The bettong of the north, an Australian marsupial rat, that disappears
The number of copies of bettong of the north, known in Australia like the kangaroo rat, does not surpass the 2,500 units and of not taking measures they could disappear in 10 years, warned today the World-Wide Fund for the Nature (WWF).
"We must protect the bettong who are conserving and restoring the forests, controlling the pests and using the recommended fire control plans to maintain and expand their habitat," said Tim Cronin, an expert with the Australian subsidiary of the organization in a statement.
The northern bettong (Bettongia tropica), a marsupial the size of a hare that moves slowly and has become endemic throughout Australia, currently occupies an area of 145 square kilometers in two places in the humid tropics of the state of Queensland , in the northeast of Australia.
"But it is known that only one of the populations is stable," said the Bettong North Project report published after a five-year investigation.
According to the study, the bettong of the north, whose population extended in an area of 1,000 square kilometers at the beginning of the European colonization of Australia, has an "important and irreplaceable role in the ecosystem".
The absence of the North Bettong would imply a reduction in the diversity of truffles and possibly a damage to the diversity of the trees and the ecosystem in general, pointed out this project in which James Cook University, the traditional owners and authorities of Queensland and Australia.
It is estimated that the habitat of these marsupials was reduced from 355 square kilometers in the last three decades and that only the area called Lamb range, southwest of the city of Cairns, seems to retain a relatively strong population.
"The good news is that the tropical bettong is stable in the core of its habitat," added Sandra Abell, who managed the scientific project, whose projections suggest that the population of Lamb range could disappear in 10 years if no action is taken.
Abell warned that "the current number, which probably does not exceed 2,500 (copies) is well below the 5,000-1000 copies that was calculated when it was given the status of 'endangered' on the IUCN red list (Union International for the Conservation of Nature) ".
One of the threats from the bettong of the north is the wild cats, one of their predators that was detected in 40 percent of the eleven zones analyzed, as well as the cattle and the wild pigs, competitors for the food and that alter the habitat and the availability of food.
Added to this is the impact of the reduction of indigenous fire control regimes that help maintain the health of forests.
"To make matters worse, climate change is likely to further alter their habitat by affecting the availability of seasonal food and exacerbating the threats of wildfires and predators," WWF said in the statement.