Some South Australian Animal Facts

 

 by

 

Andre van Paridon

 

There were seventeen species of kangaroo in South Australia at the time of European settlement.     This had a dramatic effect on each of them in various ways as can be seen by the following list, which shows their status today.

 

Red Kangaroo (Macropus rufus)- Common over a wide area

Western Grey Kangaroo (Macropus fuliginosus) - Common in southern temperate areas

Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus) – Rare in SA, occurs in the South East and occasionally found in the Riverland of S.A.

Common Wallaroo (Euro) (Macropus robustus)s - Common in northern hilly areas

Red-Necked Wallaby - Common where suitable habitat exists in the South East

Toolache Wallaby - Presumed extinct

Yellow-footed Rock-Wallaby - Uncommon, occurs in the Gawler and Flinders Ranges

Black-footed Rock-Wallaby - Sub species, Pearson Island Rock-Wallaby - exists on three off-shore islands

Crescent Nailtail Wallaby - Presumed extinct

Dama Wallaby (Tammar) – Extremely Rare on mainland - common on Kangaroo Island

Red-Bellied Pademelon - Extinct in S.A. still occurs in the eastern states

Desert Rat-Kangaroo - Presumed extinct

Rufous Hare-Wallaby - Extinct in S.A.,. still occurs on islands off Western

Australia

Eastern Hare-Wallaby - Presumed extinct.

Brush-Tailed Bettong - Presumed extinct, rare, the only known specimens are due to re-introduction programs

Burrowing Bettong - Extinct in S.A., still occurs on islands off Western

Australia

Long-Nosed Potoroo - Extinct in S.A., still found in the Eastern states where suitable habitat exists

 

The Yellow-Footed Rock-Wallaby Research Programme

When this program began in 1976 it was thought that this wallaby was declining.   Now, it is known that although it has been reduced in range and- numbers, it is not in immediate danger of extinction, as nearly 200 separate colonies have been located in the Flinders Ranges alone.

Research at a study site there has provided information on population changes and feeding habits. From these studies it will be possible to develop management methods to ensure their long term survival.

 

The Pearson Island Rock-Wallaby Re-introduction

The Pearson Island Rock-Wallaby, as the name implies, only occurs naturally on Pearson Island.   Single small populations are vulnerable should environmental changes occur: e.g. fire, introduction of predators or competitors for the same food source, but, as yet. fire is the only real danger.

 

As the attempt to breed these animals in captivity in the 1960’s was unsuccessful, it was decided to introduce them to other suitable islands.   Two privately owned islands were chosen. namely Wedge and Thistle Islands, as they are both fox and rabbit free.    In 1975 eleven wallabies were introduced to Wedge Island and ten to Thistle Island.   Both colonies are now established and expanding, giving the Pearson Island Rock-Wallaby an excellent chance of survival.

 

The Brush-Tailed Bettong Re-Introduction

 

These animals have been extinct in S. A. since l903 but still remain in small colonies in Western Australia.   Animals imported from Perth- Zoo have been successfully bred in captivity in S.A. and the off-spring from these have since been established on two small islands off Eyre Peninsula.  Efforts have been made to introduce them on Wedge Island and also to re-introduce them on St. Francis Island.

 

Re-introduction to the mainland of S.A. is unlikely as it was probably due to the loss of suitable habitat, predation by foxes and competition with rabbits which caused their extinction in the first place and all of these conditions still exist today.

 

Summary

 

As it has only taken 200 years for nine of the original seventeen species to become extinct in S.A. alone, how long will it take to wipe out more, if not all species known to us?   Surely we should be more aware of what European settlement has done, and is continuing to do, to the environment and consequently the survival of these animals.

 

Reference: Kangaroo Conservation in South Australia Department of Environment and Planning

 

 
Bennett's Wallaby
Juvenile NT Brushtail Possum
Swamp Wallaby
Golden Brushtail Possum
Red Kangaroos
Yellow-footed Rock-wallabies
Baby Squirrel Glider
Sugar Glider
Euro

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