Native animals in the South Australian Murray-Darling Basin

The Murray-Darling Basin region is home to a large number of different native animals (fauna). Of these, there are many endangered animal species: 35 species of birds, 16 species of mammals and over 35 fish species. Unfortunately, 20 species of mammals have already become extinct.

Why is fauna important?

Native animals are important for many reasons:

  • as indicators of healthy ecosystems, waterways and habitats – for example frogs in wetlands
  • native animals play important roles in ecosystems such as; keeping some animals from becoming too numerous (predators), managing vegetation growth (herbivores) or providing food, and recycling organic matter (decomposers)
  • the variety of native animals and the ecosystems in which they live contribute to the quality of life we have
  • each year, thousands of tourists visit the region to see our native plants and animals
  • the vast majority of locals enjoy seeing wildlife and value their presence in our landscapes
  • we like to know there is wildlife near us, and this knowledge helps us to realise that there is more to our world than what we own and control, and that there are many reasons to conserve and protect the natural world
  • some native animals even have economic benefits such as Kangaroos, Emus, Yabbies and native fish, and many more are as yet unknown.

Why manage fauna?

“If wild animals live free and wild, why do we have to manage them? Why don’t we leave them alone?”

We need to manage native animals because nearly everything we do affects them. We share their landscapes and ecosystems, including the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the places we live in and the places we visit. The world human population is expanding rapidly, placing great demands on our environment and its resources, including wild animals and their habitats. If we did not manage native animals, we risk more becoming endangered and extinct.

Threats to fauna

  • habitat loss is the single biggest threat to native animals both locally and globally
  • habitat fragmentation makes it difficult for animals to move from one patch to another
  • habitat alteration such as the loss of understorey shrubs, logs, food plants, old trees with hollows
  • feral animals which are competitors, predators and poisoners to native animals
  • barriers to movement within and between areas of habitat
  • hunting of native animals
  • road-kill can cause local extinction in some regions and is a constant welfare problem
  • disruptive human activities such as unsustainable tourism, recreational activities and industrial practices in important areas of habitat.

Fauna we are working to protect

Long-nosed fur seal

Name: Long-nosed fur seal
Scientific name: Arctocephalus forsteri
Regional status: Least concern
Related links:


Mallee emu-wren

Name: Mallee emu-wren
Scientific name: Stipiturus mallee
Regional status: Vulnerable
Related links:


Malleefowl (Nganamara)

Name: Malleefowl (Nganamara)
Scientific name: Leipoa ocellata
Regional status: Vulnerable
Related links:


Murray cod

Name: Murray cod
Scientific name: Maccullochella peelii
Regional status: Under threat
Related links:


Murray hardy head

Name: Murray hardy head
Scientific name: Craterocephalus fluviatilis
Regional status: Under threat
Related links:


Murray-Darling carpet python

Name: Murray-Darling carpet python
Scientific name: Morelia spilota
Regional status: Rare
Related links:


Purple spotted gudgeon

Name: Purple spotted gudgeon
Scientific name: Mogurnda clivicola
Regional status: Under threat
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Regent parrot

Name: Regent parrot
Scientific name: Polytelis anthopoplus monarchoides
Regional status: Under threat
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Southern bell frog

Name: Southern bell frog
Scientific name: Litoria raniformis
Regional status: Under threat
Related links:


Southern hairy-nosed wombat

Name: Southern hairy-nosed wombat
Scientific name: Lasiorhinus latifrons
Regional status: Under threat
Related links:


Southern pygmy perch

Name: Southern pygmy perch
Scientific name: Nannoperca australis
Regional status: Under threat
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Striated grasswren

Name: Striated grasswren
Scientific name: Amytornis striatus striatus
Regional status: Vulnerable
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Wedge tailed eagle

Name: Wedge tailed eagle
Scientific name: Aquila audax
Regional status: Under threat
Related links:


Western whipbird

Name: Western whipbird
Scientific name: Psophodes nigrogularis leucogaster
Regional status: Vulnerable
Related links:


Helping fauna recover

Southern Eastern BushBids
Southern Mallee BushBids
River Bend BushBids 
Eastern Mount Lofty BushBids 
Woodland BushBids
Environmental Stewardship 
Mallee Birds
Ground dwelling birds



Related links

More information

  • Natural Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin
    08 8532 9100