Cairns’ Most Precious – Endangered Species of the Cairns region | Cairns Tours

Cairns’ Most Precious – Endangered Species of the Cairns region

By James Dixon | 26th August 2015


Cairns is part of the World Heritage Listed Wet Tropics – a lush and ancient landscape of rainforest, rivers, mountains, lakes and beaches. Each unique area has a system of ecological and evolutionary processes, dating back 415 million years and shaped by the flora and fauna of a time when Australia was a part of the Pangaean landmass. An area of superlative natural phenomena, the Wet Tropics are an unparalleled example of biological evolution, where endangered and threatened species can continue to survive.

The vast number of flora and fauna endemic to the area – Including birds, mammals, frogs and reptiles, fish and invertebrates – are globally significant and represent an outstanding example of the Earth’s evolutionary history. Plant seeds dated at more than 320 million years are an unprecedented example of the evolution of terrestrial vegetation, with fauna dating back to the Jurassic period. With further evidence of flora and fauna diversification directly related to the southern supercontinent, Gondwana, which began to disperse approximately 120 million years ago, the rich assemblage of unique Australian species must remain extant within the bosom of the Wet Tropics, where it has the best possible opportunity for survival.

Researchers have developed Recovery Plans to prevent the decline of a species and to aid in its recovery. Plans currently being utilised include protection and conservation for cave dwelling bats, the Southern Cassowary, the Spectacled Flying Fox, the Mabi Forest, the Giant Filmy Fern, the Mahogany Glider, the Spotted Tailed quoll, stream dwelling rainforest frogs, the Northern Bettong and the Magnificent Broodfrog. Loss of habitat – primarily due to fire regimens, changes to water and forest clearing – are significant factors in the rise of vulnerable and threatened species.

It is widely believed that a number of high altitude frogs of the Wet Tropics surrounding Cairns are already extinct, with other high altitude populations only extant at lower levels on the hill slope edges of the city. Those that are rare and endangered include the Common Mist frog, the Waterfall frog, the Australian Lace-lid and the Green-eyed tree frog.

Several species of marine turtle – which have inhabited the oceans for around 150 million years – are also under threat and are listed as endangered. These include the Flatback Turtle, the Leatherback Turtle, the Olive Ridley Turtle, the Green Sea Turtle and the Hawksbill Turtle. Residing at Mission Beach and on the Great Barrier Reef, these ancient creatures often fall victim to plastic bags floating in the waters. The turtles mistake the bags for jellyfish and upon ingesting them, die a slow and painful death, as the plastic twists around their organs.

The gentle Dugong – whose main home is Mission Beach – are at risk of serious injury and death due to the number of high speed boats on the water. While certain areas are off limits to protect the Dugong population, poaching, pollution, disease and coastal land development mean their numbers are dwindling.

Respect for our ancient land, marine mindfulness, preservation of our Heritage Listed sites and a strict adherence to the conservation laws are all that’s required to ensure our precious flora and fauna can continue to thrive. You can help from where you are right now, by taking care to recycle, conserve fossil fuels and not litter!