Australia: A New Initiative to Save Native Wildlife

A new initiative introduced in Australia aims to reduce the pressures of feral and invasive animals on native wildlife.

Australia has existed largely in isolation for thousands of years and contains a plethora of endemic species. In fact, 45% of its birds and 80% of mammals found in Australia are found nowhere else in the world. However, feral cats pose a tremendous threat to the diverse wildlife found here. That is why Australia has announced an initiative to remove two million feral cats by 2020.  

Cats first arrived in Australia sometime during the 1600s but today their population numbers have reached astronomical heights as they are projected to cover approximately 99.8% of the country.  

There are innumerable bird, reptile, and mammal species that stand to benefit from the decreased stress on their environment this initiative would provide. For example, the Burrowing Bettong, a marsupial native to Australia, now only exists on off-lying islands due to the increased pressure posed by feral and invasive animals and with this new initiative, stands a chance at making a comeback.

The rare Burrowing Bettong. Credit: CNN

Former Conservation Minister Maggie Barry has also called for pet owners in Australia to limit cats to only one to two per household. This is also just one of the many reasons it is important to keep pet cats indoors rather than allowing them to roam freely. The plan provides hope for native wildlife. On Omaui, a small coastal town in New Zealand, they considered banning adoption and bringing of domestic cats to the area, though they have since halted their plans. Omaui Landcare Charitable Trust chairman John Collins said of the plan:  

We want our environment to be wildlife-rich.” 

And as Gregory Andrews says of the cull in Australia:

We have got to make choices to save animals that we love, and who define us as a nation.”

The future of Australia’s native flora and fauna is bright thanks to this ambitious new endeavor.  

Source: CNN
Featured Photo: Sunrise in Northern Territory, Australia. Credit: Mark Wassell

About Stephanie Dittrich

Stephanie Dittrich is a current senior in Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz and a transfer student from De Anza College. She is also currently pursuing a Certificate of Achievement in Geospatial Technologies and a second Associates Degree in Graphic Design from Foothill College. She has worked in multiple marketing and design focused roles at environmental nonprofits as well as the Genomics Institute at UC Santa Cruz. She just finished spending 3 months in Costa Rica conducting field work where she did an independent research project and wrote a scientific paper about flight response time in the Morpho peleides butterfly. In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys working on creative photography and design projects, often centered around wildlife photography, as well as more experimental and contemporary subject matter.

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