Invasive cats, foxes threaten one in three Aussie mammals: research

SYDNEY, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Invasive cats and foxes are posing a serious threat to about one in three of Australia's mammal species, with major implications for the survival of native wildlife, according to latest research.

In the last 230 years, Australia has had the highest rate of mammal extinction in the world, losing one to two species a decade since the 1850s, La Trobe University researcher Dr Jim Radford said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Foxes and cats have been a primary factor in the majority of these extinctions. Our study shows that introduced predators remain a significant threat to numerous mammals, many of which are clinging to survival by a thread," he said.

Radford, who led a team of more than 20 scientists and conservation managers on a study to categorize every Australian land mammal for their susceptibility to feral cats and red foxes, said the introduced predators have played a leading role in at least 25 mammal extinctions and the latest study would help prevent more.

The researchers found that 63 or about one in three surviving mammal species were at high risk. The victims included bandicoots, quolls and wallabies, they said. The findings were published in scientific journal Wildlife Research.

"Knowing which species are most at risk will help us prioritize where cat and fox control is most needed," said Radford.

"It will also help conservation managers decide which species need the highest level of protection from introduced predators, which currently means being moved to islands or fenced conservation areas where they are out of reach of introduced predators."

[ Editor: WPY ]


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