This is another blow to Australia’s conservation of their small native species. The quokka is a short-tail scrub wallaby, a small macropod about the size of a domestic cat and a marsupial. They are inquisitive, and popular with people who want to take a selfie with them because of their smiling demeanour.
However, their numbers have been depleted by Australia’s natural disasters. Worryingly, a study has found that their ability to regain previous numbers is much slower than had been thought.
There are two main distributions of quokka in Australia, the mainland which is near Northcliffe about 200 miles south of Perth and the island habitat of Rottnest Island which is 12 miles off Perth. The island habitat tends to create less genetic diversity and therefore the mainland group of quokka is important but their numbers, which were believed to be 600 before their forest home was burnt in wildfires in 2015, were depleted to 39 in 2016. It was projected that the numbers would increase to the previous levels in three years but a survey has concluded that it can take as long as thirteen years to rebuild the population to the numbers that existed before the fire.
In addition to the fires which have decimated their habitat, climate change is affecting their habitat as well. They live in a really dense habitat which is becoming more sparse because the plants cannot adapt to a drying climate, said Ashley Chauvin, the author of the study carried out in conjunction with World Wildlife Fund and the government of Western Australia.
If another fire devastates the mainland habitat of this charming marsupial, they will have nowhere to escape to and this seriously jeopardises their survival. It is believed that the total population number of quokkas is 7,500 adults most of whom are on Rottnest Island where they are protected.
It appears that climate change is causing more frequent and more devastating fires in Australia which must be of great concern to the government. Australians are very protective of their native species so to see this scale of wild animal devastation must be very hurtful. Regrettably, climate change is a product of humankind’s carelessness and greed and therefore the damage done to the survival of quokka and other species originates in human behaviour. This is ironic because the Australian government is going out of their way to eradicate feral cats on the continent to protect native species. Feral cats exists because of, once again, human carelessness. Australians should and could do more to work out what they can do in terms of their activities to conserve wild animals.
They export coal to China which fuels climate change for example altough their dispute with China has curbed coal exports.
SOME MORE ON AUSTRALIA:
Classic story of wildlife conservation versus destruction of habitat for commercial reasons in Australia