Truf­fle-eat­ing rat kan­ga­roo at risk:


A truf­fle-eat­ing Aus­tralian mar­su­pial known as the rat kan­ga­roo has suf­fered a dra­matic pop­u­la­tion de­cline and could be­come ex­tinct with­out ur­gent ac­tion to save the species, a re­port warned Thurs­day.

The World Wildlife Fund said only two pop­u­la­tions of the north­ern bet­tong re­mained in the wet coastal trop­ics of north­ern Queens­land state, num­ber­ing at most 2,500 in­di­vid­u­als, down 70 per­cent in the past 30 years.

The noc­tur­nal, rab­bit-sized bet­tongs are at risk from feral cats, land-clear­ing and wild­fires, which have be­come more fre­quent and fierce in Queens­land due to cli­mate change.

“We know par­tic­u­larly with cli­mate change a mas­sive wild­fire could be just around the cor­ner,” said Tim Cronin, WWF’s se­nior man­ager for species con­ser­va­tion in Aus­tralia.

“Any sit­u­a­tion where you have one pop­u­la­tion iso­lated and that’s all you have in the wild, it puts you at a re­ally high risk.”

Cronin said it was crit­i­cal to es­tab­lish an “in­sur­ance pop­u­la­tion” of the north­ern bet­tong, pro­tected from pests and fire, and con­sider rais­ing the species’ sta­tus from

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