In recognition of National Threatened Species Day, let's learn about some of the threatened species of the Fitzroy region.
Did you know there are over 60 threatened wildlife species found in the Fitzroy River and its catchment?
This includes iconic species such as Purple-crowned Fairy-wren, Gouldian Finch, Peregrine Falcon, Northern Quoll, Freshwater Crocodile, Northern River Shark and Freshwater Sawfish.
Purple-crowned Fairy-wren Malurus coronatus
The Purple-crowned fairy-wren is only found in patchy locations of dense river-fringing trees in northern Australia. Its greatest threat is habitat loss and degradation caused by introduced herbivores, weeds, fire, flooding and mining. The largest Kimberley population lives in the Pandanus lined riverbanks on the upper reaches of the Fitzroy.
Northern Quoll Dasyurus hallucatus
Once common across northern Australia, today the northern quoll is nationally endangered. The main threat to this iconic predator is its consumption of the toxic cane toad, which the quoll mistakes for a native frog and then suffers an unpleasant death. Fortunately, a taste aversion training project aims to prevent the extinction of Kimberley populations by teaching quolls to avoid cane toads. Field trials have been carried out at Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary, which is located in the northern range of the Fitzroy River catchment.
Northern River Shark Glyphis garricki
This is one of the world's rarest and most elusive fishes. The Northern River Shark is most commonly seen in tidal and highly turbid estuaries, such as King Sound, where it was first discovered in 2001. It is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, with habitat degradation likely its primary threat. Ensuring the Fitzroy River and King Sound avoid degradation from damming, mining and water extraction is essential for ensuring the long-term survival and recovery of the world’s few remaining Northern River Shark populations.
Freshwater Sawfish Pristis pristis
The Fitzroy River is the last place on earth where sawfish can be found in true abundance. The young are born in King Sound before migrating upstream to spend their first 4-5 years in refuge pools of the Fitzroy River - some 400 km away from the coast! Emerging proposals for dams and irrigation projects are a major threat to sawfish. Dams and barrages would block the sawfish migration, while water extraction could reduce their available river habitat. Connectivity from King Sound through to upstream reaches of the Fitzroy is essential for allowing the species to complete its unique lifecycle.