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Parma Wallaby (Macropus parma) Fact Sheet: Population & Conservation Status

Parma Wallaby Macropus parma

Population Status

  • Populations in the wild (Lunney & McKenzie 2008; Ord et al. 1999; Wilson and Mittermeier 2015)
    • Thought to be extinct until 1965
      • Introduced population rediscovered on Kawau Islands, New Zealand
      • 1967: rediscovered north of Sydney
      • More comprehensive surveys show its occurrence through part of its previously known distribution
    • No recent population estimates
      • 1992 estimate: 1,000-10,000 individuals
      • No evidence of a decline
    • Rare and patchily distributed
    • Although locally common, still considered to be rare

Conservation Status

  • IUCN Red List of Threatened Species - Near Threatened (Lunney & McKenzie 2019)
    • Estimated at <10,000 mature individuals, but no evidence of continuing decline at present
    • Almost qualifies as Threatened under criterion C2
  • Endangered Species Act (ESA) - Endangered (listed 1970)
  • CITES
    • Not listed (as of 08 Oct 2019) (UNEP 2019)
  • Australian Commonwealth
  • New South Wales Government
    • Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995: Vulnerable (21 Nov 2012)
    • Reasons for listing:
      • Severely reduced population and distribution
      • Species faces severe threatening processes
      • Species is an ecological specialist (depends on particular types of diet or habitat)

Threats to Survival

Threats (Lunney & McKenzie 2008; Miller 2001; Wilson and Mittermeier 2015)

  • Habitat fragmentation
  • Predation
    • Primarily by the introduced red fox (Vulpes vulpes)
    • To a lesser extent by feral cats
    • Dense vegetation seems to offer some protection
  • Collisions with road vehicles
  • Vegetation burning and cattle grazing practices decrease availability of shelter; impacts on populations uncertain

Management Actions and Recommendations

  • Reintroduction - two unsuccessful attempts, primarily due to predation (Short et al. 1992)
    • 1972 - Pulbah Island, New South Wales
      • Reintroduced 35 individuals to 64-ha (158-acre) island
      • Within about 4 months, none remained alive
      • Factors limiting success
        • Predation by dogs
        • Disturbance
    • 1988 - Robertson, New South Wales
      • Conservationist/businessman Peter Pigott imported 30 animals from Kawau Island in early 1970s
        • Established in approximately 10-ha (25-acre) fox-proof enclosure on property east of Sydney
        • Provided supplemental food and water
      • Colony grew to 300-400 individuals by 1987
      • Released 48 into enclosed site near Robertson (southern part of former range) in 1988
        • Site and surrounding area had been heavily baited with poison to remove foxes
        • Fitted 12 individuals with tracking collars
        • Immediate losses - 3 individuals
          • 1 - sedative overdose
          • 1 - hypothermia
          • 1 - drowning (chased into swamp by journalists present at release)
        • 3 weeks later, 26 carcasses recovered
        • By 2 months post-release, no collared animals remained alive
        • By 3 months post-release, no remaining individuals detected
      • Factors limiting success
        • All deaths attributed to foxes
        • Foxes ignored poisoned baits around enclosure, probably due to availability of live food
  • IUCN (Lunney & McKenzie 2008)
    • Individuals are already present in protected areas
    • Advisable conservation measures
      • Completion and implementation of a Recovery Plan
      • Studies to determine optimal survey methods
      • Detailed population survey
      • Targeted fox control programs
  • New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) - priority actions (OEH 2012):
    • Predator control
      • Foxes - investigate priority sites and implement control programs
    • Planning and management
      • Prepare Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) guidelines
      • Consider the species in conservation and fire management plans
      • Assess effectiveness of private and public forest management programs
    • Habitat conservation
      • Consider connection of habitat areas in planning
      • Maintain vegetation structure and habitat through fire management; assess need for guidelines
    • Interactions with humans
      • Promote landholder awareness
      • Assess significance to indigenous communities, identify opportunities for involvement in protection and management
  • AZA Species Survival Plan (SSP) (Hartman & Marti 2011)
    • North American managed care breeding program
    • Yellow SSP Program (voluntary participation)
    • Current population descended from 47 founders - gene pool limited
    • Management strategies that could improve genetic diversity:
      • Improve population growth rate
      • Increase number of animals breeding
      • Rotate breeding males
      • Select appropriate breeding animals
      • Acquire additional founders
    • New AZA Studbook created in May 2016

How Many Parma Wallabies?

two parma wallaby

Parma wallabies were thought to be extinct until 1965, when it was rediscovered in New South Wales.

Over the past 200 years, populations have drastically declined due to habitat loss and introduced predators, such as the red fox.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Global. All rights reserved.

Page Citations

Hartman & Marti (2011)
Lunney & McKenzie (2008)
Miller (2001)
Ord et al. (1999)

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