The rock-wallabies are the wallabies of the genus Petrogale.
Rock-wallabies are nocturnal and live a fortress existence spending their days in steep, rocky, complex terrain in some kind of shelter (cave, overhang or vegetation) and ranging out into surrounding terrain at night for feed. The greatest activity occurs three hours before sunrise and after sunset.
Generally, there are three categories of habitat that the different species of rock-wallaby seem to prefer:
Suitable habitat is limited and patchy and has led to varying degrees of isolation of colonies and a genetic differentiation specific to these colonies.
The ongoing extinction of colonies in recent times is of particular concern. In 1988, at Jenolan Caves in New South Wales for example, a caged population of 80 rock-wallabies was released to boost what was thought to be an abundant local wild population. By 1992 the total population was down to about seven. The survivors were caught and enclosed in a fox and cat-proof enclosure, and the numbers in this captive population have since begun to increase.
Scientists consider foxes the major reason for the recent extinctions, along with competing herbivores, especially goats, sheep and rabbits, diseases such as toxoplasmosis and hydatidosis, habitat fragmentation and destruction and a lower genetic health due to the increasing isolation of colonies.
Habitat conservation and pest management addressing foxes and goats appear to be the most urgent recovery actions to save the species.
The national recovery team with support from non-government organisations such as the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife has implemented various programs ranging from land acquisition to captive breeding and awareness raising projects.
Monitoring programs are implemented to register any changes in population sizes. Genetic surveys establish the genetic diversity of populations. Fox and goat eradication aid the survival of local populations, and captive breeding programs are used as an 'insurance policy' to build up wallaby numbers to boost wild populations.
In the case of the Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby these strategies have prevented the extinction of the species in New South Wales.