Threatening processes

Several of the key threatening processes listed under the EPBC Act 1999 are also threats to the western ringtail possum - predation by the European red fox and by feral cats, climate change, competition and land degradation by rabbits and last but definitely not least land clearance. Inappropriate fire regimes and logging are further threatening factors which again lead to loss and fragmentation of habitat.
All those are anthropogenic factors, either directly caused by us or by deliberate introductions of non-native species.

Experience with other endangered species shows that those that withstand these threats can be driven towards extinction if an additional threat – disease – strikes. (e.g. Tasmanian devils, koalas).
Interactions between health, predation, habitat quality and inter-species competition are complex and these threats should not be examined in isolation as in general several threatening processes influence the rate of decline of a species and only simultaneously tackling those multiple threats can achieve recovery of a species.

Some researchers argue that climate change will be the biggest threat to the long-term survival of western ringtail possums. The effects could be profound as the stressors have the potential to limit the available resources (food and shelter) and have a direct effect on the individuals. Thermal extremes and prolonged drought can kill the heat-sensitive animals and diminish and alter their habitat. Stress linked to extreme weather events has been implicated in some disease outbreaks and as a factor in mass mortality events of other species but could also be relevant for our ringtails.

Unfortunately the considerable threat to all wildlife species posed by political failure and wilfulness and the apathy of the population are rarely ever discussed.

Nature is dying a death by a thousand cuts – logging, mining, clearing for agriculture or urban development, complacency towards invasive species, increasing human population – all in the service of our holy grail, perpetual growth.  

Threats to biodiversity are manifestations of what we are doing to our planet.
The main problems today are still broadly the same as those that were discussed in the very first State of the Environment report in 1996. (Jackson, 2017)