Australian Introduced Animals

Introduced animals don't do any good in Australia.

Not all Australian animals are good for Australian ecosystems. We have learned only recently that introducing animals where they are naturally not found can be a very regrettable thing to do.

You would think that an animal would have difficulties to survive in an environment it is not adapted to, and it sometimes is the case, but often it is the other way around.

Dead Dingo, Shot by a Rancher
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What's the Problem with Introduced Animals?

Many Australian introduced animals thrive better in Australia than on their home continents. Because Australia lacks large carnivores, introduced animals have no predators in Australia. Being placental animals they have larger brains than marsupials and they are successful killers of native fauna. They also compete with native fauna for food and habitat. Some, like cane toads, kill small animals that they eat, and large animals that eat them because they are poisonous. Other introduced species that Australia would do better without are rabbits, feral cats, brumby horses, camels, donkeys, pigs, goats, buffalos, foxes, rats and deer.
Young Rabbit Kits Rubbing Noses
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Rabbits in Australia
When British people first came to Australia, they thought Australia was a dry and boring place and needed to liven up a bit. They introduced plants from England to make the landscape greener and looking more like back in England. In 1859 a man by the name Thomas Austin thought he'd have a bit of fun and released 24 rabbits in Australia, in Victoria. What he didn't consider was that rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) are known to be extra quick breeders. They spread in no time over wide areas in south-eastern Australia and today rabbit populations in Australia cover the whole continent except the tropical north. There is plenty of perfect rabbit habitat in Australia, and rabbits have become serious pests that compete for food and habitat with native fauna, and cause soil erosion and habitat destruction. Like the dingo fence, there is also a rabbit proof fence in Australia.

Portrait of a Young Red Fox
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Other Introduced Wild Animals in Australia
And you would think that people would have learned from that mistake but no – they got excited about the idea instead. All suddenly they needed deer (Cervidae sp.) and red foxes in the wild for game hunting, they needed cats as their pets, and some others like rats were taken here on the boats by accident. It went so far that European animals weren’t enough and so-called “Acclimatisation Societies” were formed, where some of the most dangerous and stupid thoughts were thought, like how giraffes would suit the landscape in central Australia and apes and monkeys would make the rainforest life a bit more interesting! Thanks god these plans didn’t go through but red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are today one of the most wide-spread introduced animals, and they prey on native animals. There are 12 million feral cats (Felis catus) in Australia that constantly kill Australian native birds and mammals. Rats (Rattus sp.) are found in the coastal areas and they also kill small Australian mammals.

Chasing and Catching Brumbies (Wild Bush Horses), Victoria, Australia
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Brumby Facts - Australian Brumby Horses

The early British were also fairly slack to tie their horses (Equus caballus) up properly. The first gold in many parts of Australia was often found in water streams by boys who roamed the countryside looking for their escaped horses. Many horses were never found and started breeding in the wild – today there are populations of feral horses, called brumby horses, scattered around the Australian continent. Brumby horses compete for food with native mammals, destroy their habitat and cause soil erosion.

Arabian Camels (Camelus Dromedarius), Feral in Outback, New South Wales, Australia
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Camel Australia
To help the work in deserts, such as building inland railway lines, about 10,000 camels (Camelus sp.) were introduced between 1840 and 1907. But after the work was ready – the camels were released into the wild! Today, about 100,000 feral camels roam the deserts of inland and Western Australia, eating plants that shelter and feed native animals.

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