protected Area, which will soon be dedicated, will enable the regeneration of the country so that this wallaby and other threatened species can thrive as they once did.”
The spectacled hare-wallaby uses large grass tussocks for shelter from predators and extremely hot daytime temperatures.
Threats include inappropriate fire regimes, trampling by larger animals, introduced predators, grazing and extreme weather events such as droughts.