Translated by Hilary Luk | 中文版
This story begins with Mr Austin, an English hunter, and his 24 rabbits. Austin had arrived in Australia during a time where communication platforms were scarce. Facebook or Twitter did not exist then and there was no platform to launch a hunting group for people to “like”. Austin resorted to have rabbits sent to Australia from England and have them released into the wild. This way, Austin was able to display his hunting talent.
Austin’s “Famous Last Words”
“The introduction of a few rabbits could do little harm and might provide a touch of home, in addition to a spot of hunting.”
Australia was found to be a paradise for rabbits, in addition to Mr. Austin and his fellow hunters. The weather was warm, the soil was rich, the plants were plentiful and lastly, predators were nowhere to be found. These English rabbits had never seen such delicious plants, which were abundant in Australia. Rabbits were well known to be highly reproductive. Very soon, these 24 rabbits became a million troops. These rabbits transformed into Australian zombies, destroying the entire ecosystem, and rapidly spreading across Australia. This led to an extinction of one eighth of native mammals and countless native flora
After the outbreak, Australians devised a plan fit for a zombie attack. They had several attempts from shooting with guns, spraying with poison, butchering their meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, the effect was not noticeable at all. Finally, in 1890, there was a proposal to erect a long fence from North to South in order to preserve the last portion of pure land, which was in the West. However, before the project was completed, the rabbits had already reached this last piece of pure land. Thus, two other fences had to be added to the existing North to South fence.
In 1907, the project was finally completed. It is a difficult job to keep a three thousand kilometer long fence. This is for a number of reasons. One being, some rabbits can hop over or through the fence. In 1920, the number of rabbits reached a record-breaking ten billion. (What? Yes, this figure has been repeatedly verified).
Is There a Solution to this Rabbit Over-Population?The rabbit problem was never solved. Even today, Australians are still tackling the rabbit invasion. However, in 1950, the South American rabbit virus was introduced and it reduced the number by a great 90%. Nevertheless, some rabbits were found to be immune to the virus so, in 1996, a new disease was introduced. The new disease saw very successful results, but it formed a new ecological balance where predators had to face a greatly reduced number of rabbits. Today, Australians still face this dilemma with two to three thousand million rabbits.
(The South American rabbit virus has also been introduced in Europe and it too, greatly reduced the number of rabbits and endangered some predators)
Australians probably fell in love of the idea of fence building, so much that they began building a dingo-proof fence before they even completed the three rabbit-proof fences. This was due to the discovery of the construction workers that the rabbit-proof fences not only stopped rabbits, but also mammals such as dingoes.
The dingo is believed to originate from Thailand or India, and came to Australia three thousand years ago. Due to their aggressive mongrel-like nature, it is estimated that dingoes are the culprits of the Tasmanian Tigers’ extinction.
In order to protect the sheep industry, the Australians decided to erect a longer railing from Queensland to Western Australia. The dingo-proof fence has separated South-Eastern Australia from the rest of the country. Farmers from South-East Australia culled dingoes vigorously. Outside the fence boundary, farmers mainly bred cattle. Fortunately, dingoes seldom eat veal so the two animals were able to co-exist well. The dingo-proof fence was 5400 km long, which is longer than the Great Wall of China. (Like the Great Wall, the dingo-proof fence is not visible from inter-space satellites)
The dingo-proof fence was considered successful, though it was still highly controversial. The number of kangaroos and other animals increased due to the fence. To date, the Australian government has spent ten million dollars per year to maintain the fence’s operation.
In addition to rabbits and dogs, Australia also suffers from an over-population of cats, pigs, foxes and camels. These animals may perceive Australia as heaven but unfortunately, the Europeans who introduced them into the country are actually Australia’s hell-keepers.