Rabbits are such an invasive species in Australia that, in Queensland, they are even banned as pets. Despite the records of pet rabbits since the beginning of the colonization of the lands by the British, the exact origin of the introduction of animals into the country has always been the subject of studies, and the recently published research seems to have reached ground zero. .
Conducting genetic screening analyzed rabbits from Australia and Europe, University of Cambridge and CIBIO from Portugal, reached a result That the decisive moment for the dispersal of rabbits on Australian soil was when in October 1859 the English immigrant Thomas Austin received a load of domestic and wild animals, which he was to use for his entertainment, and hunted them on his property in the surroundings. from Melbourne.
The shipment left England with 12 rabbits, and arrived in Australia with 24, indicating that they had already been reared within the 80 days of travel. Today, the territory deals with what is considered a pest – a population of 200 million European rabbits, native to the Iberian Peninsula and southern France, destroying crops and harming indigenous Australian species.
In 1865, Austin himself told a Geelong Advertiser that he had killed 20,000 rabbits on his property, as a statement about the “extraordinary fecundity of the English rabbit.” Within 50 years, rabbits will spread across the continent at a spread rate of more than 100 kilometers per year.
Despite the fencing, the introduction of the myxoma virus (which is fatal to these animals) and other measures, rabbits remain one of the main invasive species in Australia, according to the paper. daily Mail.
“Our findings show that despite numerous introductions to Australia, it was a single group of English rabbits that caused this devastating biological invasion, the effects of which are still being felt today,” study senior author Joel Alves told the British newspaper.
“This serves as a reminder that the actions of just one person, or a few people, can have a devastating environmental impact.”
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