Rufous hare-wallaby

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Rufous hare-wallaby[1]
Rufous hare wallaby.jpg
Mammals of Australia, Vol. II Plate 57
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Infraclass: Marsupialia
Order: Diprotodontia
Family: Macropodidae
Genus: Lagorchestes
Species: L. hirsutus
Binomial name
Lagorchestes hirsutus
Gould, 1844
Rufous Hare Wallaby area.png
Rufous hare-wallaby range
(blue — native, red — introduced)

The rufous hare-wallaby (Lagorchestes hirsutus), also known as the mala, is a small macropod found in Australia. It was formerly widely distributed across the western half of the continent but is now confined to Bernier Island and Dorre Island Islands off Western Australia.[3] It is currently classified as vulnerable.[2]

The rufous hare-wallaby has rufous-grey fur and is the smallest hare-wallaby. It is a solitary nocturnal herbivore that feeds on herbs, leaves and seeds. It is currently being reintroduced to mainland Australia, notably in the Tanami Desert in the Northern Territory.[3]

The species was first described by John Gould (1844) in The Mammals of Australia.

Four distinct subpopulations of this species have been described as subspecies, especially with regard to their conservation status. Estimates of these island colonies numbers were between 4,300 and 6,700 in 1994, the environmental conditions cause fluctuations in the total number of animals.

Two possible subspecies are found in range restricted to islands near Western Australia.

  • Lagorchestes hirsutus bernieri is only found at Bernier Island. This name has priority if not distinct from subspecies:
  • Lagorchestes hirsutus dorreae is only found at Dorre Island.

The fourth is an unnamed subspecies that has been conserved by relocation.

  • Lagorchestes hirsutus ssp. was originally discovered in the Tanami Desert, and was once widespread across the arid centre of Australia. The only existing members of this group have been translocated to several sites in Western Australia as captive colonies. These are at the Dryandra Conservation Reserve, Shark Bay and Trimouille Island. The colony on the latter is estimated to be over 100 individuals.[2]

Significance in Anangu (aboriginal) culture[edit]

For the Anangu, or Aboriginal people, the Mala or 'hare wallaby people' are important ancestral beings. For tens of thousands of years, the Mala have watched over them from rocks and caves and walls, guiding them on their relationships with people, plants and animals, rules for living and caring for country. Mala Tjukurpa, the Mala Law, is central to their living culture and celebrated in story, song, dance and ceremony.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Groves, C. P. (2005). Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M, eds. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 63. OCLC 62265494. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. 
  2. ^ a b c d Richards, J., Morris, K., Friend, T. & Burbidge, A. (2008). Lagorchestes hirsutus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 28 December 2008. Database entry includes justification for why this species is listed as vulnerable
  3. ^ a b Menkhorst, Peter (2001). A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia. Oxford University Press. p. 108. 
  4. ^ Mala Reintroduction Factsheet. environment.gov.au

External links[edit]