|Marco Foronda |||Feb 11, 2015 05:55 AM EST|
(Photo : wikipedia.org) Marsupialia species.
Australia lost 10 percent of its land mammal species during the last 200 years and conservationists state many more are threatened with extinction.
The extinction calamity worries conservationists because land mammals located in the area don't encounter a lot of natural predators. Charles Darwin University researchers said no other country on Earth had such a high rate of land mammal extinction in over 200 years.
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The 29 extinct Australian mammal species in the study's list comprise 35 percent of the world's modern mammal extinctions. The decline hasn't been across the board for all mammalian species, though. Along with marsupials, the hardest hit includes rodents like this hopping-mouse.
One of the most recent additions to the researchers' extinction list is the Bramble Cay melomys, a burrowing rodent that became extinct sometime between 2006 and 2014.
On top of the extinct Australian land mammals, 21 percent of the continent's 273 land mammals are threatened. Scientists think the rate of loss -- around one or two extinctions per decade -- is likely to continue.
Counter intuitively, much of the decline has occurred in areas only sparsely populated by humans.
Some Australian conservationists believe the magnitude of the problem has been underappreciated until recently because the main mammal loss has been to small, nocturnal, rodent-like species. These land mammals lack the profile worthy of public intervention. Their disappearance, therefore, has gone largely unnoticed.
Factors like hunting, habitat loss and the impacts of human development are the prime culprits but scientists also believe the loss of Australian land mammals is because of predation by introduced species like the European red fox and feral cat.
They believe feral cats pose the largest threat to native mammal species. Feral cats have contributed greatly to the disappearance of many ground-dwelling mammals on the mainland.
Currently, measures are being taken to protect native spices on the islands surrounding Australia by improving biosecurity.
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