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Threatened Species

What are threatened species, and why are they important? 

The decline in Australia’s biodiversity has been the fastest of any country over the past 200 years, which is partly represented by several extensive threatened species lists. Threatened species are those species at risk of extinction. Decline in species population or extinction can affect entire ecosystems through changes in ecosystem functions such as pollination and seed dispersal, or through changes in predation or competition. 

There are several formal listings of threatened species for Cape York, from global to state level, including the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 list and Queensland’s Nature Conservation Act (NCA) 1992 list

Threatened species on Cape York

In 2012, Cape York NRM started an analysis of available location data for threatened species on Cape York. The purpose of this analysis was to improve understanding of the distribution of data and threatened species to improve the strategic direction of conservation efforts on Cape York. By July 2015, preliminary results showed that there are 327 species listed on state (NCA), national (EPBC) and international (IUCN Red List) lists. Of these, there are about 54 could be classed as a 'priority' based on their status on these lists. 

While Cape York has a great number of native species, including migratory, rare and endemic species, many of these are on the threatened species lists. For instance, there are over 100 species recorded on Cape York that are on the NCA list as near threatened, vulnerable or endangered. Cape York also has a regional list of 53 priority species, identified through the Back on Track species prioritisation framework.


Species are threatened by an array of pressures, including inappropriate fire regimes, disease, over­ grazing, pest animals, weeds, loss of habitat, pollution, degradation of habitat and climate change. These affect the extent of populations and number of individuals. As the risk of extinction becomes greater, species are nominated for assessment under state or federal laws, and eventually find their way on to the threatened species lists.

Conservation on Cape York

An effective way to conserve species is through conservation actions across landscapes, such as clusters of properties, protected areas and nature refuges. Actions include monitoring, awareness raising, reducing threats and establishing new populations. Bringing species back from the brink can be achieved with good planning, making the right decisions, and coordinating across the habitat of these precious species.

On Cape York, conservation efforts are done through many organisations and land holders, including:

More information about threatened species on Cape York can be found in the reference section.