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World Parks Congress learns of decline in Kakadu National Park wildlife numbers

World Parks Congress learns of decline in Kakadu National Park wildlife numbers
November 15, 2014

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has described a decline in wildlife numbers in Kakadu National Park as a "significant concern".

Presented at IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney, the first assessment of the world's 228 natural World Heritage sites listed significant concerns over three Australian sites with the Great Barrier Reef and Queensland's wet tropics listed alongside Kakadu.

Within the report, which defines sites that are of significant concern and in need of major additional conservation measures over the medium to long term, the decline in Kadadu's wildlife is attributed to feral and invasive species, such as cane toads, along with climate change.

IUCN World Heritage Program Director Tim Badman said he had concerns about the long-term prospects for Kakadu unless there was more work done to tackle a range of threats, stating "it's the documented decline in many species of small mammals as well as some birds and other species, as well as the impacts of invasive species including cane toads, that were amongst the threats that we noticed that were of the most concern.

However, Badman said there were some positive steps being taken, including the recent plan to move endangered animals from Kakadu National Park to a remote island free of invasive species.

He added "the obvious hope that we have is there will be solutions found and one of the challenges in the case of Kakadu is that there's been quite a debate around what is the cause of this decline that's been observed.

"Until we understand what that is it's a case of not knowing what action should be taken."

Badman emphasisied that Parks Australia, which manages Kakadu National Park, was not to blame for the problems, adding "in the case of Kakadu ... the management has been highly effectively done.

"It's clear that there are threats that are still not being addressed but Kakadu's a place... where it's really this high quality monitoring that has enabled us to be sure that there is a problem that's been identified.

"We're not here to criticise or complain about the management, what we're trying to do is identify that there's an issue to be addressed and ask the question what more can be done to address that."

A Parks Australia spokesperson said the report backed their management strategies, stating "this report shows that we're managing Kakadu well, in the face of a number of biodiversity threats.

"We're determined to meet those challenges head on, the new approach to threatened species that we announced recently is a prime example."

Status of Australian World Heritage sites:

Significant concern: Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu National Park, Wet Tropics of Queensland.

Good with some concern: Fraser Island, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, Greater Blue Mountains Area, Macquarie Island, Tasmanian Wilderness.

Good: Australian Fossil Mammal Sites, Heard and McDonald Islands, Lord Howe Island Group, Ningaloo Coast, Purnululu National Park, Shark Bay, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Willandra Lakes Region.


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