The Australian Greens today called on the Government to urgently invest in research to save the pipistrelle microbat, found only on Christmas Island, which is facing imminent extinction.
"It is terrible that things have been allowed to get to this state. The fragile and unique ecosystem that exists on Christmas Island needs to be protected," said Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert.
Numbers of the pipistrelle bat have declined dramatically in recent years, and as a result it was listed as ‘Critically Endangered' under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) in 2006. Long-term monitoring indicates this species has undergone a 99% decline in relative abundance since 1994.
"Protecting Christmas Island should be a priority for Environment Minister Peter Garrett, especially following the decision by the Federal Court in October last year to set aside a decision to stop further mining on the island."
"This is a unique environment. Unfortunately almost every bird, mammal and reptile endemic to Christmas Island is now threatened," said Senator Siewert.
"The direct causes of the pipistrelle's decline are not known, but it is clear that human activity has significantly contributed to demise of the species, and we must see immediate action to alleviate the situation."
The Greens are calling on the Minister to;
- fund an emergency rescue program in the form of a long-term captive breeding program by establishing a purpose-built facility on Christmas Island;
- fund targeted research to determine the cause of the decline so that mitigation actions can be undertaken.
"I urge Minister Garrett to immediately fund conservation projects that will help the pipistrelle bat come back from the brink of extinction, and stop harmful mining operations that could further threaten this and other endangered species," she concluded.
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