Mammal extinction in Australia
A small brown rat which lived on a tiny island off northern Australia is the world’s first mammal known to have become extinct due to “human-induced climate change”.
The Bramble Cay melomys inhabited a small coral island on the Great Barrier Reef, measuring about five hectares (12 acres) and located in the Torres Strait, between Queensland state and Papua New Guinea.
The mammal had not been seen for almost 10 years and was initially pronounced extinct after “exhaustive” conservation efforts failed, according to a report published by the University of Queensland in 2016. That finding was confirmed by the Australian government on 20 th February.
The cause of its extinction was “almost certainly ocean inundation” from rising sea levels over the past decade, which had led to “dramatic habitat loss,” according to the 2016 report.
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 Greens party senator Janet Rice, who is chairing a senate inquiry into the country’s extinction crisis.
If temperatures continue to rise, nearly 8% of all species worldwide could become extinct, a 2015 study by the University of Connecticut found. Australia, New Zealand and South America are considered to be at highest risk.