Australia animals

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Main article: Invasive species in Australia
Introduction of exotic fauna in Australia by design, accident and natural processes has led to a considerable number of invasive, feral and pest species which have flourished and now impact the environment adversely. Introduced organisms affect the environment in a number of ways. Rabbits render land economically useless by eating everything.[187] Red foxes affect local endemic fauna by predation while the cane toad poisons the predators by being eaten.[188] Some water fleas may have been introduced to Australia by humans[189] or birds.[190] Other invasive species include birds (Indian mynah), fish (common carp), insects (red imported fire ant), molluscs (Asian mussel). The problem is compounded by invasive exotic flora as well as introduced diseases, fungi and parasites. An example of this is Blue Green Algae, which is spreading through many bodies of water in rural Victoria, such as the Gippsland Lakes.
Costly, laborious and time-consuming efforts at control of these species has met with little success and this continues to be a major problem area in the conservation of Australia's biodiversity.[191]
Many of the introduced species are not regulated through wildlife services and can be regularly hunted year round.[citation needed] Some states even fund hunting initiatives though the efficacy of these programs are disputed.[192]
Human impact and conservation[edit]
Main article: Conservation in Australia
For at least 40,000 years, Australia's fauna played an integral role in the traditional lifestyles of Indigenous Australians, who relied upon many species as a source of food and skins. Vertebrates commonly harvested included macropods, possums, seals, fish and the short-tailed shearwater, most commonly known as the muttonbird. Invertebrates used as food included insects such as the bogong moth and larvae collectively called witchetty grubs and molluscs. The use of fire-stick farming, in which large swathes of bushland were burnt to facilitate hunting, modified both flora and fauna – and are thought to have contributed to the extinction of large herbivores with a specialised diet, such as the flightless birds from the genus Genyornis.[193] The role of hunting and landscape modification by aboriginal people in the extinction of the Australian megafauna is debated,[194] but increasingly favours the idea humans were responsible for megafaunal extinction.[195]
The grey nurse shark is critically endangered on the Australian east coast.
Despite the major impact of Aboriginals on native species populations, this is considered to be less significant than that of the European settlers,[194] whose impact on the landscape has been on a relatively large scale. Since European settlement, direct exploitation of native fauna, habitat destruction and the introduction of exotic predators and competitive herbivores has led to the extinction of some 27 mammal, 23 bird and 4 frog species. Much of Australia's fauna is protected by legislation.[1] The federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 was created to meet Australia's obligations as a signatory to the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity. This act protects all native fauna and provides for the identification and protection of threatened species. In each state and territory, there is statutory listing of threatened species. At present, 380 animal species are classified as either endangered or threatened under the EPBC Act, and other species are protected under state and territory legislation.[196] More broadly, a complete cataloguing of all the species within Australia has been undertaken, a key step in the conservation of Australian fauna and biodiversity. In 1973, the federal government established the Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS), which coordinates research in the taxonomy, identification, classification and distribution of flora and fauna. The ABRS maintains free online databases cataloguing much of the described Australian flora and fauna. Impacts such as the illegal setting of traps in rivers affect animals such as the Australian platypus, along with lack of awareness each year an average of 2–5 Australians lose their lives to what is presumed a safe creature. The key is understanding of Australia's diverse wildlife and fauna; what seems safe is often deadly.
The Australian Wildlife Conservancy is the largest private owner of land for conservation in the country which is dedicated to protecting endangered species across 4.8 million hectares of land in the most popular regions such as the Kimberley, Cape York, Lake Eyre and the Top End. This not-for-profit organisation is working hard to avoid extinction of the endangered native species in various wildlife sanctuaries.[197]
Australia is a member of the International Whaling Commission and is strongly opposed to commercial whaling — all cetacean species are protected in Australian waters.[198] Australia is also a signatory to the CITES agreement and prohibits the export of endangered species. Protected areas have been created in every state and territory to protect and preserve the country's unique ecosystems. These protected areas include national parks and other reserves, as well as 64 wetlands registered under the Ramsar Convention and 16 World Heritage Sites. As of 2002, 10.8% (774,619.51 km2) of the total land area of Australia is within protected areas.[199] Protected marine zones have been created in many areas to preserve marine biodiversity; as of 2002, these areas cover about 7% (646,000 km2) of Australia's marine jurisdiction.[200] The Great Barrier Reef is managed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority under specific federal and state legislation. Some of Australia's fisheries are already overexploited,[201] and quotas have been set for the sustainable harvest of many marine species.
The State of the Environment Report, 2001, prepared by independent researchers for the federal government, concluded that the condition of the environment and environmental management in Australia had worsened since the previous report in 1996. Of particular relevance to wildlife conservation, the report indicated that many processes — such as salinity, changing hydrological conditions, land clearing, fragmentation of ecosystems, poor management of the coastal environment, and invasive species — pose major problems for protecting Australia's biodiversity.
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