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(Photo: Wikicommons) CHRIS BUSHELL REMEMBERS FERRETING for rabbits alongside his three siblings and parents around their home at Dry Creek, near Adelaide. The first reason why they were introduced in Australia was to be a source of food. Unsurprisingly, their presence turned out to be hazardous to the Australian ecosystem. Such a fence was also built in Western Australia between Cape Keraudren and Esperance, in 1907, but the rabbits always found their way round. From England, the ships voyaged out to Rio de Janeiro, then east to Cape Town and to Botany Bay (today in Sydney) through the Great Southern Ocean. Unfortunately, even while construction was underway, rabbits were hopping into regions the fences were intended to protect. In 1887, loses from rabbit damage were so great that the Inter-Colonial Rabbit Commission offered a £25,000 prize “to anyone who could demonstrate a new and effective way of exterminating rabbits.”. And by sheer luck, interbreeding between two distinct types of rabbits introduced by Thomas Austin resulted in a particularly hardy and vigorous variety. Rabbits were introduced into Australia in the $1800 \mathrm{s}$. Rabbits were introduced from two main sources; the domesticated rabbit which provided early settlers with a ready source of meat, and the wild rabbit introduced … Today, the Rabbit Proof fence, now called the State Barrier Fence, stands as a barrier to entry against all invasive species such as dingoes, kangaroos and emus, which damage crops, as well as wild dogs which attack livestock. The European rabbit was brought to Australia as a companion animal by early settlers. In 1887, the situation became so severe that the New South Wales Government offered a reward of £25,000 for “any method of success not previously known in the Colony for the effectual extermination of rabbits.” Over a thousand proposals were submitted, some of which spoke of biological controls, but nothing seemed a good fit. Construction of the fence started that very year, and over the next six years, a 1,824-km-long barrier was erected that stretched from the south coast to the northwest coast, along a line north of Burracoppon, 230 kilometers east of Perth. Today, sections of the fence are maintained by individual landholders and regional councils. Rabbits were introduced to Australia in the 18th century with the First Fleet and soon after that, they spread wide after an outbreak caused by an 1859 release. Also, due to their high breeding power, they were to provide a readily available source of meat in homesteads. Within a number of years, those 24 rabbits multiplied into millions. Wild rabbits were introduced to Australia in the mid to late 1800s at places such as: Canning River (Western Australia) The proliferation of rabbits was the fastest of an introduced mammal anywhere in the world. Europeans had introduced rabbits to Australia at the end of the 18th century, whereupon the fuzzy critters started breeding like, well, y’know. This option sounded feasible as a solution to the rabbit population crisis in Australia. When completed in 1907, it was the longest unbroken fence in the world. Stretching from north to south across Western Australia, dividing the entire continent into two unequal parts, is a flimsy barbed-wire fence that runs for a total length of 3,256 km. When first introduced in 1950, rabbit population dropped from an estimated 600 million to around 100 million. Early introductions of European rabbits into Australia were domestic breeds that were unable to survive in the wild. They were originally introduced in 1840 from British India and Afghanistan for transportation and construction during colonisation. Failed Rabbit Controls in Australia . Eventually, a third fence, Fence No.3, was built running a short distance of 257 km from its junction with No.2 to meet the coast. Today, landowners, including the Crown, are responsible for controlling rabbits on their own lands. But winters in Australia are mild so rabbits could breed all throughout the year. Most often, they were bred as food animals, probably in cages, and not in vast numbers. The feral European rabbit is one of the most widely distributed and abundant mammals in Australia. Quickly enough, it was observed that the animals were developing genetic resistance to the disease, and the surviving rabbits acquired some immunity within the first two decades. European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) were introduced to Australia in the 18th century with the First Fleet and eventually became widespread. Rabbit calicivirus (Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus, or RHDV*) is one of two viruses introduced into Australia to control wild rabbit populations (the other being myxomatosis). Myxomatosis was introduced in the early 1950s as a form of pathogenic control but, unlike Australia, it failed to establish through lack of a suitable spreading organism. © Amusing Planet, 2021. Circa 1926. To contain these rabbits, a second fence designated Fence No.2 was erected a little to the west of Fence No.1. At the time, the man wrote: "The introduction of a few rabbits could do little harm and might provide a touch of home, in addition to a spot of hunting." Wild rabbits devastated crops, and they appeared to be a major threat for species loss across the continent. The second fence runs for 1,166 km from Point Ann on the southern coastline, roughly parallel to Fence No.1, which it joins at Gum Creek. Rabbits became part of a colonist’s diet and farmers kept them trapped together with stone enclosures. Map of the Rabbit-Proof Fences in Western Australia. By the 1840s, rabbit-keeping became very common in Australia, and court records also show frequent cases of rabbit theft. In the 1840s, rabbit-keeping was a common practice among colonists, with bunny rabbit thefts showing up in court records. Though the rabbit population was considered manageable until around 1866, things started to get out of control by the following year. Rabbits Vegetation Damage Many of our native plants and species wont grow or survive if rabbits are present- and ita not just plague numbers that cause damage. Rabbit plagues in Australia have occurred several times throughout parts of Australia since wild European rabbits were introduced by European colonists. Now, it is estimated that approximately 200 million feral rabbits inhabit Australia. 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