Time is running out to save a little kangaroo species from Australia's central desert region currently on the brink of extinction, conservationists say.
Traditional owners and conservationists in Australia's red centre are urgently working to save the Northern Territory's endangered malas from becoming extinct.
The little Central Australian kangaroo holds great cultural significance to the Warlpiri people, and indigenous rangers are helping to capture about 20 and relocate them on a 150 hectare enclosure to protect them against feral predators.
The native mammals, measuring 40cm and weighing up to 1.5kg, are extinct in the wild, however, there are a number of semi-wild populations in fenced exclosures.
On Wednesday, the animals will be taken from Watarrka National Park to the enclosure at Newhaven Station, owned by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.
AWC is building a $10 million cat-proof fence to exclude predators from a 9000 ha bushland haven in the hopes of boosting mala numbers by over 400 per cent.
But that's not due to be completed until 2019 and conservationists say efforts to protect the creatures need to be fast-tracked following a devastating 2013 wildfire that significantly reduced the captive population at Watarrka National Park.
"Sadly, the population has continued to decrease and the decision has been made by the Mala National Recovery Team to urgently relocate the mala to Newhaven Station where they will have a better chance of survival and population recovery," Department of Environment and Natural Resources species conservation director Dr Simon Ward said.
"It is important to relocate the mala now before the start of summer when the fire risk is further increased and when high temperatures make capture and transport of mala more stressful."
Central Australian Parks director Chris Day says it will be a bittersweet moment for his staff to bid goodbye to the animals.
"The mala will be missed, but we know they are going to be in good hands at Newhaven with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, supported by the great work the Warlpiri rangers carry out (by) removing predators and looking after country," he said.