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At 136 Sites Across N. Australia, Average Mammal Population Loss 75% Since 2001 - SMH [View All]

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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-02-10 12:20 PM
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At 136 Sites Across N. Australia, Average Mammal Population Loss 75% Since 2001 - SMH
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At the 136 sites across northern Australia that have been repeatedly surveyed since 2001, the mammal populations have dropped by an average of 75 per cent. The number of sites classified as ''empty'' of mammal activity rose from 13 per cent in 1996 to 55 per cent in 2009. ''Twenty years ago we would go out and it would be a bonanza of native animals,'' a Charles Darwin University researcher, John Woinarski, said. ''Now we hardly catch anything - it's silent.''

Evidence of encroaching extinction on individual species had been accumulating for decades, but researchers were not necessarily aware that so many species across Australia's north were seeing the same steep declines, Professor Woinarski said. The report, Into Oblivion: The disappearing native mammals of northern Australia, produced for the environment group The Nature Conservancy, collates many lines of evidence into one of the most comprehensive wildlife surveys undertaken in the region.

As well as years of direct observation, researchers visited Aborigines in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory with stuffed specimens of various native mammals and tapped local knowledge. ''There used to be caution about the rate of the decline - it could have simply been cyclical - but it has been corroborated and we have a high level of confidence in it,'' Professor Woinarski said.

Among the native species expected to reach the brink of extinction in the coming decade are the northern brown bandicoot, the northern quoll and the brush-tailed rabbit-rat. On the present trajectories of decline, they will have vanished before 2030.

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