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Australian endangered species

Analysis and Comment (64)

Gump, who died in May, was the last known member of her species. Gump, who died in May, was the last known member of her species. Director of National Parks/Supplied

Vale ‘Gump’, the last known Christmas Island Forest Skink

Among the most haunting and evocative images of Australian wildlife are the black and white photographs of the last Thylacine, languishing alone in Hobart Zoo. It’s an extraordinary reminder of how close…
Could Australia’s new threatened species commissioner be the break Tasmania’s endangered devils need? Could Australia’s new threatened species commissioner be the break Tasmania’s endangered devils need? jomilo75/Flickr

Threatened species win a voice in Canberra – but it’s too late for some

Australia’s threatened animals and plants may have received a small win today — the announcement of Australia’s first threatened species commissioner by Environment Minister Greg Hunt in Melbourne. The…
Quolls have been hit hard by the introduction of cane toads, foxes, cats and other big changes over the past 200 years – but if we act fast, we may be able to save them. Quolls have been hit hard by the introduction of cane toads, foxes, cats and other big changes over the past 200 years – but if we act fast, we may be able to save them. Bronwyn Fancourt

Quolls are in danger of going the way of Tasmanian tigers

With sharp teeth and an attitude to match, quolls are some of Australia’s most impressive hunters. Ranging from around 300g to 5kg, these spectacularly spotted marsupials do an out-sized job of controlling…
A greater stick-nest rat ready to be released - with radio collar attached. A greater stick-nest rat ready to be released - with radio collar attached. Arid Recovery

From the frontline: saving Australia’s threatened mammals

Almost a third of Australia’s mammals have become extinct or are facing extinction, largely thanks to introduced predators such as cats and foxes. But what is the best way to save the species still alive…
What’s the best way to give Australia’s mammals a helping hand? What’s the best way to give Australia’s mammals a helping hand? Northern Australia Hub, National Environmental Research Program

To save Australia’s mammals we need a change of heart

Twenty-nine Australian land mammals have become extinct over the last 200 years, and 56 are currently facing extinction. These losses and potential losses represent over a third of the 315 species present…
Caught: a female swift parrot emerging from her tree-hollow nest. Caught: a female swift parrot emerging from her tree-hollow nest. Dejan Stojanovic

Sugar gliders are eating swift parrots – but what’s to blame?

Swift parrots are one of Australia’s most endangered birds, but until very recently we didn’t know why. New research shows that they’re being eaten by sugar gliders at their breeding grounds in Tasmania…
The Largetooth Sawfish is one of the world’s largest fishes, growing to more than 6 metres. The Largetooth Sawfish is one of the world’s largest fishes, growing to more than 6 metres. Miguel Clavero

Australian endangered species: Largetooth Sawfish

Sharks and rays are some of the world’s most threatened animals, with a quarter of all species at risk of extinction. Among the sharks and rays, sawfish are some of the most threatened, with all five species…
About as big as they get: a female Golden Galaxias. About as big as they get: a female Golden Galaxias. Scott Hardie

Australian endangered species: Tasmanian galaxiids

While the rivers of northern Australia and the Murray-Darling Basin are renowned for their iconic, large-sized, fish species such as Murray Cod and Barramundi, the temperate inland waterways of Tasmania…
The Holy Grail of myrmecology: the Dinosaur Ant. The Holy Grail of myrmecology: the Dinosaur Ant. Ajay Narendra

Australian endangered species: Dinosaur Ant

The Dinosaur Ant (Nothomyrmecia macrops) is so-called because it is a “living fossil”. It is arguably one of the closest living examples of what some of the earliest true ants might have been like, both…
Like many island animals, the Kangaroo Island Dunnart is critically endangered. Like many island animals, the Kangaroo Island Dunnart is critically endangered. Jody Gates

