The mongoose in Australia: failed introduction of a biological control agent

We reviewed historical literature and obtained nearly 200 records of the mongoose in Australia up to 1942. Although the earliest importations (from 1855) were for its snake-killing prowess, often as entertainment, its perceived potential as a control agent for the European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) plague saw concerted introductions made in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, primarily in 1883 and 1884. At least 1000 mongoose were released to control rabbits at 14 reported release locations in these states. As many as 700 of these mongoose were reported released in one New South Wales rabbit-control trial. These numbers indicate that insufficient propagule pressure does not explain why Australia escaped the additional devastation of an established mongoose population. The only reason stated for the failure of the mongoose releases to control rabbits is destruction of the mongoose by rabbit trappers, both inadvertently and in seeking to protect their employment. Unfavourable climate was implicated by CLIMATCH modelling in the failure of all releases, especially those into semiarid areas such as western New South Wales. No contemporary detail could be located of the reported 1884 failed introduction of ‘numbers’ of mongoose into North Queensland to control rats in sugarcane plantations.

Secondary title Australian Journal of Zoology
Author David Peacock and Ian Abbott
Date 13/10/2010
Year 2010
Volume 58
Number 4
Pages 205-227
ISBN/ISSN doi:10.1071/ZO10043
Control method Biological Control
Region Australia - national