The Wet Tropics region of Douglas is home to around 3000 plant species from over 210 families, many of which are only found locally and some of which are threatened.
Twelve out of the world’s 19 families of primitive flowering plants grow within the region, including the cycads, ferns and mosses whose ancestors were amongst the first flowering plants on Earth.
Life in the rainforest means competition for the sun. The iconic Strangler Fig tree (Ficus triradiata) begins as a seed deposited by birds or fruit bats high in the canopy. Their roots reach for the ground, gradually enveloping the host tree until it dies, leaving the grandiose Strangler Fig in its place.
Orchids and Birds Nest Ferns (Asplenium australasicum) spend their lives in the trees, spores and seeds dispersed by wind and animals while climbing plants reach for the light using tendrils to grip their hosts or, like the Wait-a-while or Lawyer Vine (Calamus muelleri), possess fearsome hooks capable of snagging the unwary walker.
The Douglas landscape is also home to the Fan Palm, Ribbonwood Tree, Backscratcher Ginger, Daintree Cheese Tree, Wax Flower and Maple Silkwood among many others.
One third of Australia’s 315 mammals are found in this region, including some of the country’s rarest species.
North Queensland is the only place where the Northern Quoll or Native Cat (Dasyurus hallucatus), at the size of a domestic cat the smallest of the four quoll species, and the Spotted or Tiger Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus gracilis) at over 75cm from nose to tip, co-habit. These marsupial carnivores are opportunistic predators and scavengers who hunt both on the ground and in trees. Populations have greatly declined as a result of land clearing, loss of habitat and the spread of cane toads.
The two species of Australian tree-kangaroos, the Lumholtz’s (Dendrolagus lumholtzi) and the Bennett’s (Dendrolagus bennettianus), are restricted to Wet Tropics areas.
Douglas is also sanctuary for several species of Ringtail Possum, the Antechinus marsupial mouse and the Giant White-tailed Rat (Uromys caudimaculatus) which can reach a body length of 380mm, the Thornton Peak Melomy, the Northern Brown and Long-nosed Bandicoots, the Swamp Wallaby and Red-legged Pademelon, as well as the Echidna and Platypus.
The region is home to a quarter of Australia’s frog population, a little over a third of the country’s freshwater fish and magnificent butterflies; especially the brilliantly metallic blue Ulysses (Papilio ulysses joesa) and the large black and green Cairns Birdwing (Ornithoptera euphorion).
Bird life includes the endangered Southern Cassowary, prolific Brush Turkey and the Orange-footed Scrub-fowl (Megapodius reinwardt).