Hunters and poachers have begun trawling scientific journals and academic papers to learn the locations of endangered species in Australia and abroad.
Biology professor David Lindenmayer from the Australian National University (ANU) told nine.com.au that the locations of rare Australian species like the night parrot needed to be kept a secret to prevent poachers and amateur wildlife enthusiasts contributing to their dwindling numbers.
“The reason why we have tried to keep the location of the night parrot a secret in academic journals is to prevent poaching in the wild and there is a strong interest in this bird. So the last thing you want to do is reveal its specific location,” Prof Lindenmayer said.
“We know it is found in remote inland Australia but the specific locations have been mostly kept a secret.”
A plan to repopulate the Corroboree frogs was hindered after people destroyed their habitats to catch a glimpse of the elusive amphibians. (AAP)
The ANU professor criticised the release of the elusive Australian bird’s call, which he said could be used by poachers to coax the night parrot out of hiding.
“This night parrot is the most important discovery in the bird world in the last 150 years and we can’t afford to lose it.”
Prof Lindenmayer said there was no doubt that academic reports and peer-reviewed papers were being used for nefarious purposes.
“Illegal wildlife trade is big business and we already know of some species that have disappeared within weeks of having been described (in academic journals),” he said.
“The (Chinese cave geckoes) appear only in specific places like these beautiful limestone cliffs and mountains in China. But we know species like this have been poached to almost local extinction within three of four weeks after having been described.
“An animal has to be formally described in scientific literary papers for it to be recognised as a new species so the only way for people to know about its location is through these peer-reviewed articles.”
The ANU biologist said other species like the critically endangered Corroboree frogs found in the ACT have been placed in jeopardy after their habitat location was published following a conservation breeding program.
“This frog’s population has been crashing because of disease and the government has spent a lot of money to breed them in special enclosures and then release them into the wild in the ACT,” Prof Lindenmayer said.
“After their release into these bogs, those areas were later dug up so that they could be seen and photographed, which essentially butchered their habitat making it impossible for them to live.”
Prof Lindenmayer has renewed a call to academics to omit the specifics of where a species calls home in future peer-reviewed articles to ensure their survival.
© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2017
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