In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.
|EPBC Act Listing Status||Listed as Vulnerable|
|Listing and Conservation Advices||
Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Petrogale xanthopus xanthopus (Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby (SA and NSW)) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008df) [Conservation Advice].
|Recovery Plan Decision||
Recovery Plan not required, included on the Not Commenced List (1/11/2009).
|Adopted/Made Recovery Plans|
|Other EPBC Act Plans||
Threat Abatement Plan for Competition and Land Degradation by Feral Goats (Environment Australia (EA), 1999d) [Threat Abatement Plan].
|Policy Statements and Guidelines||
Survey guidelines for Australia's threatened mammals. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.5 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011j) [Admin Guideline].
Federal Register of
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument].
Documents and Websites
Documents and Websites
|Scientific name||Petrogale xanthopus xanthopus |
This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.
Scientific name: Petrogale xanthopus xanthopus
Common names: Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby, Ring-tailed Rock-wallaby
Genetic studies confirm the close relationship between the South Australian and NSW populations of Petrogale xanthopus xanthopus and the separation of both from the Queensland subspecies Petrogale xanthopus celeris (Eldridge 1997; Pope et al. 1996, 1998).
The Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby (SA and NSW) is brightly coloured with a white cheek stripe and orange ears. It is fawn-grey above with a white side-stripe, and a brown and white hip-stripe. Its forearms, hindlegs and feet are a rich orange to bright yellow colour. This subspecies grows to 65 cm and can weigh up to 11 kg. It has an orange-brown tail with horizontal brown bars or stripes, which grows to 70 cm long (Cronin 1991; Sharman et al. 1998).
The Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby has a disjunct distribution in South Australia and NSW.
In South Australia, colonies persist in the Gawler Ranges, Flinders Ranges and Olary Hills. At least 24 colonies are known to have become extinct in South Australia. Most of these represent at least half of the known colonies in the Olary Hills and Gawler Ranges regions.
In NSW, colonies have been found at three localities in the Gap Range and seven localities in the Cotauraundee Range (Lim & Giles 1987). No populations are known to remain outside these areas (Maxwell et al. 1996). These colonies are thought to be the remnants of larger and more widespread populations (Sharman et al. 1998).
The total extent of occurrence for the Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby is approximately 1 000 km². This total is the result of an estimation of the species' occurrence in the Flinders Ranges (North and Central), the Olary Ranges and Gawler Ranges in South Australia (a total of some 860 km²) and the Coturaundee Range and Mootwingee National Park in NSW (a total of approximately 140 km²).
The total area of occupancy for the Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby is likely to be somewhat less than the extent of occurrence, given that, for example, most records for the species occur on the fringes on the north Flinders Ranges, rather than across the entire area. The Olary and Gawler Ranges records also indicate that the species occurs sporadically in these areas, rather than across its possible range (SA DEH 2006).
As estimate of area of occupancy is therefore approximately 500-600 km².
The main locations in which the Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby currently exists are:
- Flinders Ranges (North, including Flinders Ranges National Park)
- Flinders Ranges (Central)
- Gawler Ranges
- Olary Ranges
New South Wales
- Coturaundee Range
- Mootwingee National Park
The distribution of the Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby shows considerable fragmentation, with populations now largely occurring only in protected areas and national parks. Populations in the Gawler and Olary Ranges are isolated from those in the Flinders Ranges, and the NSW colonies are likely to be the remnants of larger populations (Sharman et al. 1998). This is likely to be the result of competition with feral herbivores and predation by feral predators, as well as habitat degradation resulting from drought and pastoral activities.
In NSW, the total population was estimated to be between 20 and 250 animals in 1980 (Lim & Giles 1987). A report commissioned by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS) in 1992 indicated a population of between 170 and 215 animals in NSW (Lim et al. 1992).
In South Australia, population estimates indicate fluctuations in numbers, apparently associated with impacts from feral herbivores, particularly goats, and predation by foxes. A population estimate for 1992 indicated between 7000 and 10 000 animals in SA (Lim et al. 1992).
