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Lagorchestes hirsutus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA DIPROTODONTIA MACROPODIDAE

Scientific Name: Lagorchestes hirsutus
Species Authority: Gould, 1844
Common Name/s:
English Rufous Hare Wallaby, Western Hare Wallaby, Rufous Hare-wallaby, Mala, Western Hare-wallaby, Ormala, Wurrup
French Wallaby-lièvre De L'Ouest, Wallaby-lièvre Roux
Spanish Canguro-liebre Peludo

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable D2 ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor/s: Richards, J., Morris, K., Friend, T. & Burbidge, A.
Reviewer/s: Lamoreux, J. & Hilton-Taylor, C. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Justification:
Listed as Vulnerable as there is a restricted area of occupancy, which includes less than five locations that are each easily susceptible to either a large fire event or to elimination by introduced predators.
History:
1996 Vulnerable
1994 Endangered (Groombridge 1994)
1990 Rare (IUCN 1990)
1988 Rare (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
1986 Rare (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
1982 Rare (Thornback and Jenkins 1982)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The Rufous Hare-wallaby was formerly found throughout spinifex deserts of central Northern Territory and Western Australia and north-western parts of South Australia. There are four recognised taxa:

Lagorchetes hirsutus hirsutus formerly occurred only in the south-west of Western Australia. It is extinct.

L. h. bernieri is restricted to Bernier Island, Western Australia.

L. h. dorreae is restricted to Dorre Island, Western Australia. Whether there are separate subspecies on Bernier and Dorre Islands is a moot point; Western Australian scientists do not recognise two subspecies for the purposes of listing, bernier is considered to have priority (A. Burbidge pers. comm.).

An unnamed subspecies of L. hirsutus from the Tanami Desert on the Australian mainland is now limited to captive colonies and as experimental reintroduction/translocation programs (Maxwell et al. 1996). This undescribed subspecies was once widespread in central Australian deserts. Captive colonies of this subspecies exist in Dryandra Conservation Reserve (south-east of Perth) and at Shark Bay. There is also a colony on Trimouille Island (520 hectares), Western Australia as a consequence of a translocation from the Tanami Desert to that site in 1998; the subspecies now ranges throughout the island (Langford and Burbidge 2001; Johnson and Burbidge 2008).
Countries:
Native:
Australia
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: There are no recent population estimates for Dorre and Bernier Islands. There were estimated to collectively hold 4,300 - 6,700 animals prior to 1994 (Richards 2005). Populations on these islands fluctuate with environmental conditions (Johnson and Burbidge 2008).

The translocated population on Trimouille Island began as 30 individuals in 1998, and were last estimated to number more than 120 (although this estimate was made not from trap data, but from tracks and droppings) (Richards 2005).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The mainland habitat was mainly in spinifex (Triodia spp.) hummock grasslands of the central deserts (Northern Territory, Western Australia, and South Australia). Tanami Desert colonies formerly associated with saline palaeo-drainage system, sand dunes, and tight fire patterns. Large areas of spinifex desert appear suitable provided that exotic predators and rabbits are at low densities or controlled and fire is properly managed (Maxwell et al. 1996).

The species typically carries a single young, usually two per year, with a pouch life of approximately four months (J. Richards pers. comm.). The species can survive up to five years in captivity (Langford and Burbidge 2001).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species declined on the mainland through habitat alteration due to rabbits, grazing and frequent and extensive wildfire. Predation by cats and foxes has acted to drive remnant populations to extinction. Island populations have a limited distribution and are threatened by the potential introduction of predators.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The Rufous Hare-wallaby is listed both country-wide and in the Northern Territory.
Australia: Endangered (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999).
Northern Territory: Extinct in the Wild. (Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 2000).
This species is listed on Appendix I of CITES.

There have been a couple of Recovery Plans for this species (Lundie-Jenkins 1995; Langford 1999), as well as an update (Richards 2005). Specific objectives for the recovery of the species within the 2005-2010 period come directly from Richards (2005), and include:

1. Protect the wild Bernier and Dorre Island populations and their habitat;
2. Maintain captive breeding populations;
3. Maintain the introduced Trimouille Island population;
4. Reintroduce to mainland and island sites;
5. Conduct a population viability analysis of wild and reintroduced populations;
6. Research taxonomic status and genetic structure;
7. Enhance community participation and education; and
8. Secure ongoing funding for the implementation of the Recovery Plan.

The primary success of these will depend, in part, on preventing introduced predators from disrupting reintroduced populations and the prevention of large fires in areas where this species is present because they have the potential to destroy whole populations (Richards 2005).
Citation: Richards, J., Morris, K., Friend, T. & Burbidge, A. 2008. Lagorchestes hirsutus. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 21 April 2014.
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