In Australia, the suicidal marsupial race escaped the catastrophic fire

In Australia, the suicidal marsupial race escaped the catastrophic fire

It is a rare type of shrub-like marsupial, whose males usually die of depression after a period of “intense” reproduction. Researchers revealed on Monday that he survived the fire that devastated Australia in 2019-2020.

When a wildfire engulfed much of their habitat in Pulpur National Park in eastern Queensland, scientists were worried about the future of this silver-headed anteater, which was officially identified in 2013. The park is one of the three habitats of this species in Australia.

“We saw 21 individuals in burned and unburned habitats. Andrew Baker of Queensland University of Technology explained that while one-third of their habitat was destroyed by fire, Mr Baker feared no such marsupial would survive.

The male silver-headed antechaenus, which feeds primarily on insects and spiders, usually dies before the age of one due to the effects of an intense two-week breeding season. Females rarely live until the third mating period.

In men, high testosterone levels inhibit the stress hormone cortisol. So they are overflowing with cortisol during the breeding season and this can poison them.

Threatened by cats

“Men suffer from internal bleeding, their hair falls out, and sometimes they go blind. Even then, they wander around looking for women to accompany them until they die,” says Baker.

From late May to early June, scientists captured surviving marsupials using sniffer dogs to locate traps or cameras as part of an operation funded by WWF Australia.

However, Mr. Baker fears that the future of the species will be threatened in the long run by climate change, which in particular leads to droughts and frequent fires.

In addition, they are threatened by non-native predators such as cats and animals such as cows, horses and wild boar, which destroy the brush on which they live.

Daniel Grover of WWF Australia, who participated in the study, said it was important to research organisms after a fire. “The silver-headed antichrist was immediately declared a dangerous creature before it caught fire. We can not leave it.”

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