Nature in Focus: Australia’s endangered species
In this week’s Nature in Focus we continue our tour of the Southern Hemisphere, as we check in on three of Australia’s endangered species.
Australia, which is just a little smaller than the continental United States (at roughly 7.67 million km²) is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes, iconic cultural resources, and has some of the world’s most exotic flora and fauna.
Unfortunately, due to habitat fragmentation, severe changes to fire regimes caused be climate change, unsustainable natural resource management, invasive species, and all-around habitat loss due to urbanization; Australia’s biodiversity is in decline. Some of the more interesting animals that are dealing with these dangers and facing an up-hill battle are the subject of this week’s post.
The Tasmanian Devil isn’t just a once-popular Looney Tune cartoon character spinning up mayhem everywhere, but rather a species that is experiencing a significant decline.
A member of the Marsupial family, the Tasmanian Devil is a carnivorous nocturnal predator that is facing tough times. The Tasmanian Devil once thrived on mainland Australia, but due to disease (Devil Facial Tumor Disease), the Dingo, Red Fox, and hunting pressures back in the early 1900s, the Tasmanian Devil was upgraded from Threatened to Endangered in 2008 by the Australian Government. The only place where this elusive little beast can be found nowadays is on the island of Tasmania.
The Swift Parrot is currently listed as Endangered by the Australian government and many biologists fear that the Swift Parrot could become extinct within the next decade.
The Swift Parrot is 1 of 3 migratory parrots that inhabit Australia. The Swift Parrot winters on mainland Australia and breeds on the island of Tasmania. Deforestation, logging, and urban development are the most agreed upon sources for its troubled times. To make matters worse, new research suggests that Sugar Gliders are now a significant source of predation on these little birds, as it has been revealed that they (Sugar Gliders) are eating eggs, nesting birds, and baby Swift Parrots.
The Malleefowl is a large ground-dwelling ‘chicken-like’ bird that has been devastated by vegetation clearing and habitat fragmentation. As such, it has been listed as Vulnerable.
As 1 of 3 birds classified as a mound builder, the Malleefowl spends its time building an egg incubator with sand (literally a mound of sand). As monogamous maters, these beautiful birds mate for life with their partners. During hot months, the Malleefowl will push and spread the sand around on the ground to thermoregulate the sand to keep the mound and the eggs at optimal temperatures. Once the eggs hatch, the newly arrived Malleefowl is born with the ability to walk and hunt for food immediately; usually being able to fly within 24 hours.
If this post has inspired you to do more then take a look at our most popular Australian wildlife volunteering project Conserving Australia’s Native Species.