However, more recent figures indicate lower population numbers. The Flinders Ranges National Park and Blinman area recorded a population high of more than 1500 animals in 2003, but only approximately 680 animals in 2005. The central Flinders Ranges recorded a high in population numbers in 2001 of 1605 and 580 in 2005. Numbers in the Olary Ranges have similarly fluctuated. These counts are based on aerial winter surveys conducted annually (SA DEH 2006).
Based upon these figures, the current population of Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby in South Australia is likely to be around 2000 animals. However, population fluctuations and aerial survey methods render this estimate highly speculative.
There is evidence of a general population decline in the Flinders Ranges and that rock-wallabies were present in greater densities in the past (Maxwell et al. 1996).
In the Flinders Ranges, colony numbers are small and subject to large fluctuations in response to drought (Copley & Alexander 1997).
Buckaringa Wildlife Sanctuary in South Australia supports at least eight colonies of Yellow-footed Rock-wallabies and is one of the largest populations in the southern/central Flinders Ranges. This population is protected, and is playing a critical role in research and protection for the species (AWC 2007a).
The Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby occurs in various reserves, including the Flinders Ranges, Mount Remarkable and Gammon Ranges National Parks, and Telowie Gorge and Dutchmans Stern Conservation Parks in South Australia. Buckaringa Wildlife Sanctuary (c. 50 km north-east of Port Augusta) supports at least eight colonies of this species.
In NSW, the species occurs in Cotauraundee Nature Reserve and Mootwingee National Park (Maxwell et al. 1996).
The Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby inhabits rocky outcrops in semi-arid country, ranging from sandstones, limestones and conglomerates in the Flinders Ranges, to granites in the Gawler Ranges and Olary Hills (Copley & Alexander 1997). Some colonies are found in association with permanent fresh water, often around soaks at the edge of rock faces, while other colonies appear to exist without a reliable water supply. However, there is evidence to suggest all colonies require some form of permanent water supply up to 5 km distant (Lim et al. 1992). Suitable habitat often includes a greater variety of plant species than on the surrounding arid plains (Sharman et al. 1998).
Analysis of habitat in the Flinders Ranges suggests that Yellow-footed Rock-wallabies favour cliff-lines with a southerly aspect, as these provide shelter from the sun and thus support more abundant vegetation. In contrast, many NSW colonies are found at east or northeast facing sites (Lim et al. 1992).
Studies of captive animals indicate that Yellow-footed Rock-wallabies reach sexual maturity at 18 months (Lim et al. 1992). Longevity of the species for both males and females is potentially at least 10 years (Robinson et al. 1994), although trapped animals in Middle Gorge, South Australia, had a life expectancy of three to six years, with a mortality of 90% for animals over six years old (Lim et al. 1992).
A biased sex ratio of two males for every female has been reported for immature age-classes (Lim et al. 1992; Poole et al. 1985 in Lim et al. 1992). However, sex ratio appears to even out by the time the wallabies reach sexual maturity suggesting either higher mortality for young males or dispersal of young males to other areas (Lim et al. 1992).
The Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby uses rocky outcrops with suitable crevices and ledges for breeding, and shelter is essential. In captivity, gestation was calculated as 31.8 ± 0.8 days (n=5), pouch life as 194.9 ± 3.9 days (n=7) and weaning up to a month later (Poole et al. 1985).
In the wild at Middle Gorge, South Australia, births occurred throughout the year but with distinct peaks in April and September, and were considered to be influenced by rainfall patterns (Robinson et al. 1994).
In a detailed study at Middle Gorge, South Australia, the Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby was found to be an opportunistic feeder, eating grasses, forbs and browse, according to seasonal availability (Lim et al. 1987; Sharman et al. 1998). In NSW, forbs were preferred foods with browse becoming more important during drought (Dawson & Ellis 1979).
Captive-bred animals released into the wild at Aroona Dam, northern Flinders Ranges, ate mostly grasses and forbs prior to their release, but within a month had increased their intake of browse plants (Lapidge 2000).
Home ranges measured by radio telemetry at Middle Gorge, South Australia, were similar for both sexes. Those for males were 210.7 ± 21.8 ha (n=6) in summer and 168.8 ± 31.6 ha (n=10) in winter. For females, the range was 134.5 ± 42.3 ha (n=5) in summer and 164.3 ± 67.1 ha (n=6) in winter. Overlap in home ranges was considerable (Lim et al. 1987).
