Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

A Pri¢e for Wildlife

Credit: Michael Johnson, US Fish and Wildlife Service

The value of hunting and meat production from wildlife continues to be an incentive for habitat conservation for wildlife elsewhere in the world.

By George Wilson

Can market-based incentives and private ownership of wildlife remedy shortfalls in government funding for conservation?

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Half of the world's mammal extinctions in the past 200 years have occurred in Australia. Lists are getting longer, and threats from predators and habitat loss are getting worse.

Species such as brush-tailed rock wallabies are retreating along the eastern seaboard. The status of bridle nail-tailed wallabies, which were presumed extinct then rediscovered in the 1970s, remains perilous. Two isolated captive breeding colonies in which they are locally overabundant are their current salvation, but more are needed.

Bettongs have been most seriously hit, with massive reductions in their range in Australia. Predator-free breeding colonies enable them to continue, but these need to be replicated across the country.

The distribution of kiwi has contracted similarly in New Zealand. Some species are resilient in a limited number of predator-free environments.

Koalas are now listed as vulnerable in Queensland and New South Wales, and are absent from many areas such as the ACT, yet in parts of Victoria they are so overabundant that they’re damaging their habitat and starving.

The northern hairy-nosed wombat declined to 35 animals in an isolated colony, making it the most endangered largish mammal in the world. Although its numbers are now increasing, only one additional colony has been established. Many more should be propagated across its range....

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.