Antilopine Kangaroos / Wallaroos Osphranter (Macropus) antilopinus are large, graceful kangaroos of the tropical savannahs of Northern Australia.
They replace the Red Kangaroo north of about 19 S latitude and are similar in colour and behaviour. They overlap a little with Eastern Grey Kangaroos in coastal northern Queensland.
Antilopine Kangaroos are some of the most social of Australian macropods: groups of 3 to 8 are normal and larger groups are seen at times. Adults groom each other at any time of year, not only as part of a mating ritual – which is rarely seen in other kangaroo species.
Their numbers are decreasing (1), and they are vulnerable to climate change. Until Euan Ritchie’s PhD in 2007 (2) there were very few scientific publications on any aspect of the Antilopine Wallaroo. They remain one of the least-studied of Australian kangaroos.
They can be hard to identify from Euro / Common Wallaroo and Black Wallaroo at times, so we have prepared this informative guide.
Antilopine Wallaroos have a distinctive head shape. Males, in particular, get a swollen look to the muzzle between the nose and the eyes, which gives them a rounded (mule-like) profile, and bullish look front-on.
It is not just an illusion – Antilopines have a very large bulbous nose which assists with heat loss (3).
Females also have this swollen nose feature, but it is less prominent.
The nose area is bare of fur. The muzzle is dark: black or grey, which compared to the white face gives them a big-nosed look.
The eyes can be heavy-lidded, and appear squinty. They often have white above and below the eyes, making the eyes, when wide open, seem very black in a pale face.
The fur is slightly longer than in a Red Kangaroo, but not as shaggy as a Common Wallaroo (Euro). Males have beautiful reddish fur on their backs, with contrasting white legs and belly. Females range from all over grey-tan, to grey with a golden tinge and white belly & legs.
Antilopine Kangaroos are one of our favourite sightings in the Top End of the Northern Territory.
NOTES & REFERENCES:
Rootourism Fact Sheet: http://www.rootourism.com/fsheet16.htm
(1) IUCN Red List: https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/40561/21953729
(2) Ritchie, Euan (2007) The ecology and conservation of the antilopine wallaroo (Macropus antilopinus). PhD thesis, James Cook University. https://researchonline.jcu.edu.au/4777/
(3) Wadley, J.J.; Fordham, D.A.; Thomson, V.A.; Ritchie, E.G.; Austin, J.J. (November 2016). “Phylogeography of the antilopine wallaroo (Macropus antilopinus) across tropical northern Australia”. Ecology and Evolution. 6 (22): 8050–8061 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5108257/#ece32381-bib-0037