Dispersal of young could not be studied but adult dispersal and movement between colonies was observed at Middle Gorge (Robinson et al. 1994). Observations of sex ratios at birth and at sexual maturity indicate that young males may be dispersing to areas outside the birth colony (Lim et al. 1992).
During summer, when daytime temperatures can reach up to 40°C, this species is strictly nocturnal, but it moves around by day and by night during winter (Sharman et al. 1998).
The Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby was subject to intensive hunting by fur traders in the past (AWC 2007a). Hunting and pastoral development contributed to the early decline of the species (Dickman et al. 1993). Hundreds of skins from this species were exported annually from Adelaide to London late last century. This period of intense hunting led to significant reduction in numbers in some areas, particularly the Flinders Ranges (Sharman et al. 1998).
Habitat destruction (AWC 2007a, b) is another threat both in the past and continuing today. There has been considerable alteration to vegetation throughout the species' range due to grazing and browsing by domestic stock and feral herbivores, as well as the removal of timber for the mining industry and fencing (Sharman et al. 1998).
Predation by feral cats and foxes is a considerable threat, as is competition from introduced herbivores, primarily rabbits, sheep and goats (AWC 2007a; Dovey et al. 1997; Sharman et al. 1998).
Goats have a significant overlap in diet with rock wallabies, particularly during drought (Dawson & Ellis 1994). This affects the species' ability to find food, which is reduced through incidences of drought and competition from feral species. During a moderate drought in NSW in 1982-83, numbers of Yellow-footed Rock-wallabies dropped by 60%. After the drought, numbers recovered in areas where goats were controlled, but numbers remained depressed in areas with no goat control (Sharman et al. 1998).
Of 23 dead wallabies examined in the Flinders Ranges between 1980 and 1984, three were identified as definite fox kills, two as possible fox kills and one as a possible dingo kill (Hornsby 1997).
Yellow-footed Rock-wallabies are also prey for Wedge-tailed Eagles, which have been observed swooping on a colony as the wallabies ran across a rock face (Sharman et al. 1998). Studies in NSW indicate that rock wallabies only comprise a very small part of the eagles' diet, suggesting they are taken opportunistically and do not represent a major dietary component (Sharp & Norton 1995).
In addition, small populations are suceptible to genetic risks such as inbreeding and catastrophic events such as severe storms, wildfire and disease (Dickman et al. 1993).
A number of feral animal control programs have been introduced at various significant colonies for this species in Buckaringa Wildlife Sanctuary in South Australia. Numbers of Yellow-footed Rock-wallabies at several colonies have increased immediately following the introduction of these programs. However, the increases have not been sustained and further research is required to explain the reasons for this (AWC 2007a).
At Buckaringa Wildlife Sanctuary, the Australian Wildlife Conservancy is implementing a program to protect and maintain Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby habitat by:
- Establishing a feral animal control program that targets feral herbivores (goats and rabbits) and feral predators (cats and foxes).
- Controlling erosion, restoring native vegetation and natural springs.
The AWC is also investigating movement patterns, habitat use and population dynamics by radio-collaring 10 Yellow-footed Rock-wallabies with GPS radio-collars in order to plot the exact movements of individuals (AWC 2007a).
The program aims to:
- Protect populations and reduce current levels of mortality through the control of feral predators.
- Ensure greater availability of food and shelter through the removal of goats and rabbits.
- Improve understanding of the factors that cause population numbers to fluctuate, the relationships between different colonies and the patterns of the species' dispersal and use of habitat (AWC 2007a).
The South Australian Department of Environment and Heritage is also managing a conservation program for Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby colonies in the Olary Hills, central Flinders Range and Gawler Ranges. The project commenced in 1993 and focused initially upon fox and feral herbivore control. The project also aims to improve habitat quality to achieve a sustainable increase in rock-wallaby populations. A rock-wallaby management program for South Australia will also be developed which will include both government and landholders (SA DEH 2006).
