Animals Go Wild! The wallabies of Kalihi Valley

Ron Walker
Ron Walker
Kalihi Valley
Kalihi Valley

KALIHI (KHNL) - They're native to Australia, but the brush-tailed rock wallaby has established itself, right here on Oahu. It is a small, but nonetheless established colony, in Kalihi Valley.

Once inhabiting an area from Nuuanu to Halawa Valley, the wallabies are now believed to exist only in one small area within Kalihi Valley. The big question surrounding the elusive animal is: just how many of them are up there?

"There was less than 40 one time, then a little bit later like in 1986, so I would say that estimate is as good now as it was then" said retired state wildlife manager Ron Walker.

Walker studied the wallabies for years, and he knows their history. Three of them were brought here to a private zoo in 1916, but neighborhood dogs attacked. The youngest wallaby was killed. The remaining male and female escaped into the wild, and then nature took its course.

"The state at that point in time said it's not going to be a pest. It's herbivorous; it eats mostly Christmas berries and other non-native plants."

To this day the state has no official management plan for the mini-marsupials, which stand about knee-high, and weigh no more than 10-15 pounds. But because they are considered threatened in Australia, and there is such great interest in the animals, they are off limits to hunters.

And if you plan to go in search of the elusive wallaby yourself like so many others have?

"Good luck. It's on private property and it's up above the military base so you have to gain access from the landowners" said Walker.

And even if you were granted access, Walker says the odds of a sighting a wallaby are pretty much slim to none. In fact, there's been no documented wallaby sighting since 1990. But, Walker remains positive they're out there.

"Oh, I'm sure they are. They have all the food in the world. The only problem they have is with wild dogs. There's a pack of wild dogs that roams that area. Sometimes hunters have been known to shoot them. Why? I don't know. It's a cool story."