Australian Mammal Extinctions Blamed On Cats And Foxes

SYDNEY (AP) — Australia has always been unique, from its geographical isolation at the bottom of the Earth to its infamous bevy of venomous creatures. Now, scientists have uncovered another unique — and disturbing — facet of Australian life: the country’s mammals are going extinct at an alarmingly high rate, due in large part to a couple of critters with voracious appetites.

A study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday shows that more than 10 percent of the land mammal species endemic to Australia have been wiped out since European settlement. The main culprit? Cats and foxes brought to the continent by those settlers.

Australia’s extraordinary extinction rate has long been a source of puzzlement. In the rest of the world, the extinction of various species is generally blamed on humans who have overhunted the animals or destroyed their habitat. But in sparsely populated Australia, much of the vast, desert interior remains virtually untouched by people. By global standards, it should be a paradisiacal safe-haven for animals.

A group of Australian scientists set out to pinpoint the scope of the extinction problem and its cause by tracking the fate of all the country’s land and marine mammals —> Read More Here


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