Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Very Sad

Bat Conservation International

Photo courtesy of Lindy Lumsden
“We don’t know precisely what happened to it, … but there is one important thing we do know: it was the last Christmas Island pipistrelle (pipistrellus murrayi).”   
   ~Timothy Flannery, The Sydney Morning Herald, November 17, 2012 August 26, 2009. That was the last time this small bat’s echolocation call was heard. That lonely call was, quite possibly, “one of the few times that an extinction of species in the wild can be marked to the day,” says the IUCN.
It did not have to happen. The once-abundant species, named after the island it inhabited, began declining in the mid-1990s. By 2006, the population had fallen by more than 80 percent. Scientists raised an alarm with the Australian government, and the Australian Mammal Society and the Australasian Bat Society were confident the species could be saved at a relatively low cost. But the response was tentative and leadership was lacking. A government committee was formed, but it deliberated for months. When scientists were finally given permission to start a captive-breeding program, it was too late. The little insect-eating bat, which weighed less than a U.S. nickel, had disappeared from the Earth.
This “lack of brave decision making in the face of uncertainty, and … lack of accountability for stalling decisions contributed to the loss of the [Christmas Island] pipstrelle,” says Dr. Tara Martin of Australia’s national science agency.
This tragic lesson shows us the importance of bat conservation across the globe. During this season of sharing, you can help by spreading the word about the Christmas Island pipistrelle. Knowledge is power and by sharing this story with your friends and family, you can remind those around you just how fragile and precious our planet really is.

Dave Waldien, Ph.D.
Dave Waldien
Interim Executive Director
Bat Conservation International
Bat Conservation International P.O. Box 162603 Austin, TX 78716
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