Home' The Canberra Times : Chronicle 10.01.12 Contents THE CHRONICLE, Tuesday, January 10 2012 - 4
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Job with native wallabies rocks
Southern brush-tailed rock-wallaby project officer Ani Kunz and Dr Tim Portas perform a routine check on a
wallaby and her joey.
Picture: Rohan Thomson
ANI Kunz has a hands-on role in
protecting threatened native Australian
As the southern brush-tailed rock-
wallaby project officer at Tidbinbilla
Nature Reserve, Ms Kunz is working
to increase the number of the critically
"There's estimated to be only 40 left
in the wild," Ms Kunz said.
More than 70 per cent of the captive
population of southern brush-tailed
rock-wallaby are at Tidbinbilla and
staff are breeding them as quickly as
possible to release them back into the
Last year a record 14 joeys were
born into the program, up from 10
joeys in 2010.
Ms Kunz was hopeful the trend
There are 23 rock-wallabies at
Tidbinbilla and it is Ms Kunz's role to
help feed and clean them.
She also has to regularly trap, catch
and handle the animals to check their
pouches for joeys.
"We do a lot of match making,'' Ms
Kunz said. ''We've got to put different
boys and girls together to get compat-
Most of the rock-wallabies in the
program are released in The Gram-
pians National Park in Victoria as part
of a national recovery breeding
program being undertaken between
"We make a selection based on their
genetic profile. We have to keep some
for captivity for future breeding and
then we release the rest," Ms Kunz
Rock-wallabies that stay in the
program for breeding undergo regular
checks to ensure they are healthy
enough to breed. Checks are carried
out on the wallabies' feet, tails, teeth,
eyes, ears and heart rate.
Joeys are also checked and
measured. When they are four to six
weeks old the southern brush-tailed
rock-wallaby joeys are cross-fostered
out to another species of wallabies.
"We take the joey out of the
endangered wallaby and give it to a
foster mum to raise," Ms Kunz said.
This accelerated the breeding
program and allowed the rock-
wallabies to breed more quickly. Ms
Kunz said she had always wanted to
work outdoors in the environ-
ment and used to volunteer at
Tidbinbilla before accepting
the permanent position. "I love
my job; it's hard work but it's
so rewarding," she said.
The southern brush-tailed rock-
wallaby project is one of three
threatened species breeding programs
run at Tidbinbilla.
Ms Kunz also works with the
northern corroboree frog and eastern
"Captive threatened species breed-
ing programs are really important
because without them we stand to lose
a lot of our native wildlife and at least
this way we're trying to do something
about it," she said.
"Tidbinbilla has a very big threaten-
ed species focus -- we're trying to do as
much as we can."
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