Species profile

Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby

Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby

Range and abundance

The Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby was once found throughout the semi-arid range country in South Australia (Gawler, Flinders and Olary Ranges), New South Wales (Gap and Cotauraundee Ranges) and south-west Queensland.  However, following European settlement both the distribution and abundance of this species declined dramatically.  It now occurs in small, often isolated colonies within its former range.

Description

An adult male can be 80cm tall and weigh up to 11kg while an adult female is up to 60cm tall and weighs 6-7kg.  The coat markings are spectacularly complex being an overall fawn-grey with a white side stripe and cheek stripe, brown and white hip stripe and orange-yellow ears, forearms, hind legs and feet while the tail is orange-brown with darker bars or rings. There can be a regional variation in the richness of these colours.  Fur is short and neat.

Ecology

Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby are grazers and browsers of forbs, herbs and low shrubs.  They are restricted to rock faces, cliffs, gorges and boulder fields in the semi-arid ranges, sheltering in small caves, cracks and crevices during the heat of the day and coming out to feed in late afternoon on the vegetation on the lower slopes. Colonies generally consist of a number of breeding females with their offspring and a dominant male with a few sub-dominant males. Young females tend to stay at the colony site, while the dominant male forces young males out. Animals can live up to 10 years in the wild, but mortality rates are high in the first year of life.

Threats

Population numbers were drastically reduced following European settlement by a combination of factors such as habitat alteration by livestock, hunting for the fur trade and sport and predation by introduced predators.

Current threats are competition for food and shelter from introduced herbivores such as goats, predation by introduced predators such as Foxes and Cats, habitat fragmentation, genetic impediments of small colony size and catastrophic events such as wildfire and drought.

The species now has a fragmented distribution of isolated colonies as many previous colonies in between have become extinct, preventing dispersal by young animals. This species is now generally restricted to protected areas that are actively managed to abate threats.


What is AWC doing?

AWC protects one of the largest populations of the Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby in one location at Buckaringa. Just protecting suitable habitat is not enough to save the species and improve its chances in the future – it needs active threat abatement actions. We deliver effective conservation for this species by implementing effective goat and fox control on Sanctuary and cooperating with our neighbours to conduct similar work elsewhere in the region. We monitor the effectiveness of our threat abatement programs by conducting counts at set locations on Buckaringa twice a year to develop an index of numbers present.

Did you know:

Recent genetic work has determined that there are two subspecies of Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby: Petrogale xanthopus xanthopus in South Australia and New South Wales and Petrogale xanthopus celeris in south-west Queensland. 

 

Early taxonomists named the species Petrogale xanthopus. Xanthopus refers to yellow foot while Petrogale refers to Rock-weasel or Yellow-footed Rock-weasel.