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6 October 2004
What is Jim's last chance to save the rock wallabies?
JONICA NEWBY: The captive breeding program was in tatters. It was too risky to bring in the few remaining wild rockies.
But Jim knew of one last chance.
Remarkably, it wasn't even in Australia. It was far across the ocean . . tiny Kawau Island in New Zealand.
This is a race against time
JONICA NEWBY: We're in New Zealand, on the ground with Jim Reside and his team, as they embark on a nerve-wracking quest: find and bring back to Australia the rare, elusive brush tailed rock wallaby.
But time is desperately short.
Here, wallabies are pests. They're all about to be poisoned.
For Jim, 13 years of a personally painful struggle to save this species from extinction has come down to this one crucial fortnight.
Can he bring the wallabies home?
JIM RESIDE: this is the last island that is hosting brush tailed rock wallabies. This is it we can't get them out. They're probably lost to us. We have to do it now if we're going to succeed.
JONICA NEWBY: 150 years ago the then Governor of New Zealand brought 5 different species of wallaby here for his private zoo.
But today, local landowners like Ray Weaver, say the wallabies are destroying the island.
Ray predicts the ravaging wallabies will eventually wipe out all the remaining native forest.
RAY WEAVER: Without intervention the present native trees on the island are the last generation.
RAY WEAVER: The whole island will be like this unless the wallabies are totally removed.
JONICA NEWBY: So Ray has set a deadline for the capture and removal of wallabies from Kawau. After that a poisoning campaign will begin.
The pressure is now on Jim and his team. They have only two weeks on Kawau to trap as many Rockies as they can.
The first of twenty traps immediately looks promising.
JIM RESIDE: It's closed too, so it looks like we've caught something.
It's a rocky, we've got one, let's go. Oh he's beautiful, big too, look, just have a look.
JONICA NEWBY: Look at him.
JIM RESIDE: Oh, he's beautiful, it's a boy.
JONICA NEWBY: Boy, we've got a boy.
JIM RESIDE: An adult male too, and he's just beautiful, look at that face.
JONICA NEWBY: Look at that face.
JIM RESIDE: Oh he's just lovely, oh it's so exciting, righto we've got to get him in the bag, ready, he's done, he's bagged. Fantastic!! We got one.
And the good news is that after Jonica's visit, the Kawau islanders extended their deadline. Jim and his team have now managed to catch 25 brush tailed rock wallaby. They've all made the journey home safely and are doing well at a specially built Quarantine reserve near Sydney.