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The Tammar Wallaby was formerly widespread in south-western Western Australia and on the Eyre, Yorke and Fleurieu Peninsulas of South Australia. The South Australian and Western Australian populations have probably been isolated from each other for 50,000-100,000 years. Robust populations remain on the Houtman Abrolhos, Garden Island, Greenly Island and Kangaroo Island. Remnant mainland populations are generally small and isolated, due to predation by foxes: the species is known to occur at nine sites in mainland Western Australia and one site in South Australia.
The Tammar Wallaby is a small, thickly furred wallaby with predominantly dark, grey-brown pelage. Animals, especially males, usually have rufous on the sides of their bodies and on their limbs. The forearms are held apart, especially when hopping. Tammar Wallabies are quite vocal, with hoarse coughs being used defensively and clucking noises being made by courting males. As with many kangaroo species, alarm is also communicated through foot stamps.
The Tammar Wallaby inhabits dense coastal heath and scrub, though some populations remain in dry sclerophyll forests that have dense understorey vegetation. Individuals are usually solitary and always nocturnal. Animals graze in grassy clearings that are adjacent to cover, to which they flee if alarmed. The Tammar Wallaby has become a model species for the study of the hormonal regulation of reproduction. Consequently, there is a wealth of information about its reproductive system, including seasonal breeding and pregnancy, sex differentiation, the development of pouch young and control of lactation.
The Tammar Wallaby is threatened by predation by introduced predators (foxes and cats); populations are only abundant in locations where foxes are controlled or absent. Clearing for agriculture has caused extensive loss of habitat in the past. Some populations are subject to persecution as an agricultural pest.
AWC has reintroduced Tammar Wallabies to a feral predator free enclosure at Karakamia Wildlife Sanctuary and to a partly fenced area on Paruna Sanctuary, Western Australia. AWC ecologists monitor these populations through a combination of trapping, spotlighting and cameras. These studies have shown the population on Karakamia is increasing and the population on Paruna is stable.
In the 1860s, the Governor of South Australia, George Grey, took up a post in New Zealand. He took some Tammar Wallabies with him and introduced them to Kawau Island. The animals became so abundant they were considered a pest. Meanwhile, the South Australian sub-population (M. eugenii eugenii) became extinct on the mainland. Tammars from New Zealand were reintroduced to South Australia in 2003 and have subsequently been reintroduced to Innes National Park on the Yorke Peninsula.