Did you know: First recorded Australian Mammal Extinct Due to Climate Change 🎥
Updated: Nov 4, 2019
Melomys rubicola or Bramble Cay Melomys - a small brown rat - lived and bred for generations over thousands of years on a sandy bank in the Torres Strait known as Bramble Cay, a tiny island off northern Australia. It is believed that between 2009 and 2014 the last of this species died; most likely drowned in a storm surge causing sea water to rise unusually high due to anthropogenic climate change.
In an ABC article from February 2019 the author states (see link under ‘reference’, we highly recommend reading):
“Unlike koalas or whales, the small rodent was never cute enough to rate much of a conservation effort. It’s only with its extinction - noted for the first time by the Federal Government, in a press release from Environment Minister Melissa Price - that it’s attracted interest from beyond the circle of biologists and conservationists that warned of its demise. This was probably the first recorded mammal species-loss because of human-induced climate change, according to the Queensland Government, which reported on the extinction in 2016.”
Description of the extinct animal: The Bramble Cay melomys was one of the mosaic-tailed rats (distinguished by the mosaic pattern of scales on its tail rather than the concentric rows of scales running along the length of the tail found in most other types of rats and mice). It was larger than the three other Australian species of melomys and about the size of a small rat (head and body length: 148-165 mm; tail length: 145-185 mm). Also distinguishing it from other Australian melomys was that its tail was obviously lumpy, with each scale on the tail being bulbous. It had reddish-brown fur with a paler underbelly, relatively small ears and a long tail with a prehensile tip. (https://environment.des.qld.gov.au/wildlife/threatened-species/endangered/endangered-animals/bramble_cay_melomys.html)
Critics of Australia’s conservation efforts say the extinction of the melomys highlights the lack of resources for preserving wildlife. "Bramble Cay melomys' extinction is an absolute tragedy," said Senator Janet Rice, who is chairing a senate inquiry into the country's extinction crisis.
"Labor and Liberal's addiction to coal is the death warrant for many of our other threatened animals," she said, referring to the mining policies of the major political parties.
In the same press release that confirmed the melomys’ extinction, Australia’s Minister for the Environment also announced that the spectacled flying fox would now be listed as an endangered species - up from vulnerable - after a 2018 heat wave in Queensland cut its number by one third, according to ‘The Guardian’.
The fact is, that Australia along with New Zealand and South America, is most at risk for losing its biodiversity due to climate change with Governments relentlessly ignoring the scientific facts and the absence of drastic actions to reduce emissions. If global greenhouse emissions are not reduced and global temperatures continue to increase, almost eight percent of species could go extinct by mid century, according to a 2015 (!) University of Connecticut study.
Australia has had the worst decline in biodiversity of any continent over the last 200 years. In 2016 Australia was in the top five worldwide for species extinctions and top 10 in the world threatened species. The major threats to Australian species include habitat destruction, mainly land clearing for developments, invasive species, climate change, pollution and the illegal wildlife trade.
According to the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List of endangered species, Australia counts 86 animal species considered “critically endangered”. A species is considered “critically endangered” by the IUCN if it meets certain criteria, such as a reduction in the population of 90 per cent within a decade, the population range is severely limited or fragmented, or the population is under 50 individuals.
For a comprehensive list of Australia’s endangered species we refer to Australian Geographic website link in the ‘reference’.
With an abundance of rhetoric, but manifestly inadequate lack of an integrated, effective federal program, both sides of politics in Australia have failed the flora and fauna of this Great Southern Land. Most of all, they have failed future generations.
Stand aside political establishment! It’s time for the youth to take over: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/live/2019/mar/15/climate-strikes-2019-live-latest-climate-change-global-warming
🎥 (1:16) “Down To Earth”, published 21 Feb 2019
This is the first animal that has become extinct because of human-induced climate change. The little brown rodent is called the Bramble Cay Melomys and is a former inhabitant of Australia.
For further reading regarding ‘Deforestation in Australia’ we recommend our blog from January 2018:
Australia is home to some of the most unique and magnificent flora and fauna in the world. Our country has vast savannas and grasslands, tropical rainforests, eucalypt forests and diverse woodlands that provide shelter to our most precious threatened species.
ABC Triple J Hack, Feb 2019 by Author James Purtill (viewed 17.03.2019)
Australian Geographic, 2019 (viewed 17.03.2019)
EcoWatch, Feb 2019 (viewed 17.03.2019)
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, 2019 (viewed 17.03.2019)
www.extincitionsymbol.info (Extinction hazard - flickr.com)
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