Camera-Traps Detect "Extinct" Wallabies In Western Australia

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Using strategically placed camera-traps, conservationists in Australia have found signs of spectacled hare wallabies — a species that hasn't been seen in the area for the past 10 years.

Prior to the recent discovery, the last spectacled hare wallaby (Lagorchestes conspicillatus) to be seen at Roebuck Plains was a single road kill 10 years ago.


Credit: Yawuru PBC/WWF-Aus.

The wallaby is named from the distinctive orange fur that surrounds each eye. There used to be a relatively healthy population before 2004, but fox and cat predation has likely hastened the species' decline, as has changing fire regimes and drought. Foxes only reached Roebuck Plains in the last decade.


At night, the marsupials come out to graze on short, tender plants, but during the day, in order to avoid the sun and to conceal themselves, they hide in long grass where it's cooler. By doing so, they leave impressions called seats.

Recently, Country Managers in Yawuru set up eight camera-traps near wallaby seats and scats in likely habitats near the road kill site. They left the cameras running for two months, as well as oatmeal and peanut butter to attract the animals.


Remarkably, the cameras snapped photos of at least two specimens of the wallaby — definitive proof that they still exist.

The WWF in Australia is currently working to protect wallabies and other sensitive species in the area.


[Via Science Network Western Australia]