|
|
|
|
Search: 
Latin American Herald Tribune
Venezuela Overview
Venezuelan Embassies & Consulates Around The World
Sites/Blogs about Venezuela
Venezuelan Newspapers
Facts about Venezuela
Venezuela Tourism
Embassies in Caracas

Colombia Overview
Colombian Embassies & Consulates Around the World
Government Links
Embassies in Bogota
Media
Sites/Blogs about Colombia
Educational Institutions

Stocks

Commodities
Crude Oil
US Gasoline Prices
Natural Gas
Gold
Silver
Copper

Euro
UK Pound
Australia Dollar
Canada Dollar
Brazil Real
Mexico Peso
India Rupee

Antigua & Barbuda
Aruba
Barbados
Cayman Islands
Cuba
Curacao
Dominica

Grenada
Haiti
Jamaica
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Belize
Costa Rica
El Salvador
Honduras
Nicaragua
Panama

Bahamas
Bermuda
Mexico

Argentina
Brazil
Chile
Guyana
Paraguay
Peru
Uruguay

What's New at LAHT?
Follow Us On Facebook
Follow Us On Twitter
Most Viewed on the Web
Popular on Twitter
Receive Our Daily Headlines


  HOME | Science, Nature & Technology

Australia’s Friendly Marsupial Quokka Threatened with Extinction

SYDNEY – Quokkas, small marsupials whose smiles have launched a torrent of selfies on social media in Australia, are at risk of disappearing from the Oceanic country owing to forest fires, predators and human-driven development.

The quokka, or Setonix brachyurus, is a nocturnal herbivore, measuring little over 40 cm (15.8 inches), has a grayish-brown coat, a long tail and an average life span of 10 years, and is considered the tiniest version of the wallaby.

Found only in southwest Australia, this marsupial was also called “bangup,” “bandeuo,” and “Quak-a” by the Noongar Aborigines.

This species, whose females produce just one offspring a year, is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

When he came across the quokka for the first time, Dutch explorer Willen de Vlamingh described it as “a kind of rat as big as a common cat,” prompting him to name the place he sighted them in as “Rottnest” (Dutch for rat’s nest).

The Rottnest Island, near the city of Perth, is the main habitat of these creatures where their numbers are estimated to be between 8,000-12,000.

The relative abundance of quokkas, with their “smiling” faces and no fear of humans, in the region is a big pull for tourists, who clamor for selfies with them.

However, since European colonization in the late 18th century, the population of quokkas has fallen drastically to just around 4,000 currently.

Moreover, the February 2015 fire that devastated 98,000 hectares (242,163 acres) of forest in southwest Australia, pushed the quokkas in Northcliffe to the verge of extinction, points out WWF-Australia Species Conservation Manager Southwest Merril Halley.

She told EFE, before the fire, the quokkas numbered around 500, but were reduced to just 39 thereafter, according to latest studies.

She added the quokkas may have fled to surrounding areas of the fire-affected zone.

Unfortunately, the forest fire separated quokka survivors from each other, and confined them to smaller habitats with scarce vegetation on which to feed, and far more vulnerable to predator species, including dingoes, foxes and cats.

Inroads by humans have also taken a toll on this friendly species, which have lost habitat to agricultural development, tree-felling, and urbanization, among others.

Halley said, greater genetic diversity of the mainland quokkas makes them very important, and their disappearance could have adverse impacts on the ecosystem.

According to the WWF, quokka numbers in the fire-affected region will need around 15 years to recover.

 

Enter your email address to subscribe to free headlines (and great cartoons so every email has a happy ending!) from the Latin American Herald Tribune:

 

Copyright Latin American Herald Tribune - 2005-2020 © All rights reserved