The Australian rabbit plague began in 1859 with only 24 animals

The Australian rabbit plague began in 1859 with only 24 animals

About fifty years after the first rabbit was imported in 1859, the animals had spread throughout Australia. This appeared in a new research written by the British Guardian newspaper.

In 1788 already five rabbits

It is estimated that rabbits cost Australian farmers approximately $140 million annually because they eat farm crops. In addition, there are far more predators such as foxes and wild cats in areas where rabbits live, putting the native animals of Australia at risk.

It remained unclear for a long time when the first rabbits were imported into Australia, because the animals did not originally live there. New research shows that five rabbits were brought to Sydney in 1788. In the years since, rabbits have been imported from Europe at least 90 times, but they have never led to an increase in the population.

That changed in 1859 with the arrival of 24 rabbits from Baltonsboro in Britain when Thomas Austen at Barron Park in Victoria received the animals from his brother. The researchers say that thousands of rabbits participated after three years.

Also in New Zealand

DNA examination of nearly 200 rabbits from Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, England and France shows that the rabbit invasion that continues to plague Australia today was caused by these 24 animals. Rabbits managed to survive on the east coast of Australia as well as in the desert and were later exported to New Zealand, where they also became endemic.

According to the researchers, the speed with which rabbits spread in 1859 through Australia shows the “importance of strict border controls”. Both Australia and New Zealand have very strict rules when it comes to importing animal or natural products because they can cause major environmental problems on the islands.

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