Maybe you heard about the Tasmanian Tiger. It was hunted to extinction in 1936. The last one died in the Hobart Zoo. Our unsustainable human activities have consequences to the environment and some animals that lived for centuries are now extinct. Therefore knowing about extinct animals, and relating them to the ones alive allow us to prepare conservation strategies.
Besides the well-known Tasmanian Tiger, what Australian animals are extinct?
This article from ScienceDirect concludes that 100 Australian endemic species (one protist, 38 vascular plants, ten invertebrates, one fish, four frogs, three reptiles, nine birds and 34 mammals) are validly listed as extinct (or extinct in the wild) since the nation’s colonization by Europeans in 1788.ScienceDirect – Reading the black book: The number, timing, distribution and causes of listed extinctions in Australia
Out of all extinct species, mammals have suffered the most. The main reasons for such extinctions are:
- Fire: Inappropriate fire management can destroy and fragment habitats.
- Illegal Wildlife Trade and Poaching: Conflict between humans and wildlife can lead to poaching and illegal trade,
- Habitat Destruction: The destruction of habitat can devastate animal populations. Changes in the environment and the loss of habitat can happen from natural causes such as weather or geological shifts.
- Introduced Predators: Foxes and feral cats are among the most destructive introduced species.
- Climate Change: Changes in temperature and rainfall are damaging ecosystems.
- Pollution: Chemicals are known to have harmed many species. Plastic pollutants, for example, are damaging to marine animals such as turtles.
- Overfishing and hunting: Some species, such as the Tasmanian Tiger, have been hunted to extinction. Some animals are hunted for food, but also for their teeth, skin, fur, etc. Overfishing is also a big problem, introducing rules and restrictions around fishing and hunting helps to protect species.
- New diseases: Introduced species can bring new diseases to which local animals have little resistance.
At the same time, according to Wikipedia, the list below includes a total of:
- 32 mammal species (25 from mainland Australia), including 31 extinct and one possibly extinct.
- Ten extinct bird species (one from mainland Australia)
- Two reptile species (one from mainland Australia), including one extinct and one possibly extinct.
- Five amphibian species (all from mainland Australia), including three extinct and two possibly extinct.
Although different sources arrive at different total numbers of extinct species, it is clear that the trend is alarming and conservation strategies are highly beneficial.
Simple things we can do to save endangered species
- Learn about endangered species: The first and most important step is to learn and understand how important these species are and why we should protect them. It is good if we also share this knowledge with family and friends and raise awareness.
- Use less plastic: Plastic pollution is a real danger to marine wildlife and bird. We can help by reducing the amount of plastic we use. Recycling is also important.
- Reduce waste in general: Food and things we do not longer use end up in landfill and can emanate methane, a gas that contributes to climate change.
- Plant trees: Trees offer shelter and food for many animals and also help with weather adjusting.