The fauna of Australia consists of a huge variety of animals; some 83% of mammals, 89% of reptiles, 24% of fish and insects and 93% of amphibians that inhabit the continent are endemic to Australia (ecological state of a species being unique to a defined geographic location)! Australians are very proud of their local fauna, two of the most famous ones being present even of the country’s coat of arms.
A unique feature of Australia’s fauna is the relative scarcity of native placental mammals. Consequently, the marsupials — a group of mammals that raise their young in a pouch, including the kangaroos and koalas, occupy many of the ecological niches placental animals occupy elsewhere in the world.
The settlement of Europeans from 1788 has significantly affected the fauna, through hunting and introduction of non-native species, leading to numerous species extinction! An invasive species is a plant, fungus, or animal species that is not native to a specific location (an introduced species), and which has a tendency to spread to a degree believed to cause damage to the environment. Introduced organisms affect the environment in a number of ways. Rabbits render land economically useless by eating everything. Red foxes affect local endemic fauna by predation while the cane toad poisons the predators by being eaten.
Costly, laborious and time-consuming efforts at control of these species has met with little success and this continues to be a major problem area in the conservation of Australia’s biodiversity.