The great Australian Outback. Vast, untouched and teeming with unique wildlife. Well, that’s how it used to be. Charles Darwin University Adjunct Professor John Woinarski has discovered a very different, very alarming Australia.
Even in the most far-flung corners of this continent, our precious wildlife is disappearing. The shameful fact is Australia has one of the worst extinction records of any country in the world, particularly for mammal species.
Along with many species of bandicoots, possums and bettongs, the northern quoll has thrived for tens of thousands to millions of years in Northern Australia, surviving ice ages, surging sea levels and human hunters.
But many of these native mammals are unlikely to survive another decade or two, according to a new report that reveals an abrupt, stunning plunge towards mass extinction in the past few years.
The report, Into Oblivion: The disappearing native mammals of northern Australia, produced for the environment group.
The Nature Conservancy, collates many lines of evidence into the status of this region’s biodiversity, including one of the most comprehensive wildlife monitoring studies undertaken in the region.
“Twenty years ago we would go out into the bush and it would be a bonanza of native animals,’’ report co-author and internationally recognised biodiversity researcher Professor John Woinarski said. “Now, in most places, we catch nothing – it’s silent.’’
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The report, Into Oblivion: The disappearing native mammals of northern Australia, is available at W: www.nature.org/wherewework/asiapacifi c/australia/fi les/ausmammals.pdf.