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'Devastating reality check': 12 species added to Aussie extinction list

·News and Video Producer
·3-min read

Twelve animals species have officially been recognised in Australia as extinct.

While the wildlife included on the federal government list are largely historical extinctions, environmentalists warn the news reaffirms Australia as a leader in wildlife loss.

Eleven of the species on the list are mammals, confirming 34 are now recognised as having vanished since white colonialists arrived just over 200 years ago.

The Black Summer bushfires
The Black Summer bushfires are recognised as having a severe impact on Australia's wildlife. Source: Getty

The amendments to the list come amid growing awareness about the plight of Australia's wildlife, as iconic species including koalas and platypus continue to suffer dramatic declines.

The Black Summer bushfires are also known to have increased pressure on already vulnerable species, and climate change, land clearing and introduced predators are also taking a heavy toll.

'Extinction crisis deeper' than previously acknowledged

While there are no surprises in the additions to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation list, environmental group the Wilderness Society argue the government missed an opportunity to publicly highlight the plight of Australia’s vanishing wildlife.

The amendments were made yesterday, on the eve of World Wildlife Day, without a press release or statement from the Environment Minister Sussan Ley. Instead the changes were published on a government website.

Trees that have been cut down.
Habitat loss is contributing to the declining numbers of many native species. Source: Michael Dahlstrom

The Wilderness Society’s Suzanne Milthorpe called news of the extinctions a “devastating reality check on Australia’s environmental performance”.

“This update has shown us that our extinction crisis is deeper than has ever been officially acknowledged by the government and is not just a historical problem, it’s still continuing,” she said.

“By releasing this information in such a narrow and bureaucratic way, it’s a missed opportunity for an environment minister to demonstrate their concern about the crisis and set out a clear plan for how they will fix it.”

List reflects the state of Australia's mammals, government says

The Environment Minister signed off on the listings following an examination of data by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee.

A spokesperson from her department said the task was undertaken to accurately reflect the state of Australia’s mammals.

“Eleven of the twelve mammal species listed have not been seen since before 1950, with some disappearing around the time of European settlement in Australia,” the spokesperson said.

“These extinctions have been acknowledged and discussed in the conservation science community for some time and are now formally recognised as extinct in the national threatened species list.”

A Platypus, which were listed in Victoria as vulnerable to extinction.
Platypus were listed in Victoria as vulnerable to extinction in January. Source: Getty

The most recent extinction was a tiny bat called the Christmas Island Pipistrelle, which was added to the IUCN Red List in 2017, after an assessment in 2012.

Other species confirmed as extinct were the desert bettong, Nullarbor dwarf bettong, Christmas Island forest skink, Capricorn rabbit-rat, broad-cheeked hopping-mouse, marl, south-eastern striped bandicoot, Nullarbor barred bandicoot, Christmas Island pipistrelle, long-eared Mouse, blue-grey mouse and the dusky fruit bat. Another mammal, the Liverpool Plains striped bandicoot was reconfirmed as extinct.

There are currently more than 310 animals and 1180 plants listed at risk of disappearing in Australia.

The government say more than $535 million has been mobilised by since 2014 to help threatened species and threatened ecological communities.

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