Threatened species could be saved: study

More than 60 of Australia’s most threatened animal species could be saved from extinction with a little extra conservation effort, scientists say.

Mammals, birds, reptiles, frogs and freshwater fish are among the 63 species that could be gone within 20 years, according to the Charles Darwin University-led study.

“Two thirds of these we really should not lose,” conservation biologist Stephen Garnett said.

“We know who they are, where they are, what threatens them and have a good idea of how to save them. It just needs commitment.”

Many are small fish living in the headwaters of streams in southeast Australia where they need protection from trout.

Others include a frog on Victoria’s Mt Baw Baw, a wren living in central NSW, a skink in Arnhem Land, and a parrot in southwestern Australia.

“Some of these already have funded projects,” Prof Garnett said.

“But there are still some receiving no support and existing projects need more investment and a long-term commitment if they are to come back.”

The area needed to manage the 63 endangered species back to health is small. Their ranges combined equate to about 4000sq km or 0.0006 per cent of Australia’s land area.

The hardest to save will be five reptiles, four birds, four frogs, two mammals and a fish that have not been spotted in recent times.

“These are the biggest worry,” Prof Garnett said.

“If you can’t find something, you cannot help it. But we need to make really sure they are gone before we give up.”

The team concluded that a shrew on Christmas Island, a frog in central Queensland, a fish from a river just south of Sydney and a lizard near Melbourne are most likely extinct already.

However, small undiscovered populations may still survive and researchers say it’s too early to give up hope.

The study published in the journal Biological Conservation was a joint effort by ecologists and conservation managers across the country.

The research group recommended a range of actions to improve the chances of these species being conserved.

Key among these are getting all the species officially listed as threatened, increasing survey efforts and urgent management actions to reduce known threats.

Aaron Bunch
(Australian Associated Press)


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