Wednesday 11 May 2016

Australia quietly adds 49 species to threatened and endangered lists

Brush-tailed bettong, three-toed snake-tooth skink, swift parrot and types of orchid and albatross listed

Saturday 7 May 201600.00 BSTLast modified on Monday 9 May 201606.04 BST

Nearly 50 new species of flora and fauna have been added without fanfare to the federal government’s list of threatened species, including nine that are critically endangered.

Among the species to be added to the list under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act were the brush-tailed bettong (endangered), the three-toed snake-tooth skink (vulnerable), the swift parrot (upgraded from endangered to critically endangered), and several types of orchid and albatross.

Australian Conservation Foundation campaigner Jess Abrahams said 49 species were added on Thursday without notice from the federal environment minister, Greg Hunt, or his ministry.

“Normally they’ll put out a press release and talk about all the great work they’re doing to turn this around. This time it just slipped out.”

Hunt’s office and the threatened species commissioner, Gregory Andrews, have both been contacted for comment.

Abrahams noted that no new funding had been put towards the existing threatened species strategy in the budget on Tuesday, meaning programs to bring animals such as the Leadbeater’s possum back from the brink of extinction were unable to be delivered.

Most of the species were threatened due to habitat loss, he said – and commercial activities that contributed to this were ongoing, compounding the problem of inadequate funding.“What hope is there? ... The logging continues, the habitat loss continues – it’s no surprise that the species ends up on the threatened species list.”

The ghost bat, a late addition with a vulnerable status, has now joined two other threatened species on the list: the large-eared horseshoe bat (endangered), and Semon’s leaf-nosed bat (also vulnerable).

All live in the Melody Rocks near Cooktown on Cape York Peninsula, which fall under a mining proposal under consideration by the Queensland state government.

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