THE FOUNDATION STORY
Over 100 years ago, ancestors of the Australian native Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies were taken from their natural habitats in the Blue Mountains of NSW along with parrots and possums and exported to Kawau Island New Zealand to form part of the Governor's private menagerie.
By 2000 the species had been classified as endangered of extinction in Australia. However on Kawau Island the animals were facing extermination as the Heritage Trust went about removing all introduced species as part of a plan to restore the natural ecosystem of the island which has become a popular tourist destination.
Deciding the wallabies must be saved a dedicated team of wildlife volunteers operating at Waterfall Springs Wildlife Sanctuary on the NSW Central Coast began the long process of obtaining statutory approvals for their rescue through the Australian and New Zealand governments.
In 2003, Waterfall Springs commenced the repatriation of 33 ‘central form’ Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies from Kawau Island, supported by the Department of Conservation New Zealand and Kawau Island Pohutukawa Trust.
Critical to the resources required were of hours of voluntary labour and support staff sent by Australian zoos to assist the operation. The project took three years, cost $210,000 and was primarily funded by corporate donors including Australian Geographic, Kennard's Hire and Sydney Environmental & Soil Laboratories.
Following 18 months in quarantine at Waterfall Springs, this foundation group of Rock-wallabies continues to breed successfully and their off spring are now being relocated to partner Zoos and Sanctuaries to support the wider Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby Recovery Program.
As the Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby captive breeding program progresses, the off-spring will eventually be reintroduced back into their natural wild habitats along the eastern mountains of NSW in an effort to regenerate declining populations.
As a result of the extensive research, planning and execution involved with the repatriation and subsequent breeding program of the Kawau Island BTRW population, Waterfall Springs is currently the lead organisation in the development and implementation of the captive breeding program for the NSW BTRW.
Since its establishment, Waterfall Springs has invested significant financial and volunteer resources into constructing purpose built enclosures that replicate as closely as possible natural BTRW habitats and to developing ground breaking animal management systems and technologies that have set the scene for the reintroduction of the species.
Waterfall Springs’ is now positioned as a centre of excellence in wildlife conservation, environmental education and research and will continue its commitment to ensuring it remains the most effective and efficient management site to achieve BTRW recovery at the local, regional, and state level.
© 2007 Waterfall Springs Wildlife Sanctuary