Extinction of the Bramble Cay Melomys highlights Australia’s species crisis

In what is a sad reminder of the inadequate protection of Australia’s threatened and endangered species by State and Federal Governments, the extinction of Australia’s rare Bramble Cay melomys was confirmed today in a report from the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and the University of Queensland.

The report points to human-induced climate change as being the root cause of the extinction.

The Bramble Cay melomys (Melomys rubicola), a distinct mosaic-tailed rodent, was one of the most threatened mammals in Australia.

A 2008 study revealed that a population of less than 100 individuals inhabited a small cay in the Torres Strait, an area at risk from inundation, storm surges and other impacts of climate change.

The small population and the unstable nature of Bramble Cay led to the species being listed as ‘Endangered’ under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

WWF-Australia spokesperson Darren Grover said that the melomys’ extinction is a sad reminder of Australia’s extinction crisis and that State and Federal governments must set politics aside and act fast to turn the situation around.

“Australia’s species extinction crisis is not something that occurred hundreds of years ago, it’s happening right now. Australia officially has the worst rate of mammal extinction in the world,” said Mr Grover.

“Unless State Governments and the next Australian Government commit significant amounts of funding towards protecting Australia’s threatened species, we can expect to see more native critters go extinct on our watch.”

In the lead up to the upcoming federal election, WWF is calling on all political parties to dedicate more funding to the implementation of the country’s Threatened Species Strategy which aims to reverse Australia’s species decline.

“This requires $100 million a year over the next five years to protect critical habitats, deliver large-scale threatened species recovery, and reduce feral and invasive animal populations long-term,” said Mr Grover.

“At a minimum this program should lock in improved trajectories for the 20 bird and 20 mammal species identified as in need of critical action within the Threatened Species Strategy, yet swift action is critical.”

Mr Grover said that the loss of the unique and intriguing Bramble Cay melomys, a genetically important component of Australia’s mammalian fauna, would add to Australia’s already embarrassing mammal extinction record.

“Australia promised the world that by 2020, the extinction of the country’s threatened species would be prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, would be improved and sustained,” he said.

“We are obviously not on track to achieve this goal. A dramatic change in funding for the country’s Threatened Species Strategy is needed as part of the upcoming election if we are to safeguard our unique wildlife into the future.”

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Ryan Fritz

Ryan Fritz started The Advocate in 2014 to provide not-for-profits and charities another media platform to tell their worthwhile hard news stories and opinion pieces effortlessly. In 2020, Ryan formed a team of volunteer journalists to help spread even more high-quality stories from the third sector. He also has over 10 years experience as a media and communications professional for not-for-profits and charities.

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