The warru (Petrogale lateralis MacDonnell Ranges Race) reintroduction project on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands, South Australia

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Summary

The Black-footed Rock-wallaby (Petrogale lateralis MacDonnell Ranges Race), or warru, as it is known by Anangu, the traditional owners of the region, formerly inhabited the rocky hills of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in north–west South Australia. However, introduced carnivores and inappropriate fire regimes have decimated the population, and there are now only 150–200 animals remaining in the wild. This prompted the formation of the Warru Recovery Team (WRT), a collaboration between Traditional Owners, Anangu communities and scientists, who are working together to recover warru populations across the APY Lands. The team are working on the Warru Reintroduction Project, which is combining modern science and the traditional ecological knowledge of Anangu to reintroduce warru back into the APY Lands. Between 2007 and 2009, 22 iti-warru (warru-joeys) were taken to Monarto Zoo (Monarto, South Australia) to initiate the captive population. These zoo-warru have successfully bred in captivity, and in 2011, six founder animals and five captive bred warru were returned to the APY Lands. They are being held in a 97-ha predator-proof warru enclosure that will allow zoo-warru to adjust to the local environment and to learn the survival skills of their ancestors, prior to being released into the wild. Lessons learnt from the release of warru into warru pintji will inform future release situations, as well as management of the in situ warru population, which remains the priority of the WRT.

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