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Endangered central rock rat found

Posted: Fri, September 06, 2013

Black footed wallaby

The critically endangered central rock rat has been found in a collaborative project between the Central Land Council and the Department of Land Resource Managements Flora and Fauna Division (DLRM).

The elusive rock rat was found during a survey using remote sensor cameras on the Haasts Bluff Aboriginal Land Trust west of Alice Springs. The species was last recorded in this area in 1960 and were then  thought to have become extinct.

The central rock-rat (Zyzomys pedunculatus) is listed as endangered (EPBC Act and NT legislation) or critically endangered (IUCN Red List) and is one of Australia’s rarest and most enigmatic mammals.

Evidence was also found of the rare black footed wallaby which has not been seen in the area since 1991 .

Central Land Council Director David Ross said the find was exciting.

“It’s a great boost for the ranger group out there. Rangers  spend a lot of time on flora and fauna surveys for various agencies and to find a rare animal like this is unusual,” Mr Ross said.

This new record indicates that there may be further populations persisting on Aboriginal land and highlights the importance of local Aboriginal ranger groups in managing key threats to the species including predation by feral cats and wild fires.

The CLC, DLRM and the Anangu Luritjiku Rangers anticipate undertaking a predator baiting trial in the area next year to minimise impacts on the species by feral cats. They will also undertake fire management and survey other prospective sites for further populations.

Mr Ross thanked  Territory Natural Resource Management (TNRM) which provided the funding for the survey   and noted the importance of SEWPaC’s  Working on Country funding and the Indigenous Land Corporation’s Real Jobs program.

 “Now we have more than 90 Aboriginal rangers in 10 ranger groups and together they form  an extremely skilled and valuable environmental  workforce,” he said.