Australia's Endangered Animals Australian Endangered Animals

Bilby

There are over 300 endangered animals in Australia today. These include the koala, wombat, cassowary, and quokka. Sadly, there is a very high probability that many of these animals will disappear from the earth forever.

Due to human activities, the number of endangered species in Australia has accelerated at an alarming rate. For example, the Tasmanian tiger became extinct in just 100 years after European settlers hunted it to death. Likewise, the gastric-brooding frog became extinct in the mid-1980s due to a pathogenic fungus spread by humans.

Listed below are 35 endangered species of Australia. You can also use the "quick search" button in the menu bar to find endangered Australian animals listed.

Southern Corroboree Frog Critical

The corroboree frogs are visually striking and highly poisonous. The main reasons for their decline are the chytridiomycosis fungus and climate change. Feral horses and pigs also damage these frogs' habitats and spread the chytridiomycosis fungus between breeding grounds. There may be as few as 50 frogs left in the wild.

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Leadbeater's Possum Critical

Leadbeater's Possums are fast-moving arboreal marsupials. Once thought to be extinct, a few were rediscovered in 1961. Their current population is estimated to be 4,000-11,000 animals. The decline in the number of these animals is due to habitat loss (especially loss of hollow-bearing trees) due to logging and bushfires.

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Swift Parrot Critical

The Swift Parrot, also known as the Red-faced or Red-shouldered parrot, is a rather noisy bird and is the fastest parrot in the world. The decline of the swift parrot is due to habitat loss, droughts, competition for food from introduced bees, predation by cats, and illegal capture by humans for aviculture. There are only 2,000 left.

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Northern Wombat Critical

Northern hairy-nosed wombats are burrowing marsupials found in only two locations in Queensland. Competition from cattle and sheep cause their decline. As recently as 1980 there were only 35 left in the wild. Today, due to an extensive conservation effort their numbers have increased to just 300.

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Night Parrot Critical

Night Parrots are small ground-dwelling nocturnal parrots. Until recently, they were thought to be extinct. Their decline is caused by human-introduced animals such as cats and foxes. And habitat destruction and degradation by introduced animals such as rabbits, camels and livestock. Only 250 survive.

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Gilbert's potoroo Critical

Gilbert's potoroos are small nocturnal, herbivorous marsupials about 27cm in length. Habitat loss, climate change, and attacks by feral cats and foxes are responsible for the critically endangered status of this animal. With a global population of less than 100, Gilbert's potoroos are the world's rarest mammals.

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Snapping Turtle Critical

White-throated snapping turtles breathe through their bums (anus). Because of this, they require well-oxygenated flowing water to survive. Habitat destruction by humans and cattle, and predation by feral foxes, dogs, pigs, cats and water rats. The white-throated snapping turtle is in critical danger of becoming extinct.

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Woylie Critical

Woylies are small nocturnal marsupials with the interesting habit of carrying bundles of building materials with their tails. Their decline is a result human induced grazing animals, agriculture and land clearing, and predation by feral cats, foxes, and rabbits. Today their total population is estimated at 10,000-20,000 animals.

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Koala Endangered

Koalas are cuddly tree-dwelling marsupials with large noses. The biggest threat to koalas is habitat loss caused by land clearing, domestic dog attacks, chlamydia, bushfires and road accidents. The country lost 30% of its koala population between 2018 and 2021. The estimate of the number of koalas ranges from 330,000 to 52,000.

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Cassowary Endangered

Cassowaries, standing 2m tall and weighing 50kg, are the world's most dangerous bird and also the second-largest bird. The major threats to wild cassowaries include habitat loss, vehicle strikes, dog attacks, human interactions, pigs, disease and natural disasters. Less than 50,000 Australia cassowaries survive in the wild.

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Tasmanian Devil Endangered

Tasmanian devils are the world's largest meat-eating marsupials. The main reason for its decline is a cancer called devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) which produces large tumours on the animal's head and mouth. which interferes with its ability to eat, resulting in starvation. There are about 25,000 Tasmanian devils in the wild.

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Gouldian Finch Endangered

Gouldian finches are beautifully coloured grass finches. They were once found by the millions. The main reasons for their decline are livestock grazing, feral cats and foxes, climate change, and bushfires. Their total population is estimated at less than 2500 birds today. However, Gouldian finches survive as domestic pets.

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Wallaby Endangered

endangered-rock-wallaby

Wallabies are agile to medium-sized hopping marsupials similar to kangaroos but smaller. Two species are endangered, one is threatened, and two others are vulnerable. Dingoes, domestic and feral dogs, feral cats, and red foxes are among their predators. Humans also threaten wallabies due to vehicular accidents and habitat loss.

