Western Australia Pulls Out the Stops to Save Endangered Species

One of the reasons that international tourists visit Australia is to see the country’s astounding array of wildlife. Australia’s animals range from the impossibly cute (wombat) to the incredibly dangerous (box jellyfish). It’s also home to a lot of endangered and vulnerable species, which are often very region specific. Let’s look at some of the animals in Western Australia that need immediate action to save them from extinction.

  • Western Swamp Tortoise

According to the Australian Government, there are only 200 of these tortoises left in Australia. As one would imagine from the name, the western swamp tortoise is only found in Western Australia; more specifically, near the capital city of Perth.

You might be relieved to know that man is not the only culprit in the tortoises’ dwindling numbers – at least, not directly. The wetlands in which it lives receive less rainfall every year, which means that its habitat is drying up. Rampant fires – of which there are, currently, many – also do their bit to deprive the tortoises of their home.

Fortunately, the Western Swamp Tortoise Recovery Team has taken up the challenge to save this ancient creature. Some of the recovery projects include introducing the tortoises to nature reserves with suitable wetlands, and breeding programmes at Perth Zoo. Education is the cornerstone of most conservation efforts, and the team has implemented many such programmes around the region.

  • Numbat

Its name is brilliant, is it not? Who couldn’t love a little animal called a numbat? They’re very cute marsupials that are indigenous to a tiny area of southwest Western Australia. This area includes eucalyptus forests and grasslands. They eat termites, so they have the same slightly freaky long, thin tongues as anteaters.

According to the Wildlife Preservation Society of Australia, there are about 1000 numbats left in the wild. They tend to fluctuate between endangered and vulnerable on endangered species lists. Like the western swamp tortoise, numbats have a special recovery team, (also) unimaginatively called the Numbat Recovery Team. The team works to control the number of predators that feed on numbats, manage its remaining habitat, and supports breeding programmes at Perth Zoo. There is also a radio tracking programme to monitor populations.

  • Dibbler

Another cute name for another cute critter (and, another marsupial). According to Arkive, a website dedicate to conservation efforts around the world, dibblers are about as rare as it’s possible to get without being extinct. In fact, it was thought to be extinct until it was spotted in 1967. It’s still critically endangered, however.

It’s a tiny, freckled little thing that loves nothing more than foraging and climbing trees. It doesn’t have many natural predators, but thanks to humans, it’s hunted by cats and foxes (australianfauna.com). The Department of Conservation and Land Management is working hard to manage its risk of predation and establish a safe, predator-free habitat on Escape Island (Arkive).

The good news

In September 2012, Western Australia’s Environment Minister announced that more than AU$3 million would be allocated to various conservation projects in the territory, including those to save the western swamp tortoise and dibbler.

Written by Sandy Cosser on behalf of Now Learning, a tertiary education portal that promotes a variety of study opportunities in Western Australia.

Filed in: Eco-Friendly Living, Environment, General Effects

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