Rabbit plague plaguing Australia

The problem was caused by Thomas Austin, an English settler, in 1859. He imported two dozen wild rabbits from England to Australia. He released them for sport hunting on his farm in Victoria. He could not have imagined what he started. That is why there is now a plague of rabbits plaguing Australia.

In just three months the rabbits had spread over two thousand kilometers. Austin recorded his own statistics in his diary. Seven years after releasing the rabbits he shot a total of 14,253.

The rabbit plague ravaging Australia was caused by human intervention.
The rabbit plague ravaging Australia was caused by human intervention.

Immediate overpopulation

The rabbits had no natural predators there. That is why they multiplied rapidly. One of the first measures was to import a natural predator: the red fox. The problem was that they preferred to hunt koala. To the point that they almost made them extinct.

In 1900 the authorities went a step further. They erected a 1,700-kilometer fence. They hoped to prevent the passage of rabbits to the western part of the island. The method failed.

By the 1920s there were already about 10 billion wild rabbits.

Three decades later they decided to import a disease that was killing South American rabbits. It was myxomatosis, an infectious disease. In 1950 this virus was successfully tested. Millions of rabbits succumbed. But over time, they developed immunity. As a result, the population rebounded.

Even today, the plague is not controlled.
Even today, the plague is still not controlled.

New lethal viruses

In 1995 researchers on Wardang Island (Australia) experimented with a new virus. They spread a hemorrhagic disease, a microorganism that decimated the Australian wild rabbit population by up to 60%. It is a virus as contagious as human influenza and as lethal as Ebola. In 2017 the government used a new variant. It is a virus carrying a hemorrhagic pathogen discovered in South Korea.

Regardless, the plague is not under control. The rabbit plague plaguing Australia continues to be a problem. In some areas of Australia there are drastic laws about it. For example, on the prohibition of keeping or selling rabbits. It is considered a criminal practice punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of $44,000.

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