Some of Australia’s populations of smaller kangaroos are facing extinction thanks to loss of habitat and feral animals.
You might never have seen some of the smaller members of Australia’s kangaroo family – and you might not get a chance to.
While the larger kangaroos known from the coat-of-arms are thriving, their smaller cousins like bettongs and rock-wallabies are becoming harder to find.
World Wildlife Fund Australia’s Darren Grover says the lesser-known relatives of the big roos are disappearing.
“Bettongs and rock-wallabies are not household names like the kangaroo,” Mr Grover said on Saturday.
“Our fear is they could be gone before many Australians even realise they once existed.”
Mr Grover said habitat loss and feral animals were driving some macropods – marsupials with large feet and powerful hind legs – to extinction.
“They share common problems, such as loss and degradation of habitat, and the scourge of introduced foxes and cats,” he said.
The northern bettong used to be found along the Queensland coast from Rockhampton to Cairns, but now there are only four small, isolated populations in tropical North Queensland.
The black-flanked rock-wallaby population has been devastated by the introduction of foxes, although efforts to keep a population in WA in a protected zone have been successful.
“They are all fascinating in their own way – rock-wallabies are acrobats, while bettongs are engineers that help trees to grow, improve the soil, and may even help prevent catastrophic bush fires by burying leaf litter,” Mr Grover said.
“What a tragedy if they were to join the seven macropod species already listed as extinct since European settlement.”
National Threatened Species Day is on September 7, the anniversary of the death in captivity of the last known thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger, in the Hobart Zoo in 1936.