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Antechinus Endangered

Antechinuses are ferocious mouse-like marsupials with crazy sex lives. They breed only once in their lifetimes and then die. Two species are endangered. The main threat to antechinuses is habitat destruction by humans. They fall prey to introduced animals such as foxes and cats. Pigs, cattle, and horses trample and destroy their habitats.

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Greater Bilby Endangered

Greater bilbies are small, nocturnal, omnivorous marsupials with blue-grey fur, rabbit-like ears and pointy pink snouts. The bilby population continues to decline, primarily due to predation by feral cats and foxes. And competition from cattle, sheep and feral rabbits, horses and camels. About 10,000 bilbies survive.

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Northern Quoll Endangered

Northern quoll populations have declined drastically due to habitat destruction and degradation caused by introduced herbivores such as sheep, cattle, rabbits, horses and camels. Predators such as dingoes, dogs, feral cats, snakes, owls and kites. Eating poisonous cane toads have exacerbated the Northern quoll’s decline.

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Great Barrier Reef Endangered

The Great Barrier Reef is the world's most spectacular coral reef. It has the most diverse range of underwater animals in the world. The greatest danger to the reef is climate change. Other threats include poor water quality from land-based run-off, impacts from coastal development and deadly starfish outbreaks.

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Bandicoot Endangered

Bandicoots are small omnivorous marsupials with pointy snouts, large hind feet, and hop. Bandicoots fall prey to dingoes, quolls, large birds, feral cats, dogs, and foxes. They are also in competition with rabbits for food and nesting areas. Many are killed by motor vehicles. Others are even poisoned by eating snail bait.

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Quokka Vulnerable

Quokkas look like the happiest animals in the world. About the size of a domestic cat, only 4,000 survive on mainland Australia and 7,000 live on Rottnest island. The main reasons for their decline on the mainland are habitat loss and degradation, and predation by foxes and feral cats. They are fully protected on Rottnest island.

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GIANT Cuttlefish Vulnerable

Giant cuttlefish are cephalopods and are related to squid and octopus. They grow up to 1m long and weigh 10kg. Cuttlefish are intelligent creatures that can rapidly change colour, shape, and texture for camouflage. They can also move backwards using jet propulsion. Giant cuttlefish are impacted by overfishing and habitat degradation.


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Dingo Vulnerable

Dingoes are lean, medium-sized Australian wild dogs. The "pure" dingo breed is disappearing because of interbreeding with domestic dogs. As a result, the "pure" dingo subspecies may become extinct. Humans are the biggest threat to dingoes. They are frequently poisoned and shot because they threaten livestock.

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Numbat Vulnerable

Numbats are small marsupial anteaters. They use their long sticky tongues to forage for termites. Numbats are threatened by predation from foxes and cats. Land clearing is another factor affecting their decline. One species became extinct in the 1960s. Less than 1,000 numbats survive.

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Dugong Vulnerable

Dugongs are plant-eating marine mammals. They can grow to 3m and weigh 500 kgs. Commercial gillnet fishing is a major threat to dugongs.

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Giant Clam Vulnerable

The Giant clam is the world’s largest sessile mollusc. It has large protruding blue iridescent lips. It is endangered because of harvesting by humans.

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Tree Kangaroo Vulnerable

Tree kangaroos are kangaroos that live in trees. They climb by wrapping the forelimbs around a tree and hopping up with their powerful hind legs.

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Sea Lion Endangered

Australian sea lions have stocky bodies, a large head, and short narrow flippers. They hunt fish and squid. There are only about 10,000 left.

 

Whale Endangered

Humpback whales travel up from the Antarctic to give birth and feed their young. They can grow to 12 – 16 metres and weigh 36,000 kgs.

 

Plains Wanderer Critical

Plains wanderers are small quail-like birds that live in semi-arid grasslands. They prefer to run rather than fly and fall easy prey to foxes.

 

Eastern Bettong Vulnerable

The eastern bettong became extinct on the mainland in the 1920s because of the red fox and rabbit. A small number still survive in Tasmania.

 

What is Extinction? What does 'Extinct' Mean?

Photo: Extinct Dinosaur

Extinction means that there are no more of a particular type of plant or animal living anywhere in the world—they are extinct. A clear example of extinction is the dinosaurs. They disappeared from the face of the earth 65 million years ago. Extinction is an ongoing process of evolution. It is estimated that over 90% of all animals that ever lived since life began on the earth are now extinct. Extinction is usually a slow process that takes many hundreds, if not thousands of years.

In recent time, however, due to human activities, the number of species becoming extinct has accelerated at an alarming rate. Some species have become extinct in just a few years.

