Photo: Wildlife authorities are pleased with the number of joeys found in the park. (Supplied: Department of Parks and Wildlife)
For decades it was thought the black-flanked rock wallaby was extinct in the Kalbarri National Park — driven out by feral pests and predators.But the endangered species is staging a comeback so strong authorities say it could become a regular sight in the park's network of remote gorges in WA's Mid West.
The animal's resurgence started in 2015, after a pair of the black-flanked rock wallabies and their joey were spotted perched on a rocky outcrop by rock climbers.
In May of last year, with funding from the World Wildlife Foundation, 23 wallabies from bigger populations in the Wheatbelt were introduced to the area.
Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) conservation leader Anthony Desmond said the Kalbarri population had since risen significantly.
"We'd be expecting upwards of 80 animals now," he said.
"Most of the animals that went in last time have reproduced at least once."Another 24 of the animals were taken from the Wheatbelt and introduced to the park last month and Mr Desmond said the area was on track to becoming the state's most significant site for the marsupials.
"I predict we'll see large numbers of animals in Kalbarri in the next five years, that will have a really good mix of genetics and we can continue to monitor that through the years."
Mr Desmond said considerable work had been undertaken to preserve the distinctness of the genes of the original wallabies.
Photo: DPaW staff carry out surveys of the black-flanked rock wallabies in the national park. (Supplied: Department of Parks and Wildlife)
Droppings hold important genetic keyPrior to the first introduction of the Wheatbelt species, DPaW spent months analysing droppings of the Kalbarri female, but only recently have been able to track and take genetic samples from the elusive male.
Mr Desmond said the latest development was important in efforts to preserve the distinctiveness of the original wallabies' genes.
"That makes a big difference. You're 100 per cent solid in your genetic testing," he said.
"You've got some good data, so as we catch the new young ones that are appearing in the population we'll be able to see how much of those genetics are flowing down."
WWF Australia's Merril Halley said a joey from the first relocation had recently been spotted and photographed.
"The fact that this female has bred just one year after arriving in the new territory bodes really well for the future survival of the species in the Kalbarri National Park," she said.