Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Entry: Rabbits in Australia

I'm cheating a little bit with this entry; usually I post about things I've learned via random browsing, looking up one thing and discovering something completely different of interest, and the occasional link from friends. This time I heard something mentioned in passing on the latest episode of Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles, didn't believe it, and looked it up on Wiki. And am still somewhat surprised.

Now, I knew that Australia had many problems with invasive species, one of them being the European rabbit. And I knew that the Australians had tried to take care of the problem by building a very long fence that helped three little girls find their way home and thwarted Kenneth Brannagh in being a dick.

But what I did not know was that the Australian government resorted to biological warfare. In 1950, wild rabbits were infected with myxomatosis, which causes tumors and allows for secondary bacterial infections. This caused the wild rabbit population to drop from 600 million to 100 million. However, we all know what rabbits do well, and the Australian rabbit population recovered doubled by 1991.

Now, I know that invasive species have a devastating effect on the environment in which they are introduced, but I can't help but feel a bit sorry for the rabbits. I blame my soft-heartedness on having seen the film version of Watership Down when I was a child, and been scarred for life. Although come to think of it, a sequel to WD that takes place in Australia during the 1950s would be neat. Picture it: rabbits in biohazard suits!

...okay, I'll stop now.

No comments: