Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Kalihi Wallaby

Two mature brush-tailed rock wallabies escaped August 20, 1916 from the home of Richard H Trent; they came from Australia for Trent's private zoo, which was “practically a public institution maintained at his personal, private expense for the public's pleasure.”

“Dogs frightened the two animals brought from Australia for Trent's private zoo and they jumped against their cage with enough force to break through it … A young one, thrown from its mother's pouch, was killed by the dogs, but the pair of old ones managed to get away and have not been seen since.”  (Star-Bulletin, August 21, 1916)

“Richard H. Trent, Honolulu's animal impresario, issues a call to all citizens of Oahu today to join in a mammoth, personally conducted wallaby hunt, the first of its kind ever held in the Hawaiian archipelago.”

“Two of the three small kangaroos … escaped from the Trent zoological garden on ʻAlewa Height Saturday night and at latest reports last night were roaming at will in the Oahu forests.”  (Hawaiian Gazette, August 22, 1916)

The paper had a premonition (or bachi;) “Unless the animals are caught they may become permanent denizens of the mountain districts and, like their distant cousins, the Australian rabbits, may propagate and produce eventually a breed of Hawaiian wallabies.” (Hawaiian Gazette, August 22, 1916)

The brush-tailed rock wallaby, native to Australia, was once common throughout that continent; now it’s confined to tiny parts of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. The Victoria population, in particular, is near extinction.

The shy animals have long, bushy tails and small ears; average-size adults weigh between 13 and 18-pounds. Its head and body measure just less than 2 feet long, and its tail is slightly longer. Its color is predominantly brown, with gray fur on its shoulders and reddish brown on its rump.

Richard Henderson Trent, born in Somerville, Fayette County, Tennessee, September 14, 1867, only attended public school until he was 12-years of age, and is a self-educated and self-made man.  He began his career in Hawaiʻi as a printer for the Evening Bulletin in 1901, having learned the newspaper trade in Tennessee.

He later affiliated with Henry Waterhouse Trust Co., Ltd., until 1904, then headed one of the largest trust companies in Hawaiʻi that beared his name.  He served as first treasurer of Oʻahu County from 1905 to 1910, being twice re-elected to this office.

Active in community welfare and church work, he served as president of the YMCA from 1908 to 1915 and was a member of the Territorial Board of Public Lands from 1910 to 1914.

Trent was a member of the Board of Regents, University of Hawaiʻi, for several years, as well as served as a trustee of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate and the Bishop Museum.

In 1928, while Trustee of the Kamehameha Schools (1917-1939,) a junior division was created for the Kamehameha School for Boys annual song contest; Trent donated the contest trophy.  The original school for boys contest cup, the George A Andrus cup, was designated as the trophy for the senior division winner and the Richard H Trent Cup for the junior division winner.

While the wallabies once roamed from Nuʻuanu to Hālawa, they are now known to live in only one valley, the ʻEwa side of Kalihi Valley, which has a series of sheer cliffs and narrow rocky ledges.  (earlham-edu)

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DLNR-DOFAW) no longer keeps track of the population, since they believe the animals are nonthreatening.

Wallabies are designated as protected game mammals by DLNR (§13-123-12,) which means no hunting, killing or possessing, unless authorized.  (The same rule applies to wild cattle.) In 2002, a wallaby was captured in Foster Village; DLNR released it back into Kalihi Valley.

The last state survey of Kalihi wallabies was in the early-1990s; at the time, the estimated population was as high as 75-animals.

The image shows a brush-tailed rock wallaby (kristoforG.)  In addition, I have added other related images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.

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