Humans - First Introduced Animals of Australia The Most Invasive Animals in Australia
Yes this may sound controversial, but we humans were the first introduced animals to invade Australia. While people like to conveniently exclude ourselves from the Animalia kingdom, we are actually are members of the hominin, a branch of great apes.
Unfortunately humans are the most invasive animals in Australia arriving over 40,000 years ago we have been disrupting the Australian ecosystem and resulted in hundreds of species of plants and animals becoming extinct. Humans have caused more environmental and ecological damage to Australia than all other introduced animals combined.
The Aborigines were the first humans to arrive in Australia. At about the time they arrived in Australia 50,000 years ago, a number of crucial events seem to have occurred. The first was the gradual drying out of the Australian continent. The second was the significant increase in fire events. The third was an increase in grasslands. And fourth was the extinction of Australian mega-fauna (huge animals).
There is much controversy as to how much the Aborigines contributed to these events. While it is most like that they didn't directly cause any them, it is most like that they contributed to hastening them. Firstly, it is known that Aborigines used fire to flush out animals from forests (see painting above) and to clear and promote the growth of grasslands which made it easier for them to hunt. Secondly, while there is little irrefutable evidence that the Aborigines actively hunted mega-fauna, there is clear proof that they were eating the meat of these huge beasts and possibly killing juvenile animals which were easier to kill.
So it is most likely that as the continent was drying out, Aborigines were also burning forests and killing already depleted mega-fauna stocks hastening their demise.
Human hunting most likely caused extinction of 21 species of kangaroos by the end of Pleistocene times (Prideaux et al. 2007) (Prideaux et al. 2009)
- Even though climate became increasingly arid, kangaroos were already well-adapted to very dry conditions
- Climate change and human landscape burning may have had a lesser impact
- Smaller and faster red and grey kangaroos are all that is left of the large Pleistocene macropods (
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