Feral Animals and the Australian Soundscape – 1’42”

A Chiming Wedgebill sings by the pictured sign at a native wildlife sanctuary.

The British weren’t the only ones to colonise Australia in 1788. Since then introduced predatory species such as cats, foxes, and dogs have decimated Australia’s population of native wildlife. Meanwhile pigs, camels, rabbits, goats and other introduced species have become feral and now compete with native animals for food, damaging their fragile habitat in the process.

Consequently over the last 200 years Australia has witnessed the largest decline in biodiversity in the world. 103 mammals have become extinct, and 1,167 species are listed as threatened.

How then does the soundscape of 21st century Australia differ from the pre-colonial period: which sounds have been lost, which have been introduced? By becoming more sensitive to the sounds around us might we take stronger action to protect the regions in which we live? What can field recordists do to help raise this environmental sensitivity?

In this era of climate change and habitat destruction it would be reassuring to think that field recording had a potential role in reversing the crisis.

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