Fleet of foot they may be, but black-flanked rock-wallabies are not known to be airborne - that was until May 2016. That extraordinary aerial manoeuvre was the brainchild of WWF and the WA Department of Parks and Wildlife - a bold attempt to restore the population of rock-wallabies in Kalbarri National Park, 590 kilometres north of Perth. Buoyed by the success of the Nangeen Hill predator-proof fence and predator controls around other Wheatbelt rock-wallaby reserves, we decided to airlift rock-wallabies to Kalbarri, where their numbers had dropped dangerously low. Foxes and feral cats were largely to blame, as were feral goats, which compete with rock-wallabies for food and shelter.

Black-flanked rock-wallaby territory, Murchison Gorge in Kalbarri National Park, Western Australia.
Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA), with the financial and field assistance of WWF-Australia organised the translocation of black-flanked rock-wallabies (Petrogale lateralis) from Mt Caroline and Nangeen Hill to Kalbarri National Park.
The wallabies were processed and monitored overnight at a farmhouse in Mt Caroline and spent the night securely in black soft pouches. The wallabies were transported by car to Kellerberrin, then flown to Kalbarri National Park. 9th / 10th of May 2016.
© Karen Kalpage / DBCA / WWF-Aus

The first part of the project was to bring goat, fox and cat numbers under control in Kalbarri. Then, 23 rock-wallabies were trapped in the Wheatbelt and given a thorough health check, before boarding their very own flight for the two hour journey. Radio-tracking collars were fitted to each animal, so they could be monitored while settling into their new home, and remote-sensing cameras were installed to capture their first tentative steps. Watch the following video to see the story of the first translocation:

Project timeline

  • First translocation occurred May 2016
  • A second 'top-up' translocation occurred in May 2017