Photo: Extinct Tasmanian Tiger

In Australia, the Tasmanian tiger became extinct in just 100 years after European settlement. Similarly, in America, the passenger pigeon, which once numbered in the hundreds of millions, became extinct in less than a hundred years because of indiscriminate hunting by European settlers.

Remember, once they are gone, they are gone forever. That is extinction or to be extinct .

Learn About Extinct Australian Animals


Who Decides? Organisations that Determine Species Status

Many conservation organisations have their own classification criteria for determining a species extinction threat level. Everybody agrees on what extinction is, but they differ in their identification of the various stages leading to extinction.

The worldwide organisation for determining the status of an animal species is the International Union for the Conservation of Nature ( IUCN). This body regularly publishes its Red List of Threatened Species. In Australia, various federal and state environmental protection agencies also publish their own lists. The Australian Department of the Environment Endangered Australian Animals List identifies many Australian native animals are endangered and threatened with extinction.

Photo: IUCN Classification of animals

The diagram on the left is a simplified version of the IUCN classifications. Basically, there are three main categories. They range from Least Concern through Threatened to Extinct. The IUCN classification bundles Critical, Endangered and Vulnerable into a broader more general category labelled Threatened.

The general public and the media, however, seem to prefer the more evocative term "endangered' to mean threatened. We too prefer the term 'endangered', to mean these animals are in imminent danger of disappearing from the face of the earth.


What is an Endangered Animal? Definition of Endangered Species

An endangered species is a group of wild animals or plants that are in danger of becoming extinct, totally disappearing from the earth permanently.


What Causes an Animal to Become Endangered? What Factors Contribute to Animals Extinction

Animals and plants risk becoming endangered and eventually extinct because of circumstances they cannot cope with. These include natural disasters, climate change, human impacts, competition from introduced animals, and disease.

Natural Disasters

Cataclysmic events have occurred throughout the earth’s history. Sixty-five million years ago an asteroid killed the dinosaurs. The desertification of the Sahara and the drying up of Africa similarly had significant effects on species survival. These are naturally occurring events.

Climate Change

Photo: Polar bear on melted ice sheet

Photo: Coral bleaching

Changes in the world’s climate brought about by natural or human-induced changes can seriously affect the viability of animal species. For example, global warming and the consequent melting of the polar ice caps are threatening the future of polar bears. Closer to home, changes in sea temperature are believed to be contributing to the death of vast tracts of coral on the Great Barrier Reef.

Human Impacts

In recent time, with the growth in human populations and technology, the man-made contribution to species endangerment and annihilation has increased tremendously. We have contributed to species extinction by large scale habitat destruction and modification by agriculture, mining and urban growth, land clearing, destroying forests and the pollution of waterways, rivers, and the world’s oceans. Many animal species have also been significantly impacted by human commercial, recreational and other activities. These include commercial and recreational hunting, over-harvesting as in the case of fishing and whaling. For example, the koala almost became extinct because it was killed for its fur and the Tasmanian tiger was considered a pest and hunted to extinction.

Competition & Displacement by Introduced Species

Many animals were introduced into local environments without due consideration to their impact on local fauna. Cane toads, rabbits, red foxes and feral cats, for example, have become invasive and killed or displaced many native Australian animals.

Disease

Native animals also fall foul of diseases. For example, in recent time, koalas have been affected by chlamydia epidemics which has left many female kolas sterile. The Tasmanian Devil Tumour Disease has wiped out large numbers of the Tasmanian devil.


Types of Australian Species Endangered What Types of Animals Face Extinction?

Number of Endangered
Australian Animals

 

Critical

Endangered

Vulnerable

Extinct

Fish 7 16 24 -
Frogs 5 14 10 4
Reptiles 8 17 34 1
Birds 9 47 62 24
Mammals 5 34 >55 27
Other 23 17 >11 6
Total 57 161 196 62+

According to the Australian Department of the Environment's Endangered Australian Animals List, many Australian native animals are endangered and threatened with extinction. For example, even the cuddly koala is listed as vulnerable, the cassowary and night parrot are listed as endangered, and the gouldian finch and the 'bum breathing' white-throated snapping turtle as critical.

About 300 species of Australian animals are endangered. These animals may disappear from the face of the Earth forever. They will become extinct! Presently, one Australian animal becomes extinct every 5 years. Humans are responsible for this terrible situation.


Extinct Australian Animals Many native animals of Australia became extinct since humans arrived

Since the arrival of European settlers in 1788, Australia has lost numerous native animals and plants. The Tasmanian Tiger is a prominent example of a recently extinct Australian animal. The last died in captivity in 1936.

Learn About Extinct Australian Animals