Today, World Wildlife Day (March 3rd), provides us with an opportunity to appreciate the unique flora and fauna that share the state of Queensland with us. For us at Queensland Ecologists, it’s also a chance to recognise some of the threatened species of Queensland, whose distribution and viability have been affected by anthropogenic impacts.
One of the first major impacts to Queensland’s fauna was for the fur trade in the mid 19th century. From 1906 to 1936, 3 million possums and nearly 1 million Koalas were hunted each year in Queensland to supply international demand for fur. It’s interesting to note that in 1927, economic pressures resulted in the Queensland Government withdrawing possum and Koala protection measures which had been put in place, which ultimately resulted in half a million Koalas being killed for their furs in a single month! The public outcry at the time was significant.
Fast-forward to the present where our native wildlife is now protected legislatively with varying levels of protection dependant on the recognised level of threat recognised for each species. Large tracts of natural areas are now also protected (the Great Barrier Reef, World Heritage Areas, National Parks, State Forests and Council reserves), along with landscape features of particular importance such as remnant vegetation, waterways and wetlands.
We’ve come a long way in just a century in terms of wildlife protection measures. However it is important that our governing bodies are mindful of past lessons when introducing and repealing wildlife protection measures and when considering outside competing interests.
Happy World Wildlife Day from Queensland Ecologists!