Endangered Wildlife stamps
This small, short-necked freshwater tortoise, found only in two locations in a small area of the Swan Coastal Plain in Western Australia, is Australia’s most endangered reptile.
Because of its restricted range, this little tortoise is very vulnerable to any changes including land clearing, pesticides, fertilisers and fire. Feral predators like cats, rats and foxes also eat the tortoises and their eggs.
In the mid-1980s, there were fewer than 50 tortoises remaining. Since then, intensive habitat management, captive breeding and translocations guided by a National Recovery Plan developed by the Department of Parks and Wildlife (WA) have increased the number to around 200 in the wild.
Captive breeding began at Perth Zoo in 1988. Since 2003, Adelaide Zoo, in partnership with the Western Swamp Tortoise Recovery Team, has been a part of the captive breeding program to ensure the long-term survival of the species.
Gorilla gorilla gorilla
This large primate is native to the dense, remote rainforests of central Africa. The total population is thought to be up to 100,000 individuals and this number is decreasing. Because of poaching and disease, the gorilla’s numbers have declined by more than 60 per cent in the last 20 to 25 years.
They are illegally hunted for food, as pets (orphaned babies) and for body parts for traditional medicine and magic charms. In addition, the Ebola virus has killed many gorillas. Habitat destruction is another factor contributing to the decreasing population.
Australian zoos participating in international breeding programs to save the Western Lowland Gorilla are Taronga Zoo, Melbourne Zoo, Werribee Zoo and Mogo Zoo.
Panthera uncia syn. Uncia uncia
The beautiful Snow Leopard is native to mountain ranges in central and south Asia at altitudes of 3,000 to 4,500 metres. These cats are very rarely seen and are spread over two million square kilometres across 12 countries.
There are only between 4,000 and 6,500 Snow Leopards left in the wild and this number continues to decline. They are hunted by farmers and also by poachers.
A global breeding program has been established to help save the species. The Australasian region contributes to the International Snow Leopard Trust with animals currently being housed at Melbourne Zoo and three privately owned zoos: National Zoo, (Canberra), and Mogo Zoo and Billabong Koala Wildlife Park, both in NSW.
This small, omnivorous marsupial was once found across northern Australia, from Western Australia to southern Queensland, but is now found in isolated populations in the Pilbara and Kimberley regions of Western Australia and north-west Northern Territory to eastern Queensland.
The poisonous Cane Toad is a major threat. This species was introduced to north-eastern Australia in 1935 and has now spread extensively across the eastern coastline and is penetrating into the arid interior of the continent. When quolls eat Cane Toads they die.
Other current threats are inappropriate fire regimes and feral cats. The Northern Quoll has suffered severe population contraction and decline, but management of existing populations and protection of islands from cane toads and feral cats are helping to protect this iconic species.
The Asian Elephant used to roam over most of Asia, but is now restricted to just 15 percent of its original range. The population has declined by at least 50 percent over the last 60 to 75 years.
The most recent estimate of the global population is 41,430. Asia is the world’s most densely populated continent, and the species’ remaining habitat is shrinking fast. Elephants are killed because they sometimes raid farmers’ fields and damage their crops. They are also killed for their tusks, meat and leather.
Asian Elephants can be found at Melbourne Zoo (9 animals), Perth Zoo (3 animals), Taronga Zoo (4 animals) and Taronga Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo (6 animals).
One of the world’s rarest and most endangered species, this small parrot is on the brink of extinction. The Orange-bellied Parrot is a migratory bird endemic to southern Australia. It breeds only in coastal south-west Tasmania and spends winters in coastal Victoria and South Australia.
The main current threat to the Orange-bellied Parrot is the loss and fragmentation of its habitat. Predators such as cats and foxes also pose a threat. In autumn 2016, fewer than 50 birds were known to be alive in the wild.
There are around 340 birds in captivity in Taroona (Tasmania), Healesville Sanctuary, Adelaide Zoo, Melbourne Zoo, Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park (Victoria) and Priam Parrot Breeding Centre (New South Wales). For the last three seasons, captive-bred birds have been released into the wild to help increase the population.
This small, brightly coloured amphibian is one of the world’s rarest frogs. It lives only in a small area in subalpine Mt Kosciuszko National Park in southern New South Wales. Numbers of this frog have declined more than 99 per cent since the 1980s because of its susceptibility to the chytrid fungus.
Although this frog is close to extinction in the wild, captive breeding colonies are being successfully maintained at the Amphibian Research Centre, Taronga Zoo, Melbourne Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary.
Since 2010, hundreds of captive-bred eggs and frogs have been released back into the wild in Kosciuszko National Park. This program will ensure the Southern Corroboree Frog is being adequately maintained long enough for scientists to develop a cure for the deadly fungus.