Wildlife Disease Curricula in Australian Universities

  • E. P. Finnie


Australia is a vast arid country of low population with an economy based mainly on agriculture. The southeast of the continent is the most suitable for agriculture and the most pleasant area in which to live.

The veterinary faculties, of which there are currently three, teach courses biased towards the agricultural animals. In the past, courses on wildlife disease were minimal Presently this situation is improving and it is hoped that in the future some Australian Veterinary Facultys will include departments of wildlife medicine.


Secondary Industry South Pacific Ocean Wildlife Disease East Australian Current Indonesian Archipelago 
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Australien ist ein grosser, trockener Kontinent mit einer kleinen Bevölkerung, und einer Ökonomie, die zur Hauptsache auf Landwirtschaft beruht. Der sud-ostliche Teil Australiens eignet sich besonders zur landwirtschaftlichen Bearbeitung, und es ist auch hier wo es fur Menschen wohnlich am angenehmsten ist.

Die veterinär-medizinischen Fakultäten, von denen es gegenwärtig drei in Australien gibt, beschränken ihr Vorlesungen und Kurse zur Hauptsache auf landwirtschaftliche Tiere. Bisher waren Kurse fiber Wildtierkrankheiten sehr wenig vertreten, jedoch bemtiht man sich gegenwärtig diese ungtnstige Lage zu verbessern. Man hofft, dass in der nahen Zukunft regelrechte Abteilungen für Wildtier-Veterinärmedizin den Australischen Veterinär-midizinischen Fakultäten angeschlossen werden.

Australia is a vast empty continent with an area only slightly smaller than the contiguous states of the U.S.A. and a population of approximately 15 million people. It may be considered to be the largest island, or the smallest continent. The western shores are bathed by the cold northerly flowing West Australian Current of the Indian Ocean, and the eastern shores by the warm southerly flowing West Australian Current of the South Pacific Ocean. The Southern Ocean stretches to Antarctica while the seas to the north are bounded by New Guinea and the Indonesian Archipelago.

These surrounding oceans and seas with their currents, and the relatively flat topography of Australia are responsible for the climatic conditions, and hence the wildlife and human population distribution of the continent.

The mountain range along the eastern coast ensures that the warm moist air produced by the East Australian Current penetrates no more than a hundred miles inland, whilst the cool dry air associated with the cold West Australian Current ensures that almost all of the rest of the continent is dry. In exception the northern tip of Australia receives heavy seasonal monsoon rains. Hence the south eastern corner is the most suitable climatically for agriculture and secondary industries.

Australia’s isolation from other continents gave rise to its relatively late colonisation by Caucasians, yet recent archaeological findings indicate that Australians, 35–40,000 years ago were amongst the most socially advanced people in the world at that time. These aborigines were able to achieve a balance between their own requirements and the requirements of the harsh arid environment such that they remained almost unchanged until the arrival of Caucasion colonies in 1788.

Current estimates indicate that the Australian continent is able to support a non-food exporting population of 60 million people, or if the country continues to export agricultural products at the present rate, a population of no more than 20 million people.

Australia’s geographical isolation from other continents has enabled its unique marsupial and monotreme wildlife to evolve to its present complexity with relatively few eutherian mammals to compete for ecological niches. These eutherian competitors consist of rodents (rats and mice), chiroptera, pinnipeds, and a canid, (the dingo, introduced with early man). Since the arrival of Caucasions however, this situation has changed dramatically, with many species of highly competitive eutherian mammals being introduced.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. P. Finnie
    • 1
  1. 1.Taronga ZooMosman, SydneyAustralia

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