Australia’s Tiny Marsupial Population Now Decreasing

July 18, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. conservationist /ˌkɒn sərˈveɪ ʃə nɪst/ (n.) – person who works to save and preserve natural resources
ExampleConservationists gathered to protest against illegal logging.

2. extinction / ɪkˈstɪŋkʃən/ (n.) – the condition of being nonexistent
Example: Some tiger species are now on the brink of extinction.

3. habitat /ˈhæb ɪˌtæt/ (n.) – natural home or place for a living organism
Example: Zoo officials brought back the elephant to its original habitat.

4. wane /weɪn/ (v.) – to decrease in amount
Example: The birds’ population started to wane after the trees were cut down.

5. feral /ˈfɪər əl, ˈfɛr-/ (adj.) – referring to animals living in the wild but were previously owned by a person  
ExampleFeral cats are wilder than house pets.


Read the text below.
A conservationist’s analysis revealed that some species of small mammals in Australia are now endangered.

Wildlife conservation professor Chris Johnson of the University of Tasmania [taz-MEY-nee-uh] said his findings show that certain marsupials might soon vanish because of a big decline in its population. Johnson said some tiny marsupials have already become rare even in areas that provide suitable habitats.

Johnson said the decline became distinct in the early 1990s at Kakadu National Park, a conservation area located in Northern Territory Park. Reports showed that the population of around 20 marsupial species waned in the park and in some other areas.

Among the marsupials noted were bandicoots [BAN-di-koot], quolls [kwol], tree possums [POS-uh ms], and phascogales [FAS-kuh-geyls].

To determine the cause of the disappearance of some marsupial species, Johnson and other researchers analyzed the current population data of the mammals and compared the current wave of extinction with that of the past. The researchers discovered some similar factors that may have led to the decline in the population of some marsupials.

In the past, predators played a key factor in the sudden extinction of some species. Researchers suspect that feral cats across the continent are responsible for the current decline in the number of tiny marsupials. Johnson implied that the species experiencing the decline are the common preys of cats. He added that the tiny marsupials are not endangered in places with no feral cats.

Since feral cats have existed for many years in Australia, Johnson wondered about the cause of sudden decline in the marsupial population recently. He acknowledged that several other factors could have caused this alarming trend. Among the factors include the farm owners’ process of burning fields for grass management.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         How can Australian authorities preserve the remaining tiny marsupials?
·         Why do you think it is important to save and protect these animals?

Discussion B

·         Aside from predators, what can cause decline in animal population? Kindly discuss.
·         How can we save animals from disappearing or getting extinct?

July 18, 2014