1,500 animals and plants threatened with extinction in Australia

February 19th, 2009 - 2:37 pm ICT by ANI  

Canberra, Feb 19 (ANI): Scientists have said that Australia is on the verge of a wave of extinction of species, with over 1,500 animals and plants reportedly threatened with a wipe out.

Australia has the worst mammal extinction record in the world, with 22 mammals becoming extinct in the last 200 years.

Now, according to a report carried out in news.com.au, evidence suggests Australia is on the cusp of another wave.

Over 40 scientists and land managers met in Darwin last week for a two-day meeting to discuss their research into critical regional extinctions across the countrys north.

What we are seeing is a reduction both in the abundance of mammals but also for some species really catastrophic declines across their range, said Sarah Legge, from the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.

Theyve shrunk down to 10 per cent of their former distribution (and) the frightening thing about it is the rate at which its happening, she added.

Some species have already disappeared from more than 90 per cent of their past range across the north, she further added.

According to Dr Legge, about 1500 animals and plants were currently threatened with extinction in Australia, and critical declines had been noted on pastoral and indigenous lands, as well as national parks.

Among the species at risk are the Northern Quoll, Golden Bandicoot and Bilby.

They are all declining, and doing so very rapidly. This is undoubtedly one of the major biodiversity conservation issues affecting Australia, said Dr Legge.

It would be heart-breaking and internationally embarrassing if we were to stand aside and witness another wave of extinctions, she added.

Its clear that in Kakadu, as in Litchfield, as in Arnhem Land generally that populations of many of these mammals are declining catastrophically, said NT government scientist John Woinarski.

The comparatively pristine environments of the NT - home to the largest remaining tropical savanna on Earth - had given governments cause for complacency, said Dr Woinarksi, who warned that lessons needed to be learnt from the history of mammals in central Australia.

A hundreds years ago there were 20 species of native mammals that arent there now. Twenty species have become extinct in similarly remote and wild habitats, he said.

Dr Woinarski said scientists believed a cocktail of feral cat predation, inappropriate fire regimes and over-grazing was responsible for declines.

Its quite likely Australia will lose a large number of species and weve got to act soon, in the next year or so, said Dr Woinarski. (ANI)

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