Australian government declares Bramble Cay melomys rodent extinct

A rodent known as the Bramble Cay melomys has been officially declared extinct by the Australian Government, with climate change caused by humans reported as the cause.

The creature only lived on the small Australian sand island of Torres Strait, between the coast of Queensland and Papua New Guinea.

The Australian Government’s determination comes after scientists for the Queensland Government and University of Queensland said in 2016 that the Bramble Cay melomys was the first mammal to go extinct due to human-induced climate change.

Bramble Cay melomys (Ian Bell, EHP)

Torres Strait is only 340 metres long and 150 metres wide, and has suffered from more frequent and intense weather events that led to extremely high water levels.

Amid a list of endangered species released by the government, the Bramble Cay melomys was moved into the extinct category. The document also spelled out bad news for the spectacled flying-fox bat, whose population has halved in the past decade.

“The listing of species is critical in coordinating recovery efforts across all States and Territories and builds on the 425 million dollar (£233 million) the government has invested in protecting and preserving Australia’s most threatened species since coming to office,” said Melissa Price, the country’s minister for the environment.

The Wilderness Society, an Australian environmental advocacy organisation, accused the Environment Minister of burying the official acknowledgement of the creature’s extinction in the fine print.

“If we do not acknowledge the full extent of the environmental crisis we are facing, then there is no way that our actions will be sufficient to deal with it,” said Tim Beshara, federal policy director for the non-profit organisation.

“The Bramble Cay melomys was a little brown rat. But it was our little brown rat and it was our responsibility to make sure it persisted. We failed.

“It was the only endemic mammal of the Great Barrier Reef and scientists have directly attributed its passing to climate change. Sea level rise and increased storm surges first removed the species’s food supplies and then ultimately washed the last vestiges of the population into the ocean.”

The Bramble Cay melomys was last spotted in 2009.

- Press Association

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