Debbie Lustig recently forwarded a link to youtube about an 'extinction
emergency', Leadbeater's Possum and an election campaign. Actually, I think it
was only about an election campaign. I like Leadbeater's Possum and I
understand that it is very endangered, and I am concerned for its plight.
However, I cringe to the bone when people bring out the word 'extinction' to
protect something that is not on the verge of extinction. Threatened and/or
declining are not the same thing as 'going extinct'. In 2005 my research showed
that the Christmas Island Pipistrelle (a tiny insectivorous bat) was about to
go extinct (imminently and actually extinct, not just facing growing threats).
When I reported this to the bureaucrats in the federal environment department
they chose to do nothing. Their attitude was that they had heard the extinction
card so many times before and they didn't believe it. The boy who cried wolf.
Well, in 2009 the CI pipistrelle was the
first extinction of a vertebrate in Australia for decades, pretty much as my
research had predicted a few years earlier. My research on CI also predicted
the extinction of 4 lizard species, none of which now survive in the wild. Our
government did nothing to save them either, until after the so-called 'wakeup
call' of the pipistrelle's extinction.
The moral of this story is, don't announce that Leadbeater's Possum is facing
an extinction emergency if it is not. Because that numbs decision makers to the
concept of extinction and HAS ALREADY contributed to the extinction of at
least 3 Australian animals in the last 5 years.
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