Tasmania is an island off the mainland of Australia and is approximately 66,000 square kilometres in area. It is not only mountainous and beautiful in extreme but also a place where European man has made a definite impact on wildlife-both flora and fauna.
After Tasmania separated from the main landmass of Australia it became a living historical showcase for many species that can no longer be found in a living state. Nowhere else in the world can one find a Tasmanian devil or the now supposed extinct thylacine.
Can we change OUR attitudes and work with the land and its animals without trying to break and bend it to our will? Sustainable earnings and living 'on the land' can be achieved in harmaony.
Who was here first?
Here is a short list of those fauna who are constantly put at risk in their native habitat by clear felling, logging and the use of silviculture. Mans encroach on what was once open grass plains, clear mountain streams and other diverse habitats has poisoned the ground and water. What is or was left was shot as danger to European livestock
wedge-tailed eagles occur in many places in Australia, Tasmanian
Wedge-tails are a seperate sub-species. It's numbers are
extremely low and is now protected yet there are those who still
shoot it in what seems a pointless act of barbarism. At times it
has been purported that it has attacked livestock yet in the
field study shows it may attack and eat ,and much
prefer, native wallabies and rabbits. It is also
scavenges on carrion.
Pairs breed in spring and use high branches of eucalypt trees in old growth forests to build a large nest with sticks , bark and leaves. Unfortunately these nests may be re-used year after year but may not be there for them. It seems forestry companies in Tasmania only need protect a nest while birds are in situ, once the birds have moved on in the season the tree and nest with it, may be cut down.
Tasmanian Pademelon (Thylogale billardierii)
Originally this marsupial was found in scrubby areas of Southern Australia and the Bass Strait Islands. The term pademelon is of Aboriginal origin and it is usually called the Rufous Wallaby.
It is a stocky animal about 1 metre in length . Once killed in the millions throughout Australia it is now extinct on mainland Australia due mainly to clear-felling and disruption of its habitat.
In Tasmania it lives as a shy animal with nocturnal habits seeking sanctuary in thick vegetation. Pademelons live on herbs and grasses and are no threat to human or introduced livestock.
Eastern Quoll or Native Cat (Dasyurus viverrinus)
The Eastern Quoll hardly resembles a cat yet early settlers needed to make this land and its animals more like sedate rural England. It is smaller than its reltive the spotted quoll and does not have a first toe on the hind foot . It is a dull brown to black in colour with white spots on sides and back.
Again this is a nocturnal marsupial which hunts rodents and insects as well as eating plants. During the early 1900's an epidemic caused a decline in the mainland population and since approximately 1930 it has become very rare- the Tasmanian population still is at risk. The Huon valley is a "hotspot" for this species.
Its habitat is destroyed daily by "clear felling and conversion to plantation (pine and eucalypt). This eliminates den sites and diversity to prey. Poisoning, shooting and road deaths."
(quoted from Healthy Rivers pamphlet)
Larger than the Eastern Quoll this carnivorous marsupial has very distinctive white spots along its head , back and tail. All that is true for the Eastern Quoll relating to habitat is also relevant to the other threatened species including the spotted tail quoll.
Platypus (Ornithorhyncus anatinus)
"The Platypus is a unique Australian animal. It and the echidna are the only monotremes or egg laying mammals to be found on earth. The platypus is wholly protected throughout Tasmania. It is vulnerable due to continuing degradation of suitable water bodies caused by logging, damming and pesticides.. They prefer slow flowing streams and live in burrows dug into the bank just above the water line. A recent survey of the Huon Valley platypus population (Platypus 2000) revealed 75 sightings between January and April 2000. The largest number of sightings was along Mountain River. The platypus is a good indicator of the ecological health of a river system or catchment because of its dependence on both aquatic and riparian habitats."
More information can be obtained on the Platypus Survey from the Huon Valley Waterwatch Office on 62648410 (international- 61 3 62648410)
**NB Please note I have collated this material from the Healthy Rivers pamphlet on endangered species and also various books such as "The Collins Guide to Rare Mammals" by John A. Burton & Bruce Pearson.
If any copyright has been infringed please let me know asap.**