New South Wales
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service produced a report outlining proposed management objectives for NSW colonies. The management program would aim to:
- Control competitors, especially feral goats.
- Control predators, especially foxes.
- Enhance water sources.
- Conserve habitat outside reserves.
- Monitor Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby numbers.
- Survey for additional colonies.
- Re-establish former colonies.
To further these objectives, the report recommended further research into several areas of the species' ecology:
- Movements, home ranges and habitat use.
- Impact of predation.
- Population ecology of browse species.
- Interaction with other herbivores.
- Water and nutritional requirements (Lim et al. 1992).
This work was followed up by pest control measures undertaken in areas of NSW known to harbour Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby colonies (Mootwingee National Park and Coturaundee Nature Reserve). This included fox baiting, goat musters and trapyards, ongoing aerial goat surveys to estimate numbers, monitoring of rabbit numbers and ongoing studies of rabbit population dynamics (in relation to fox baiting), and studies of predation by Wedge-tailed Eagles. Population numbers of the Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby will be monitored as this work continues (Sharp & Norton 1995).
The AWC has restored natural water flows, waterholes and springs in the past 12 months at Buckaringa Wildlife Sanctuary, including the removal of two man-made dam walls at two locations. Goat-resistant fences have also been modified along 23 km of Buckaringa's boundary and over 1 000 goats have been removed from the Sanctuary (AWC 2007a).
Lim, L., A. C. Robinson, P. B. Copley, G. Gordon, P. D. Canty and D. Reiner (1987). The conservation and management of the Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby Petrogale xanthopus Gray, 1854. Department of Environmental Planning, South Australia. Special Publication No. 4.
Lim, L., N. Sheppard, P. Smith and J. Smith (1992). The biology and management of the Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby (Petrogale xanthopus) in NSW. Hurstville, NSW: NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.
|Threat Class||Threatening Species||References|
|Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation||Petrogale xanthopus xanthopus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006qu) [Internet].|
|Biological Resource Use:Hunting and Collecting Terrestrial Animals:Harvesting for recreational purposes||Petrogale xanthopus xanthopus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006qu) [Internet].|
|Energy Production and Mining:Mining and Quarrying:Habitat destruction, disturbance and/or modification due to mining activities||Commonwealth Conservation Advice on Petrogale xanthopus xanthopus (Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby (SA and NSW)) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2008df) [Conservation Advice].|
|Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation||Oryctolagus cuniculus (Rabbit, European Rabbit)||Petrogale xanthopus xanthopus in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage (DEH), 2006qu) [Internet].|
|Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation||Vulpes vulpes (Red Fox, Fox)|
|Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or predation||Felis catus (Cat, House Cat, Domestic Cat)|
|Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation||Capra hircus (Goat)|
|Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Grazing, tramping, competition and/or habitat degradation||Ovis aries (Sheep)|
|Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Predation, competition, habitat degradation and/or spread of pathogens by introduced species|
|Species Stresses:Indirect Species Effects:Low numbers of individuals|
Australian Wildlife Conservancy (2007a). Major On-ground Programs: Protecting the Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby at Buckaringa Wildlife Sanctuary, SA. [Online]. Available from: http://www.australianwildlife.org/yfrw_project_information.asp. [Accessed: 27-Sep-2007].
Australian Wildlife Conservancy (2007b). Optus and AWC join forces to tackle Australia's extinction crisis Media Release, 18 June 2007. [Online]. Available from: http://www.australianwildlife.org/news_details.asp?ID=58. [Accessed: 27-Sep-2007].
Copley, P. B. & P. J. Alexander (1997). Overview of the status of rock-wallabies in South Australia. Australian Mammalogy. 19:153-162.
Cronin, L. (1991). Key Guide to Australian Mammals. Balgowlah, NSW: Reed Books.
Dawson, T.J. & B.A. Ellis (1979). Comparison of the diets of yellow-footed rock-wallabies and sympatric herbivores in western New South Wales. Australian Wildlife Research. 6: 245-254.
Dawson, T.J. & B.A. Ellis (1994). Did dietary competition play a role in the extinction of small macropodids in western New South Wales with the coming of European settlement?. In: Lunney, Daniel, Suzanne Hand, Philip Reed & David Butcher, eds. Future of the fauna of western New South Wales. Page(s) 75-80. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman.
