Australians worst at preserving wildlife

These statistics are pretty surprising, especially if you consider how much Australians love their animals.

Of all the mammal species that have become extinct in the past 200 years, nearly half are Australian, reports The New Zealand Herald. Since the British arrived, 27 mammals (about 10 percent of the total) have disappeared. Australians apparently have have the worst record on the planet for conserving their wildlife.

There seem to be several different reasons for this: land clearing, with the resulting habitat destruction, and a change in fire regimes – from the patchy, selective burnings carried out by Aborigines to today’s devastating bushfires. By far the worst harm has been done by the introduction of exotic predators, especially feral cats and foxes. Their impact has been compounded by the culling of dingoes, which otherwise keeps the cat and fox population down. Dingoes, however, have been virtually eliminated in sheep-raising areas.

Species already lost include: the lesser bilby, a delicate marsupial that burrowed in desert sand dunes and the pig-footed bandicoot, which looked like a miniature horse.