Historic Mammal Report: feral cats driving extinctions
June 2014: The first ever comprehensive review of the state of Australia’s mammal fauna confirms that “business as usual” will mean more mammal extinctions.
AWC is a major sponsor of, and a significant contributor to, the Action Plan for Australian Mammals. It will be launched by the Federal Environment Minister, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, at an AWC function in July.
Key findings in relation to Australia’s terrestrial mammals:
- 29 Australian mammals are now extinct: almost 10% of our original mammal fauna. This is the highest mammal extinction rate in the world.
- 63 terrestrial mammals are now listed as threatened under either the Mammal Action Plan or Federal legislation. In other words, 30% of our surviving mammal species are threatened with extinction.
- Feral cats are the major threat to our mammal fauna.
The most significant message from the Action Plan is the critical need to focus available resources on addressing the impact of feral cats.
AWC is leading the way on feral cat control: (a) we are carrying out the largest feral cat research program in Australia in a bid to identify effective strategies for landscape scale cat control; and (b) we manage more fox and cat-free land on mainland Australia than any other organisation (through the establishment of mainland fenced islands such as at Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Action Plan highlights the need for additional feral cat-free areas on mainland Australia.
AWC is leading the way on mammal conservation in Australia: our sanctuaries protect 32 nationally threatened mammals (including bats). The outcomes at many AWC sanctuaries – especially where we have established fenced areas – have bucked the trend of the last decade. We have delivered significant increases in our populations of Greater Bilbies, Numbats, Bridled Nailtail Wallabies and other species.
The authors of the Mammal Action Plan are John Woinarski (a member of AWC’s Science Advisory Network), Andrew Burbidge and Peter Harrison.