An updated list released by the Australian government has confirmed the extinction of 13 endemic species. Among the species are 12 mammals and one reptile. The news now makes Australia the leading country globally in terms of mammal extinctions. Currently, more than 10% of the 320 land mammals that lived in Australia by 1788 are now extinct.
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The list is led by the recent extinctions of two species from Christmas Island, including the Christmas Island forest skink, the first reptile to go extinct since the European colonization of Australia. The only remaining Christmas Island forest skink died in 2014 and is believed to have been lost due to the introduction of the wolf snake from Asia in the 1970s. The Christmas Island pipistrelle has also been declared extinct; the last of the species died in 2009.
Currently, Australia is ranked No. 1 on the IUCN list for mammal extinctions, followed by Haiti. There is “not another country, rich or poor, that has anything like this record,” Suzanne Milthorpe of The Wilderness Society said.
John Woinarski, conservation biologist at the Charles Darwin University, explained that the extinctions result from a lack of robust measures to protect vulnerable species.
“It is important to acknowledge that the losses have occurred and it’s a reminder that if we don’t manage our threatened species then extinction is the end result,” Woinarski said. “No other country has suffered anywhere near that number of mammal species extinctions over the past 200 years.”
In addition to the two species from Christmas Island, these species have been confirmed extinct: desert bettong, Capricorn rabbit-rat, Nullarbor dwarf bettong, broad-cheeked hopping mouse, the southeastern striped bandicoot, Liverpool Plains striped bandicoot, Nullarbor barred bandicoot, marl, blue-grey mouse, Percy Island flying fox and the long-eared mouse.
The list is a “devastating reality check on Australia’s environmental performance,” Milthorpe said “It cements our reputation as the global leader in mammal extinctions. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen a full response to the review from the Morrison government yet, only a disjointed attempt to devolve their environmental responsibilities to the states.”
Via The Guardian
Image via Lindy Lumsden