AUSTRALIA’S MOST ENDANGERED ANIMAL SPECIES

by Editor on April 26, 2011

The Tasmanian Devil Is Listed As Endangered In Australia. Photo:Wayne McLean

Many Species Of Animals In Australia Are Endangered And Threatened With Extinction

Australia’s wildlife evolved in insular isolation for hundreds of thousands of years, a circumstance that resulted in a rich array of animals unlike those anywhere else on earth. This unique and highly unusual set of species began coming under intense pressure immediately after the arrival of the first aboriginal people, who not only hunted many of the larger creatures to extinction, but also introduced dogs to the continent—the ancestors of the dingoes, which went feral and began competing with the continent’s native predators. With the advent of Europeans tens of thousands of years after the first aboriginals reached Australian shores, threats to native wildlife increased geometrically, due in many cases to the introduction of many more species from Europe and elsewhere that were able to either eat or outcompete the native animals. These non-native competitors include foxes, domestic cats, and rabbits.

Currently, there are 444 species of fishes, frogs, reptiles, birds, mammals, and other animals on Australia’s Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act List of Threatened Fauna. Classifications on the list include Extinct, Extinct in the Wild, Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, and Conservation Dependent. Australian animal species that still exist, but which are in the greatest danger of becoming extinct in the wild, are listed as Critically Endangered.

Critically endangered animal species on the EPBC Act List include 4 fishes, 2 frogs, 4 reptiles, 6 birds, 4 mammals, and 20 other animals.

Of the four critically endangered mammal species, three are bats: The southern bent-wing bat, the Christmas Island pipistrelle bat, and the bare-rumped sheathtail bat. The fourth critically endangered mammal is Gilbert’s potoroo. A potoroo is a rat-like marsupial; there are three species, and all are on the EPBCA list.

Australia’s critically endangered fish species are the grey nurse shark, the Western trout minnow, the speartooth shark, and the opal cling goby.

Critically endangered frogs in Australia are the armoured mist frog and the mountain mistfrog.

Australia’s critically endangered reptile species are the short-nosed seasnake, the leaf-scaled seasnake, the nangur spiny skink, and the Western swamp tortoise.

Bird species that are critically endangered in Australia are the scrubtit, the spotted quail-thrush, the yellow chat, the orange-bellied parrot, the Round Island petrel, and the herald petrel.

Many more species are listed as Endangered on the EPBC Act List, including more than 40 birds, 16 reptiles, 15 frogs, and 35 mammals. Among Australia’s endangered mammals are the tasmanian devil, the Northern hairy-nosed wombat, several species each of bandicoots, wallabies, and quolls, and two whale species: the blue whale and the Southern right whale.

In spite of declining numbers, Australia’s iconic koala “bear” does not have a place on the EPBC Act List. Conservation groups, including the Australian Koala Foundation, have been pressuring the Australian government to list the Koala as Vulnerable.

View the full EPBC Act List here.

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