December 11 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, October 24, 2013
I am a zoologist and give ecology advice to Highgate cemetery. I am almost certain that the wallaby is a Bennett’s Wallaby - Macropus rufogriseus rufogriseus - which comes from Tasmania.
This species of wallaby has been living wild in the UK for over 60 years, originally escapees from zoos and wildlife collections.
There was a population living in the Peak district for over half a century, enduring the worst of British weather.
Though this colony may now have gone, today there are many parts of the UK where these wallabies can be found living in the wild - and not causing any ecological problems.
Their Tasmaninan ancestry means that they are hardy and can survive outside in all weathers, find food and cope with predators like foxes.
They probably have similar dietary requirements to small deer or rabbits, grazing and browsing grass and other vegetation.
Highgate Cemetery is a mysterious and wonderful place.
It already has many non-native species, including all sorts of insects and arachnids, grey squirrels, ring-necked parakeets, the occasional muntjak deer.
So maybe the odd wallaby isn’t such a bizarre notion?
Its enclosed fifteen acres provides an ideal environment for these marsupials that raise their young in their mother’s pouch for most of their first year.
People who have seen the wallaby have been thrilled and I think we should leave it alone and enjoy the occasional glimpse of such an enigmatic and beautiful creature.