Posted on 05th September 2019 by Media Relations
Imagine a time when platypus are gone from our rivers, or when marine turtles can no longer be found in our seas. Picture the Australian bush without birds, or mossy alpine areas empty of frogs. While these scenes may seem unconceivable, many Australian species are currently at serious risk – in NSW alone there are close to 1000 animal and plant species facing extinction.
Australia is known for its unique flora and fauna – we’re home to more than 500,000 animal and plant species, many of which are endemic. National Threatened Species Day (7 September 2019) is a celebration of this diversity, and a time to highlight at-risk species and what is being done to save them.
Taronga Conservation Society’s programs for threatened wildlife help a myriad of animals. Our activities range from breeding and releasing endangered species, to critical habitat restoration and nurturing Australian school children to become conservation and wildlife champions.
Now, more than ever, Taronga is dedicated to our planet's wildlife and refuses to allow species to go down the path of extinction. We're bringing together conservation partners, donors, education institutions and local communities in Australia and internationally for the betterment of threatened species and their habitats.
This National Threatened Species Day we’re celebrating a few key animals. Of all the species under threat, Taronga has chosen these Aussie battlers because they are umbrella species, meaning that conservation efforts to protect them will also benefit others.
The predominant threat to Platypus on the mainland is habitat loss and degradation. Deteriorating water quality is also adversely affecting their habitat, particularly from household chemicals, pesticides and fertilisers that enter a waterway through storm run-off.
Accidental drowning in nets and traps set for fish and crustaceans has the potential to impact Platypus populations, especially in small streams where populations may be critically small.
Taronga supports platypus conservation in collaboration with the Australian Platypus Conservancy.
Six out of seven of the world’s Marine Turtle species live in Australian waters, and they play a vital role in maintaining the health of our oceans. But all seven species will be impacted by rising sea levels and warmer nesting beach temperatures caused by climate change.
Marine debris is also tarnishing our pristine beaches and waterways and we now estimate that one-third of all marine turtles have eaten litter.
Taronga rehabilitates and releases injured and sick marine turtles brought into our wildlife hospital. We’re also tracking these turtles to discover more about their nesting habitats and behaviours, and to learn where important habitat might be in the future.
This tiny frog is one of Australia's most iconic amphibians. Native to the sub-alpine ponds and bogs of the Snowy Mountains, the Southern Corroboree Frog is also one of Australia’s most endangered species.
The deadly Chytrid Fungus has led to its catastrophic decline in recent decades. This decline spells trouble for their ecosystem. Even as tadpoles, Corroboree Frogs remove algae from alpine waters, keeping them crystal clear and clean for other aquatic plant and animal life.
Taronga is breeding and releasing this species into special enclosures in Kosciusko NP.
These stunning birds help maintain healthy populations of our iconic eucalyptus trees through pollination, providing important food and habitat for many other native animals including the Koala.
The decline of the Regent Honeyeater could have a huge impact on the greater ecosystem because these birds are major contributors to the pollination of native plant species.
Taronga has bred and released almost 300 birds into the wild. We’re also planting trees and partnering with other conservation groups to restore their habitat.
Bilbies are important ‘ecosystem engineers’. They create disturbances in the form of nose pokes, scratchings, digs, long bull-dozing tracts and complex burrows.
In doing this, they improve the soil health by turning over and mixing organic matter. Soil turnover brings deep soils and their nutrients to the surface. Their diggings also trap organic matter and other materials, increasing nutrient availability to the plants. Today they are only found in small areas in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland.
Taronga has established a 110-hectare breeding sanctuary for Bilbies at Western Plains Zoo. Future generations of these Bilbies will be released into Sturt National Park.
The Plains-wanderer is a unique and beautiful ground dwelling native bird, standing about 12-15cm tall and weighing 40 to 95 grams.
It is a naturally timid species and initiates a freeze response at any sign of disturbance. The Plains-wanderer is unique in the way it looks, lives and behaves. If they were to be lost there will be nothing like them left on earth.
The Plains-wanderer has declined greatly since European settlement. Areas where the species was formerly common, and is now so reduced in numbers that it is effectively extinct, include eastern NSW, south-western Victoria, and south-eastern South Australia. Its current stronghold is the western Riverina of southern NSW.
Taronga has a conservation-breeding program at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo for this species, a joint project between the Office of Environment and Heritage’s Saving our Species program and Taronga saw the construction of 30 purpose built aviaries in the Zoo’s 110-hectare Sanctuary in 2018.
How you can help