It was during a trip to Central Australia that Tanya Plibersek realized she had to declare war on feral cats.
It was there that she discovered the mala, a small wallaby on the verge of extinction.
The entire population of these super cute marsupials, measuring just 30cm tall and weighing no more than two kilograms, was wiped out by cats in the 1990s.
Mala, who figures heavily in the dreams of the Walpiri people, must be kept in enclosures to have any chance of survival.
The day after her visit to the shrine, Ms. Plibersek witnessed “a huge cat walking around in the grass at the foot of Uluṟu.”
“The mala wouldn’t have stood a chance,” she said. “They are raised in a wildlife-proof enclosure in the hope of one day being able to repopulate the desert.”
On Thursday, the Environment Minister announced a “battle plan” to combat cats which kill two billion reptiles, birds and mammals in Australia each year.
It was there that she discovered the mala, a small wallaby on the verge of extinction. The entire population of these super cute marsupials, measuring just 30cm tall and weighing no more than two kilograms, was wiped out by cats in the 1990s.
She visited a mala enclosure, where staff are working tirelessly to increase the population in a safe environment after the species was locally wiped out in the wild.
Tanya Plibersek declared war on feral cats in attempt to protect Australia’s native wildlife
Pictured: Australian Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek takes a look at a Felixer cat trap
It is estimated that feral cats kill six million animals every night.
“If we want to give the mala, bilby and brush-tailed pari a chance of surviving in the wild, we need to control their biggest killer: feral cats,” Ms Plibersek said.
Ms Plibersek said feral cats were destroying Australia’s native wildlife and driving several species to the brink of extinction.
As part of her ambitious plan, she hopes to prevent any further extinction of wild cats.
“When domestic cats live in our homes, curled up at the foot of our beds, we rightly love them. But feral cats are the opposite of adorable. They are ruthless killers who walk, stalk,” she said.
“We are declaring war on wild cats. We are developing our battle plan to win this war.
As part of her ambitious plan, she hopes to prevent any further future extinctions due to feral cats.
She said cats killed two billion reptiles, birds and mammals in Australia every year, which equates to around six million every night.
Ms Plibersek said feral cats are destroying our native wildlife and driving species to the brink of extinction.
The minister outlined a plan to introduce legislation and step up research to help control feral cats, including expanding the use of cat traps and expanding cat-free island shelters.
“If we don’t act now, our native animals don’t stand a chance,” she said.
Ms Plibersek noted that wild cats “played a role in Australia’s last two extinctions” and helped propel Australia to the unwanted title of “mammal extinction capital of the world”.
The government will invest $4 million in eradicating feral cats from Christmas Island and a further $2.273 million in the French island.
A further $400,000 will be used to develop feral cat baits in northern Australia that remain safe for native animals.
Cat owners could also be banned from leaving their pets outside under new rules being considered by the federal government.
Local governments could back these rules with heavy fines and could also restrict cat ownership; either to a low number per household, or entirely to those who break the rules or live near conservation areas.
Ms Plibersek said that the next day she saw “a huge cat wandering in the grass at the foot of Uluṟu”.
An opposing photo shows dozens of mice, lizards and other small reptiles extracted from the cat’s stomach, all barely digested.
In 2018, researchers studying the impact of wild cats on our wildlife opened the stomach of a recently deceased cat to discover dozens of mammals, lizards and even snakes, all eaten in the last 24 hours of the life of the animal.
An opposing photo shows dozens of mice, lizards and other small reptiles removed from the cat’s stomach, all barely digested, after it feasted in central South Australia.
John Woinarski, a researcher at the Threatened Species Recovery Hub, told Daily Mail Australia at the time that it was not uncommon to find up to 40 lizards in a cat’s stomach at any given time.
Public consultation on government paper ends on December 11.