Melbourne: According to the Australian government, a small brown rat which lived on a tiny island off northern Australia is the world’s first mammal known to have become extinct due to “human-induced climate change.”
The mammal, Bramble Cay melomys, which had not been seen for almost 10 years was initially pronounced extinct after “exhaustive” conservation efforts failed, a report by the University of Queensland in 2016 stated.
That finding was confirmed by the Australian government on Monday.
According to the 2016 report, the cause of its extinction was from rising sea levels over the past decade which led to major habitat loss.
Notably, the Bramble Cay melomys inhabited a small coral island on the Great Barrier Reef, measuring about five hectares (12 acres) and located in the Torres Strait, between Queensland state and Papua New Guinea.
Speaking to the members of the Senate, Geoff Richardson, assistant secretary for environment and energy, said that it’s not a decision to take lightly adding, “When something is listed as extinct it essentially ceases to get any protection.”
While several hundred of the rodents occupied the island in the 1970s, their population rapidly declined thereafter and by 1992, the population had dropped so sharply that the Queensland state government classified the species as endangered.
Critics of Australia’s conservation efforts say the extinction of the melomys highlights the lack of resources for preserving wildlife.
Greens party senator Janet Rice said that the melomys’ extinction is “an absolute tragedy,” adding, “Labor and Liberal’s addiction to coal is the death warrant for many of our other threatened animals.”
Notably, Rice is chairing a senate inquiry into the country’s extinction crisis.