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Banded hare-wallaby
The Banded Hare-wallaby is extinct on the mainland but secure populations are found on offshore islands in Western Australia. The latter are being used to re-introduce the species into former habitat is south-western WA (Image: © Jiri Lochman/ Lochman Transparencies)
Habitat map of Shark Bay region
Habitat map of Shark Bay showing Bernier Island to the north-west. (Image: www.sharkbay.org)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

General information

Kangaroos are marsupials and belong to the Family Macropodidae (i.e. big feet) that is grouped with the Potoroidae (potoroos, bettongs, rat-kangaroos) and Hypsiprymnodontidae (musky rat-kangaroo) in the Super-Family, Macropodoidea. This comprises around 50 species in Australia and a dozen or more in New Guinea.  Some of the smaller species, such as Yellow-footed Rock-Wallabies, Burrowing Bettongs, accompanied Pig-footed and Golden Bandicoots, Bilbies and possibly Hairy-nosed Wombats into extinction with the advent of pastoralism. However, the largest species remain in much of their original range with the grey kangaroos expanding inland as grazing habitat increased and coastal habitat was lost in clearance for agriculture. The defining feature of the kangaroo family is that they are the largest vertebrates to hop (both currently and from what we know from palaeontology).

 

Two of the four species of Hare-wallabies that were identified at European colonisation of Australia are extinct. The only species which retains a broad geographic range is the Spectacled Hare-wallaby which also has a small population is southern New Guinea. The genus was once common in the deserts and tropics and south-west of Western Australia. Pastoralism and the introduction of livestock grazing and concomitant changes in fire management and release of rabbits, foxes and cats have wrought a devastating impacts on the attractive small wallabies. A characteristic, emphasised in the Spectacled Hare-wallaby, is the rufous fur around the eye. The Hare-wallabies have long feet with long claws but the fore-limbs are very delicate and short.

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Species

Banded Hare-wallaby

Lagostrophus fasciatus fasciatus ('hare twist/turn bundle')

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Best place to see

Bernier Island, Western Australia

Bernier and nearby Dorre Island are part of the World Heritage area of Shark Bay. Bernier Island was named after Pierre Francois Bernier, an astronomer on the Geographe expedition of 1801 by the French. The island is a nature reserve and only accessible by boat. Visitors cannot stay on the island but can make a day visit. Open fires and pets are not permitted.  Access is from Denham, 340 km from Carnarvon and 410 km from Geraldton. Commercial flights operate to Shark Bay and airfare and accommodation packages are available.

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Identification

The Banded Hare-wallaby is the sole member of its genus and is thought to be the sole surviving species of the Sthenuridae which numbered 20 species in the Pleistocene. The taxonomic position is debated and it remains in the Macropodidae in recent accounts. Like the Rufous Hare-wallaby to which it is very distantly related, females are larger than males as females reach 3 kg but males only 2.5 kg. The overall colouration is dark grizzled grey-brown on the back  with distinctive dark and light bands on the rump crossed by a dark back stripe. The fur is thick and soft and is a complex of underfur, coarse hair and long isolated guard hairs. The hair on the face, ears and fore-limbs is short and grizzled grey. The abdomen is a mix of grey and white and the arms and legs have a reddish tinge. The tail is covered in short yellow-grey hair but there are long black hairs on the tip.

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Habitat

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Foraging behaviour

 

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Reproductive behaviour

 

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Social organisation

 

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Further readings

Richards JD, Short J, Prince RIT, Friend JA, Courtenay JM (2001) The biology of banded (Lagostrophus fasciatus) and rufous (Lagorchestes hirsutus) hare-wallabies (Diprotodontia: Macropodidae) on Dorre and Bernier Islands, Western Australia. Wildlife Research 28, 311-322.

Short J, Turner B (1992) The distribution and abundance of rufous hare-wallabies, Lagostrophus fasciatus and Lagorchestes hirsutus. Biological Conservation 60, 157-166.

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