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC) (2011j). Survey guidelines for Australia's threatened mammals. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.5. [Online]. EPBC Act policy statement: Canberra, ACT: DSEWPAC. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/publications/threatened-mammals.html.
Dickman, C.R., R.L. Pressey, L. Lim & H.E. Parnaby (1993). Mammals of particular conservation concern in the Western Division of New South Wales. Biological Conservation. 65:219-248.
Dovey, L., V. Wong & P. Bayne (1997). An overview of the status and management of rock-wallabies (Petrogale) in New South Wales. Australian Mammalogy. 19: 163-168.
Eldridge, M.D.B. (1997). Restriction analysis of mitochondrial DNA from the Yellow-footed rock-wallaby, Petrogale xanthopus: implications for management. Wildlife Research. 24:289-294.
Hornsby, P. (1997). Possible causes of mortality in the yellow-footed rock-wallaby, Petrogale xanthopus Gray (Marsupialia: Macropodidae). Australian Mammalogy. 19: 245-248.
Lapidge, S.J. (2000). Dietary adaptations of reintroduced yellow-footed rock-wallabies, Petrogale xanthopus xanthopus (Marsupialia: Macropodidae), in the northern Flinders Ranges, South Australia. Wildlife Research. 27: 195-201.
Lim, L., A.C. Robinson, P.B. Copley, G. Gordon, P.D. Canty & D. Reiner (1987). The Conservation and Management of the Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby Petrogale xanthopus Gray, 1854. Department of Environmental Planning, South Australia. Special Publication No. 4.
Lim, Leong, Nick Sheppard, Peter Smith & Judy Smith (1992). The biology and management of the Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby (Petrogale xanthopus) in NSW. Hurstville, NSW: NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Lim, T.L. & J.R. Giles (1987). Studies on the yellow-footed rock-wallaby, Petrogale xanthopus Gray (Marsupialia: Macropodidae). 3. Distribution and management in western New South Wales. Australian Wildlife Research. 14:147-161.
Maxwell, S., A.A. Burbidge & K. Morris (1996). The 1996 Action Plan for Australian Marsupials and Monotremes. [Online]. Wildlife Australia, Environment Australia. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/resource/action-plan-australian-marsupials-and-monotremes.
Poole, W.E., J.C. Merchant, S.M. Carpenter & J.H. Calaby (1985). Reproduction, growth and age determination in the Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby Petrogale xanthopus Gray, in captivity. Australian Wildlife Research. 12:127-136.
Pope, L.C., A. Sharp & C. Moritz (1996). Population structure of the yellow-footed rock-wallaby Petrogale xanthopus (Gray, 1854) inferred from mtDNA sequences and microsatellite loci. Molecular Ecology. 5: 629-640.
Pope, L.C., A. Sharp & C. Moritz (1998). The genetic diversity and distinctiveness of the yellow-footed rock-wallaby Petrogale xanthopus (Gray, 1854) in New South Wales. Pacific Conservation Biology. 4: 164-169.
Robinson, A.C., L. Lim, P.D. Canty, R.B. Jenkins & C.A. Macdonald (1994). Studies of the yellow-footed rock-wallaby, Petrogale xanthopus Gray (Marsupialia: Macropodidae). Population studies at Middle Gorge, South Australia. Wildlife Research. 21: 473-481.
Sharman, G B, G M Maynes, M D B Eldridge & R L Close (1998). Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby Petrogale xanthopus. In: Strahan, R, ed. The mammals of Australia. Page(s) 391-393. Sydney: Australian Museum/Reed New Holland.
Sharp, Andy and Melinda Norton (1995). Drought enhanced control of foxes and goats to protect the Yellow-footed rock wallaby in western NSW. Final Report. Broken Hill: NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
South Australian Department of Environment and Heritage (SA DEH) (2006). Threatened species: Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby. [Online]. Available from: http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/biodiversity/yellow_foot.html. [Accessed: 17-Oct-2007].
This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.
Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Petrogale xanthopus xanthopus in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed Mon, 10 Mar 2014 10:22:18 +1100.