Marvelous Macropus: Exploring the World of Kangaroo Island’s Western Grey Kangaroos

Kangaroo Island's Western Grey Kangaroo - a male

The Fascinating Life of Kangaroo Island’s Western Grey Kangaroos

On a large island off the coast of South Australia, early explorers found a large, heavily built, docile and slow moving kangaroo. They named the island Kangaroo Island.

Like the many other of the island’s indigenous wildlife, this kangaroo has no natural enemies and so became heavier and slower moving than it’s relatives on the mainland.

Kangaroo Island Western Grey Kangaroos are a subspecies of the Western Grey Kangaroo, technically known as Macropus fuliginosus fuliginosus. These kangaroos are indigenous to Kangaroo Island. They are also present on the Australian mainland, but the group on Kangaroo Island is Australia’s only pure and genetically diversified population.


Kangaroo Island’s Appearance Grey, Western Male kangaroos can stand up to 2 metres tall and weigh up to 70 kilogrammes, making them one of the largest kangaroo species. Females are shorter, standing at around 1.4 metres and weighing about 35 kilogrammes. They have thick, grey-brown fur that keeps them warm in the chilly environment of Kangaroo Island. Their faces have darker fur than the rest of their bodies, giving them a characteristic black-faced appearance.

These kangaroos live in a variety of habitats, ranging from coastal heathlands to forest settings. They love open spaces with water, grass, and shade. Grey Kangaroo Island Kangaroos are the only major herbivores on Kangaroo Island, which means they are critical to the island’s ecosystem.

Kangaroo Island Western Grey Behaviour Kangaroos are highly gregarious animals that live in mobs. Mobs are typically composed of females and their offspring, with one or two dominant males. Males will engage in combat with other males in order to gain dominance over the mob. These kangaroos are mostly active during the day, especially early in the morning and late in the afternoon. They eat grasses, herbs, and leaves and are herbivores.


The Western Grey Kangaroo population on Kangaroo Island was severely damaged by bushfires in 2019-2020, with an estimated 50% drop in population size. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classifies them as vulnerable, and the group on Kangaroo Island is Australia’s sole pure and genetically diversified population. Conservation initiatives, including as habitat restoration and predator control, are undertaken to safeguard and manage their population.

Kangaroo Island Western Grey Kangaroos interact with humans and are a great attraction for tourists visiting Kangaroo Island. However, keep in mind that they are wild animals and should be treated with care. Feeding or approaching kangaroos can be hazardous to both the animals and people. When witnessing or interacting with Kangaroo Island Western Grey Kangaroos, it is critical to respect local norms and restrictions.

Finally, Western Grey Kangaroos on Kangaroo Island are a distinct and fascinating subspecies of the Western Grey Kangaroo. They are critical to the survival of Kangaroo Island’s environment, and their conservation is critical to the preservation of Australia’s natural heritage.