The study was conducted by Australia’s national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Among the species that could be wiped out are the Western Chestnut Mouse and the Spotted Tree Monitor.
The CSIRO study was commissioned by the Wilderness Society and focused on the Kimberley, a region of northwest Australia and home to “some of Australia’s most iconic mammals and birds,” according to one of the researchers working on the project.
The report has been compared to a business plan for nature, identifying strategies that are the most cost-efficient and most likely to be effective.
The biggest threats to the wildlife in the area are predictably caused by humans. Non-native feral cats hunt birds and small mammals in the area, and humans have been using more frequent, more extensive and hotter wildfire regimes. Additionally, cattle farming and the introduction of other herbivores have done major harm to plants in the area.
CSIRO is advising an immediate one-time cash infusion of $95 million and also advises doubling the annual allowance of $20 million that is currently devoted to protecting endangered Kimberley species.
One can only hope that CSIRO is successful in raising the necessary funds from the Australian Government. After all the mistakes that humans have made in the region, it’s the least that we can do to foot the bill for minimizing the effects of our greed and carelessness.
The damage that we do to the environment and to wildlife is often irreversible. In the Kimberley, it’s not quite too late.
On top of success raising money to preserve these species, we can also hope that we learn a lesson from our mistakes. We recklessly introduce invasive predators into fragile ecosystems because we want those animals as companions, but we don’t want to be fully responsible for them. We start cattle-farming operations and on top of the cows that we slaughter for food, we’re destroying the ecosystems in the area as well.
The all-too-human habit of viewing nature as a resource to be exploited and viewing animals as only deserving life insofar as they are useful to us results in the deaths of billions of individual animals per year as well as an alarming number of plant and animal extinctions. If we want to reverse the trend, then protecting endangered species from the effects of reckless human expansion is a great place to start.