Photo credit: asibiri/Creative Commons
For decades, the remote Kimberley region of Northern Australia has stood as a stronghold for dozens of rare native species of mammals, birds, lizards and other vertebrates. Now, these species are under serious threat from encroaching invasive species and a series of fires.
The pressure is so severe, researchers believe, that as many as 45 species could face extinction within 20 years."We're in the midst of a massive extinction event in Australia and the north has really been the last stronghold for many species of birds and mammals and reptiles," Tara Martin, a researcher with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, said, "the Kimberley is really their last chance on Earth."
The threat, a new report explains, comes from feral cats, wild donkeys, and a series of forest fires. The cats, researchers found, are opportunistic hunters devastating native populations. Donkeys and goats compete for the scarce food and water resources in the region.
The simplest means of defense, conservationists say, is to reduce the population of goats and donkeys. Educating the public on the impact stray house cats have on local ecosystems is also critical.