Researchers have recently discovered why a large number of mammals have gone extinct in Australia. It looks like the foxes and cats brought to the continent by early settlers are to blame.
Australia has an alarming extinction rates, which has puzzled the experts for some time now.
In other parts of the world the destruction of the natural habitat and overhunting are cause by humans but in Australia things are a bit different.
According to a recent study, more than 10% of the Australian land mammals have started to go extinct since the arrival of the first settlers from Europe back in 1788.
The extinct animals include some species of mouse, the wallaby and the Tasmanian tiger, which was declared officially extinct in 1986.
The team of researchers involved in the new study on the disappearance of Australian mammals wanted to find out what caused this and started to track the fate all the continent’s marine and land mammals.
According to official reports, at the moment approximately 21% of these species are considered to be endangered species.
The study pointed to the fact that that one of the main reasons responsible for the disappearance of so many mammals coincides with the introduction of two animals: the red fox, which was brought to Australia for hunting purposes, and the feral cat, which was brought on the continent by sailors who wanted to keep the rat population at bay on their ships.
According to the study, both species started spreading rapidly since then.
John Woinarski, one of the study’s lead authors and a researcher at Charles Darwin University in Australia, said that the results were worse than they have expected.
Woinarski added that Australia is facing a serious problem which is of international importance.
The researchers found that seven species that once lived on the Australian mainland have moved on the islands because the foxes and the feral cats have not yet colonized it.
Image Source: phys