Unit 7 – Reading

Read the text and complete the exercise.

Rabbit Plague in Australia

Balance in nature is very fragile. Even very small changes in nature can cause great problems. The story of rabbits in Australia is a good example of this.

Originally, there weren’t any rabbits in Australia. European settlers first brought them there in 1788. They kept them for food. Half a century later, more and more people started to breed rabbits and they became more common. But they didn’t present a problem for the environment because they lived in cages.

In October 1859 everything changed when a man called Thomas Austin set 24 wild rabbits free. Austin’s favourite hobby was hunting. He wanted to create a population of rabbits in Australia so that he could hunt them. He asked a relative in England to send him some grey rabbits. When he released them, he didn’t think there would be any problems. After that many other people also released their rabbits into the wild.

The conditions in Australia were very different from those in England: the winters were mild and there were no foxes or other natural enemies. This was ideal for a population explosion. Ten years later, two million rabbits could be shot every year and it didn’t really affect the overall population.

The ecology of Australia has changed a lot because of rabbits. Many animal species have disappeared because rabbits eat all their food. They also cause a lot of damage to farmers, because they eat too much grass on the pastures, so there isn’t enough food for sheep. They also eat everything that farmers grow in the fields.

People have tried to control the rabbit population in different ways. They have shot them, destroyed their holes and built a rabbit-proof fence, which is more than 3000 km long, in Western Australia. They have even introduced a virus. It killed about 500 million rabbits. The population of rabbits that survived recovered and soon increased again. Even today, Australians are still trying to control the rabbit population.

Glossary: rabbit plague – zajčja kuga, species – vrsta (živalska ali rastlinska), damage – škoda, release – spustiti na svobodo.

Choose a, b or c to complete the sentences.

  1. There are _____ rabbits in Australia

a. not enough

b. just enough

c. too many

  1. They first brought rabbits to Australia

a. to keep them as pets

b. for food

c. for hunting

  1. Thomas Austin was _____ who released rabbits.

a. the first person

b. the last person

c. the only person

  1. Rabbits cause damage because they _____.

a. eat the food in the houses

b. eat the food in the fields

c. attack other animals

  1. They have tried to shoot many rabbits to _____.

a. use them for food

b. sell them

c. make sure there aren’t so many

  1. The virus _____.

a. killed many sheep

b. killed many rabbits

c. killed all the rabbits

  1. Rabbits _____ in the pastures.

a. bite the sheep

b. play with the sheep

c. eat all the grass

  1. People _____.

a. still have problems with rabbits

b. solved the problem with rabbits in the 18th century

c. solved the problem with rabbits last year


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