Questions Raised by Quolls: Fatherhood and Conservation in an Uncertain World by Harry Saddler

‘Australia has the highest extinction rate in the world.’

I found this book a fascinating meditation on the consequences of habitat destruction. I have seen quolls, but only in wildlife sanctuaries and zoos in Tasmania. I know that there are Eastern Quolls at the Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary, which I have visited occasionally, but I have not yet seen them. But reading this book also reminds me of some of the introduced species I do see regularly, including foxes and rabbits in the Snowy Mountains.

I am reminded, too, of the footage of the last (captive) thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger) who died in 1936. I walked past the site of the Beaumaris Zoo last time I was in Tasmania. I have since read that the last thylacine, named Benjamin, was in fact a female.

In this book, Mr Saddler reflects on the impact of human activity on our environment, on the species lost or critically endangered, on the efforts being made by some to save others. He reflects also on the responsibility of choosing whether to have children. The impact of the way we live has significant impacts on the natural world: the destruction of forests, the introduction of other species, the pollution of the environment.

This book made me stop, to think about the world in which I live and the world in which I would like future generations to live. It is too late for the thylacines, but we can still save the Tasmanian Devils and the quolls.  At least I hope so.

‘The Australian landscape will never be what it was. Too many species have been killed, each one significant in its own way to the overall environment.’

Jennifer Cameron-Smith


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