19 April 2006

Some Not So Cute Animals

Starting with the latest in a spectacular list of bad choices from our past.

These have included; Rabbits, Foxes, Donkeys, Prickly Pear, Blackberrys
and the list goes on, no wonder we have some of the toughest Quarantine
laws in the world.

The cane toad was imported to help our sugar cane farmers eradicate
pests from their crops.

This very adaptable little critter has instead decided to populate the northern
part of Australia, where he has wreaked havoc to our native wildlife, some by
killing them for his food, (he is a gluttonus bugger) other by poisioning them
when they attack or eat him, (hey can we blame him for this?)

Because the breed so rapidly, a chain of 20,000 eggs per female every 3/4
months, they have decimated our native frogs.

Feral goats had grown to such numbers in some areas that they were being
culled as vermin, somebody then did some research on their fleeces and
their origin.

It was discovered that they were decended from Cashmere stock, they have
since been farmed and now produce some of the worlds best cashmere and
mohair fleeces in the world.

So a new industry has sprung from what appeared to be a very bad situation.

Camels and their handlers from Afghanistan were introduced as beasts of
burden able to handle the harsh conditions encountered when settlement
and exploration of the centre of Australia was undertaken in the 1800s.

During construction of the overland telegraph line, 2,500 miles through some
of the driest and most desolate country on earth they proved invaluable.

Our world famous train, "The Ghan" is an abreviation of Afghan, and pays
tribute to the service of the camels and cameleers of our past.

The remnats of those working camel herds were released to roam wild in
the deserts they helped to tame, there are sizable numbers in some areas.

Another intrduced species that for a short time was a beast of burden here.

For whatever reason they were eventually turned loose to roam free, they bred
into very large numbers in the far north, this would not have been a serious
problem probably if they had not contracded tuberculosis.

This disease spread to the beef herds of northern and central Australia, and as
inoculation of the wild herds was not possible a total cull was ordered, they
were hunted and shot from helicopters until the only survivors were a small
herd that were captured and domesticated, (and inoculated.)

This fellow isn't an introduced species, nor is he particularally nasty, he is a
"Green Tree Snake" a member of the python family, he is not venomous so
unlike many of his kind not a bad fellow to have around, they are among the
best hunters of rats and mice in the world.

Besides I love the photo, it's another taken at Steve Irwins Australia Zoo.


Meow said...

Shame we have so many introduced species, that have turned feral and in plague proportions. It's unfortunate, and now difficult to eradicate. Thanks for the info, Peter. Eeeewww, do I hate Cane Toads !!

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