A CONCENTRATED effort to control pests, including foxes and feral goats, is helping to increase the population of yellow-footed rock wallabies in the Gawler Ranges, including at Hiltaba Nature Reserve.
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A recent spring survey revealed wallaby numbers in the Gawler Ranges were on the increase.

Nature Foundation SA (NFSA), together with the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) laid more than 9000 fox baits and removed nearly 7000 feral goats from Hiltaba.

NFSA conservation programs manager Alex Nankivell said these efforts hadn’t just benefited wallabies in the area.

“We have a range of other things on the property to track change and key conservation projects , including sites to track the recovery of native endemic plants,” he said.

“Through our comprehensive bio survey, we have seen once you remove predation and grazing pressure from the area, things can recover.”

The program in the Gawler Ranges is part of DEWNR’s ‘Bounceback’ conservation program, which is aimed at restoring the semi-arid environments of the Flinders and Gawler Ranges, as well as Olary Hills.

NFSA chiefe executive officer Ian Atkinson said signs on the reserve were promising, with young wallabies already spotted in the area.

“Recent monitoring showed the first signs in a long time yellow-footed rock wallabies were increasing on Hiltaba,” he said.

“Two young adults have been born since the Foundation purchased Hiltaba in 2012 and two females with pouch young were also found.”

Hiltaba Nature Reserve was launched on May 3 as a private protected area for the conservation of local flora and fauna, including the yellow-footed rock wallaby.

NFSA believes this is clear evidence the management of foxes and goats have allowed the wallabies on Hiltaba to start the long road to recovery and grow their numbers to the point where Hiltaba wallabies are no longer isolated from the nearby populations in the Gawlers Ranges National Park.

Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula senior ranger Michael Freak said there was some concern the populations around the Gawler Ranges, including at Mount Friday on the Hiltaba reserve, had been affected by a large bushfire.

“We have implemented fuel reduction burns in the past, adjacent to the wallaby habitat, this reduces but doesn’t totally remove the risk,” he said.

Work will continue to ensure yellow-footed rock wallaby numbers will increase higher, but it will mean ongoing monitoring for foxes and goats.

BOUNDING BACK: A young Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby captured during a recent survey which reveals a pleasing steady increase in numbers following goat control and fox baiting in the Gawler ranges.

BOUNDING BACK: A young Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby captured during a recent survey which reveals a pleasing steady increase in numbers following goat control and fox baiting in the Gawler ranges.

This article first appeared in Hangzhou Night Net.

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