Addressing our wildlife

Predation by cats is a key threat to at least 120 threatened species in Australia. A major area of research for our hub has been to better understand the impact of cats on susceptible wildlife and how to reduce those impacts. Deputy Director Professor Sarah Legge takes a look at our research to address Australia’s cat problem.


Australia has 2.7 million roaming pet cats and they each kill 110 native animals per year on average

A quarter of Australian households have pet cats, and 71% of cat owners allow their pets to roam and hunt. New hub research has quantified the impact of pet cats on Australian wildlife at a national scale for the first time. The study found that, collectively, roaming pet cats kill 390 million animals per year across Australia, and the impact is concentrated in our towns where pet cats occur at very high densities. The findings have been summarised in this video. Find out more in this article in The Conversation, which has been read by over a quarter of a million people, or in The Guardian.

Cats and foxes after the bushfires

Many threatened and non-threatened species have had large proportions of their distributions burnt in this summer's bushfires. One of the post-fire challenges to population recovery that many native species will face is increased risk of predation, including by introduced foxes and cats. We took a look at the interactions between fire and predation by cats and foxes and options for their management.


Could toxoplasmosis have a role in mammal declines?

Toxoplasmosis was introduced to Australia by cats, who continue to spread the disease. It is known that the disease affects Australian mammals, and that many Australian mammals are suffering dramatic declines. It was completely unknown, however, whether these declines are linked with toxoplasmosis. Dr Nelika Hughes from The University of Melbourne investigated Toxoplasma gondii prevalence across Australia and whether it has played a role in mammal declines.


Feral cats: An Australian Government perspective

Since European arrival, feral cats have been implicated in the extinction of at least 20 mammal species and currently threaten at least 120 nationally listed species. Oliver Tester from the Office of the Threatened Species Commissioner tells us about the Australian Government’s action on feral cats, including how hub research is guiding strategy for feral predator-free safe havens.


The conundrum of cats in Australia

Beloved companion animal and decimator of native wildlife – that is Australia’s cat conundrum. Tida Nou from The University of Queensland is undertaking a project which is finding out how over 500 local governments across Australia are managing cats, synthesising the latest research on cat impacts and management, and engaging with a broad range of groups to better inform Australia’s national cat management conversation. 


Improving feral cat control: Baiting trials at Taunton National Park 

Once commonly found throughout eastern Australia, bridled nailtail wallabies suffered large declines after European settlement and became restricted to a small population at Taunton National Park (Scientific) in central Queensland. Dr Matt Gentle, Principal Scientist in the Pest Animal Research Centre at the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, takes us through the cat baiting trials at Taunton in this joint hub and Queensland Government initiative.


Index puts spotlight on threatened mammal trends

Australia’s Threatened Species Index combines data from monitoring programs across the country to track trends in threatened species populations. Threatened mammals have now been added to the index. Populations of Australia’s threatened mammals have declined by over one third (38%) in twenty years (1995-2016), but among the losses there have been some significant recoveries. Conservation actions pay off; where these have occurred populations have increased by 46% on average. At sites with no conservation actions populations have decreased by 60% on average. 

ABC News 

Like our stories and want to read more?
The latest Science for Saving Species magazine is available HERE.

The Threatened Species Recovery Hub is supported through funding from the
Australian Government's National Environmental Science Program.

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Threatened Species Recovery Hub · Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science · The University of Queensland · St Lucia, Qld 4072 · Australia