Presentation on theme: "In our April 12, 2010, issue, you’ll read about Australia’s decade of extreme weather. Climate change doesn’t just affect people—it affects wildlife too."— Presentation transcript:
In our April 12, 2010, issue, you’ll read about Australia’s decade of extreme weather. Climate change doesn’t just affect people—it affects wildlife too. In Australia, that could mean the loss of animals found nowhere else on Earth. Here, meet nine of them.
Native to forests in Australia and on nearby islands, this flightless bird is disappearing in the wild. The female lays eggs, but it is the male’s job to sit on the nest to hatch them. The cassowary has long, strong legs and three-toed feet. It can kill a human with its sharp claws.
This wild member of the dog family may have arrived in Australia with the Aboriginals (the continent’s first inhabitants) about 50,000 years ago. The dingo is known as “the singing dog” for its variety of howls. The dingo feeds on small mammals and rodents caught alive or found as carrion (dead flesh).
This mammal lives only on mainland Australia and the islands of Tasmania and New Guinea. The echidna is toothless. It has a long, sticky tongue that it uses to catch insects to eat, and strong claws to dig burrows for hiding from predators. It is one of only two mammals that lay eggs. (The other is the platypus.) The female lays one egg a year and keeps it inside her body pouch until it hatches.
The kangaroo is a marsupial—a mammal that carries its young in the mother’s body pouch. Kangaroos, especially the young, weaken and often die during periods of drought. It hops on large, powerful hind legs, balanced by a long, muscular tail.
This marsupial spends most of its life in trees—sleeping in them by day and feeding on them at night. Australian law protects the koala, whose natural habitat is disappearing. Koalas don’t need water. They get all the liquids and nutrition they need by eating eucalyptus leaves.
This bird, which is native to the woodlands of Australia and the island of New Guinea, lives and nests in tree holes. The kookaburra eats fish, frogs, and worms, as well as small reptiles, mammals, and birds. Its call, heard early in the morning and after sunset, sounds like wild laughter.
This animal is a scavenger. It feeds mainly on roadkill and other dead animals. This marsupial has wide, strong jaws and sharp teeth. The Tasmanian devil was the inspiration for the Looney Tunes cartoon character named Taz.
Tiger snake venom is among the deadliest on Earth. It kills by paralyzing the victim, then clotting its blood. However, this snake strikes humans only if cornered. This reptile is native to southern and western Australia and nearby islands. It feeds on frogs, birds, and small mammals. The tiger snake is protected by Australian law, which forbids the harming, killing, or exporting of the species.
This marsupial lives in south- eastern Australia and on the island of Tasmania. A nocturnal (active by night) animal, it sleeps by day in a burrow dug with its strong legs and claws. Its numbers are dwindling as drought, land-clearing by humans, and grazing livestock wipe out the grasses, shrubs, and roots it eats.
1. How might Australia’s extreme weather conditions affect its wildlife as well as its people? 2. Should something be done to protect these animals’ natural habitats? Why or why not? 3. How might Australia’s plant and marine life be affected by climate change?