Annual Warru Survey provides promising results
Annual warru count promising
07 August 2019
APY Land Management Warru Rangers undertook their annual warru (Petrogale lateralis) survey within the ‘warru pintji’ (warru fence) in March and found a healthy population that appeared to be steadily increasing. Warru or Black-footed rock-wallaby are considered to be one of South Australia’s most endangered mammal species.
The warru pintji is a 100 hectare predator-proof warru enclosure that was constructed in 2010 as a way to help 16 captivity-bred warru from Monarto Zoo safely acclimatise and adapt to local conditions. The translocated population was established as part of the successful Warru Program which has been active in the APY Lands since 2010.
“The warru pintji population appears to be doing well and continuing to increase in size with 55 individuals trapped during the survey, this was 19 more than were trapped in 2018” said Alinytjara Wilurara’s Regional Ecologist Brett Backhouse. All warru that are trapped are microchipped and tagged to allow identification of individuals.
The weight, head, tail, foot and condition of individuals caught is also recorded to allow analysis of age, growth and animal health to be undertaken. All females caught are checked to see if they have pouched young to determine breeding success within the population.
“We use motion sensor cameras and Felixers to monitor and control feral predators around wild warru populations. Felixers are a device that has been developed by Ecological Horizons to control feral predators without the risk of non-target native species being killed.
They use a series of sensors to identify the body shape of animals passing the device and when the body shape of a cat is identified, the Felixer shoots a sealed dose of toxic gel onto their fur which is ingested when the animals instinctively groom themselves” said Brett.
Felixers are fitted with programmable audiolures to attract feral predators and a camera that photographs all animals detected by the sensors. They are solar powered meaning they can be left in remote locations for extended periods with minimal maintenance required.
Small vertebrate populations are also monitored at the same time as the warru surveys, using established pitfall trap lines located in and outside of the warru pintji. By comparing results from in and outside of the warru pintji, ecologists are able to study the impact that predators are having on populations of small vertebrates in the APY lands.
Aside from the work done with the warru pintji, the Warru Rangers monitor and manage wild populations of warru in the APY Lands, including the translocated population at Wamitjara. The program will continue to work towards increasing the current population and distribution of the Warru in APY Lands over the next four years by establishing a 3rd translocated population.
This is part of the Translocation and population management of Warru (Black-footed Rock-wallaby) into former habitats within the APY Lands, South Australia project, supported by the Alinytjara Wilurara NRM Board, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.