After years of neglect and reckless inactivity toward the saddening loss of animal species, the Australian government is stepping up activity to save dozens of species at the brink of extinction. Australia already has the worst extinction record in the world. For a species, being classified as close to extinction in the country is as good as hammering the last nail on the coffin. The government’s response to calls for their increased presence in the preservation of wildlife is a welcome relief but will it be enough to save an entire species?
Australia’s Department of Environment recently launched the Threatened Species Strategy on Thursday. The strategy which was launched in Melbourne at the Threatened Species Summit seeks to protect animals and plant species nearing extinction.
Reports indicate that 20 species of mammals together with 20 birds and another 30 plants run risk of extinction in the country. An additional 1800 species have been classified as under threat.
Since 1788, Australia has lost a shocking 29 mammal species. The government’s hands off approach to preservation of wildlife has been cited as the reason for the loss of animal diversity. The Australian authorities, however, see things differently. According to them, feral cats, altered fire regimes, pests and weeds and the agricultural industry’s expansion are to blame for the spate of extinctions.
During the summit, Environment Minister Greg Hunt detailed a five year strategy to save the country’s wildlife. The minister revealed that the strategy will involve the killing of 2 million feral cats and the creation of secure havens where habitat conditions can be monitored.
Hunt said, “We are drawing a line in the sand today which says ‘on our watch, in our time, no more species extinction. It’s tough, it’s a challenge, we can do much and we can do better.”
Hunt also called upon local partners to help out where possible. He said, “This Action Plan starts now. Success will depend on strong partnerships, given we all have a role to play in the fight against extinction. The Australian Government cannot succeed without the community joining us.”
Environment groups welcomed the government’s long overdue intervention in the protection of species in Australia. Through concerted efforts between the two partners, Australia’s days as the country with the worst extinction record will be buried in the past and many threatened animals will have an opportunity to live.