The new study shows that more than 10% of the Australian species of land mammals have disappeared since the first European settlers arrived on the continent.
The results of the study point to two main culprits: the feral cat and fox, both species brought on the continent by the settlers who arrived from Europe.
Experts have always been puzzled by the alarming rate at which the Australian species of mammals are disappearing.
In other parts of the world, the extinction of many species is caused mainly by humans who have destroyed the animals’ natural habitat and have overhunted them to extinction.
However, in Australia, the reasons behind the disappearance of so many animals are not man-related.
According to the scientists, the isolated regions of Australia that have not been touched by humans should be a safe haven for animals. But that is not the case, experts say.
A team of researchers wanted to find out what caused the extinction of the Australian land and marine mammals since the first settlers from Europe started coming to the continent in 1788.
The research revealed that approximately 11% of the 273 Australian land mammal species have disappeared since the first settlers arrived.
Also, the study shows that 21% of these species are considered endangered.
Compared to Australia, only one North American species of land mammal has become extinct since the first European settlers arrived.
That species is the sea mink, which disappeared because of excessive hunting.
Approximately 1.5% out of 5,500 mammal species have disappeared.
The researchers discovered that a large number of Australian mammals have started disappearing when the settlers brought cats and foxes on the continent.
The cat was brought to destroy the rat population on-board, while the fox was introduced for hunting purposes.
It turned out that both of these species were ferocious predators and spread rapidly.
The new findings on the extinction of Australian mammals were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Image Source: feral.org
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