Extinction of ‘rat kangaroo’ feared

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SYDNEY — A truffle-eating Australian marsupial known as the rat kangaroo has suffered a dramatic population decline and could become extinct without urgent action to save the species, a report warned Thursday.

The World Wildlife Fund said only two populations of the northern bettong remained in the wet coastal tropics of northern Queensland state, numbering at most 2,500 individuals, down 70 percent in the past 30 years.

The northern bettong is one of the main animals which eat truffles, dispersing truffle spores across its habitat and maintaining a delicate ecological balance.

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