Caught on the hop by albino wallaroos living at Mount Panorama

RARE BIRD: A family of rare albino wallaroos is living in the vacinity of Mount Panorama and resdidents want to see them protected.
Photo: Tim Bergen

RARE BIRD: A family of rare albino wallaroos is living in the vacinity of Mount Panorama and resdidents want to see them protected. Photo: Tim Bergen

SCIENTISTS involved in a kangaroo research project on Mount Panorama have identified a family of rare albino wallaroos living in the precinct.

The University of Technology (UTS), Sydney-led research program is using non-invasive scientific methods to determine the number of kangaroos living on the Mount.

It was launched in response to annual calls for a kangaroo cull ahead of the Bathurst 1000 to ensure driver safety during the Great Race.

But the scientsts had an unexpected surprise with confirmation of a family or albino wallaroos.

It was actually Bathurst councillor Jess Jennings who first brought the wallaroos to the project team's attention after spotting them while running in a public reserve on the mount.

He snapped a photograph on his phone before Bathurst wildlife photographer Tim Bergen was able to capture clearer images.

Mr Bergen's photographs were then forwarded to UTS's macropod scientist Dr Daniel Ramp for confirmation.

"I'd previously heard about the albino wallaroos, so when I was asked if I could get clear photos I was happy to oblige and learn more about these special animals," Mr Bergen said.

"The wallaroo shape is very distinctive and their yellow tails normally indicate female wallaroos. It was a thrill to find that the albino wallaroo mother seems to have an older albino daughter and a younger non-albino female joey.

"I've since learned that there are different types of albinism determined by which genes are affected, and the animals' yellow tails might also be a clue to the type of albinism they have."

Dr Ramp, who is leading the UTS kangaroo research program in Bathurst, had spotted a white wallaroo on an initial visit to the mount earlier this year and was keen to get a clearer look.

"Albinism in wildlife is rare. Just a handful of wild albino macropods are mentioned in the scientific literature and public press, although zoos breed them as attractions," he said.

"Because albino genes are recessive and rare, in humans the chance of both parents carrying the albino gene and having an albino offspring is one-in-20,000.

"For the female wallaroo to have an albino offspring, she must have mated with a male also carrying the recessive gene."

Dr Ramp said poor eyesight and an inability to hide from predators meant albino animals usually did not survive long on the wild, though the family of wallaroos appears quite healthy. 

He said some residents had known of the wallaroos for some time and wanted to see them protected.

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