Misusing the word extinction is not always wise

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Misusing the word extinction is not always wise
From: David James <>
Date: Sun, 25 Aug 2013 02:13:49 -0700 (PDT)
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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