TOWNSVILLE, Australia, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Researchers said the re-introduction of the dingo -- Australia's leading natural predator -- could improve the survival rate of species it often attacks.
James Cook University researchers, in a news release, said the disappearance of several marsupial species -- such as the Eastern hare-wallaby and the lesser bilby -- could be traced to the eradication of the dingo, the university said.
Biologists had blamed other factors for the animals' extinction, including the introduction of rabbits and diseases, sheep farming and the way people use fire to clear land.
"Where there are no dingoes, introduced predators are rife, and up to 65 percent of ground-dwelling mammal species have disappeared," said Chris Johnson a researcher at the university in Townsville.
By mapping indigenous animals such as the ground-dwelling marsupials and dingoes, and introduced animals such as foxes and rabbits, researchers showed that wherever dingo populations dropped, prey species became extinct.
Johnson said the next step in his research would be to conduct an experiment to confirm that allowing dingoes to multiply will have the desired effect of reducing numbers of predators and increasing the numbers of marsupials.