Australian endangered species: Kangaroo Island Dunnart

Island fauna are particularly vulnerable to new threats. Not only do they have a very limited population size and distribution to begin with, they can display extreme naïveté to new predators, due to a…
Vesk’s Plant-louse lives only on a single species of wattle. Vesk’s Plant-louse lives only on a single species of wattle. Melinda Moir

Australian endangered species: Vesk’s Plant-louse

Vesk’s Plant-louse (Acizzia veski) was discovered in 2007 within the Stirling Range National Park, a biodiversity hotspot of southwestern Australia. It is not a true “louse” but is a species of Hemiptera…
Somehow the Orange-bellied Parrot is always getting into trouble. Somehow the Orange-bellied Parrot is always getting into trouble. Fatih Sam

Australian endangered species: Orange-bellied Parrot

If you had to ask an average Australian the name of a threatened bird in this country, many would nominate the Orange-bellied Parrot. Critically endangered, and with fewer than 50 left in the wild, it…
The paradise of Lord Howe Island has a grim history of biodiversity loss. The paradise of Lord Howe Island has a grim history of biodiversity loss. Roberta W B

Australian endangered species: Lord Howe Long-eared Bat

Some threatened species are familiar and well-known; others are obscure. The Lord Howe Long-eared Bat may be the epitome of obscure. Were it not for the fluke discovery of a singe tiny but distinctive…
What’s threatening the Mallacoota burrowing crayfish? Point the finger at grazing, forestry, and fishing. What’s threatening the Mallacoota burrowing crayfish? Point the finger at grazing, forestry, and fishing. Jason Coughran

Australian endangered species: Victorian burrowing crayfish

Burrowing crayfish are a particular challenge to survey and to conserve because they live underground, and their ability to disperse is extremely limited. Sometimes this means that impacts on their habitat…
Woylie have decline by up to 95% since 2001. Why is a mystery. Woylie have decline by up to 95% since 2001. Why is a mystery. Flickr/Arthur Chapman

Australian endangered species: Woylie

The introduced red fox (Vulpes vulpes) has had a devastating impact of Australia’s native mammal fauna, particularly on those in the “Critical Weight Range”, between 35 and 5500 grams. Combined with landscape…
This tiny tinker frog is lives in the gullies of Queensland rainforests. This tiny tinker frog is lives in the gullies of Queensland rainforests. Flickr/Smithsonian's National Zoo

Australian endangered species: Tinker frogs

South-west of the port of Gladstone in Queensland lies Kroombit Tops National Park, housing many plants and animals, some of them unique. The reserve includes steep escarpments with wet, rainforest gullies…
The Lesser Stick-nest Rat is poorly known, and definitely didn’t climb around in trees. The Lesser Stick-nest Rat is poorly known, and definitely didn’t climb around in trees. Wikimedia Commons

Australian endangered species: Lesser Stick-nest Rat

Australia has the world’s worst mammalian extinction records. Since 1788, 21 species have gone extinct in Australia and its territories. This includes 10 rodents, mostly from the arid interior. As with…
Mammals are disappearing across northern Australia; the Capentarian Rock-rat is one of them. Mammals are disappearing across northern Australia; the Capentarian Rock-rat is one of them. Damien Stanioch

Australian endangered species: Carpentarian Rock-rat

Mammals are disappearing in Australia’s Top End, and we’re not really sure why. This is particularly concerning as northern Australia has a human population density of one person per ten square kilometres…
There is only one Christmas Island Forest Skink left on Earth. There is only one Christmas Island Forest Skink left on Earth. Hal Cogger

Australian endangered species: Christmas Island Forest Skink

Gump has lived a cossetted life, nurtured in a cage on Christmas Island. Until last year, she had two acquaintances, but misadventure claimed them both. Now there is only Gump. She’s the last known individual…
Leckie’s Crayfish is found in a tiny mountain stream in northern New South Wales. Leckie’s Crayfish is found in a tiny mountain stream in northern New South Wales. Jason Coughran

Australian endangered species: Leckie’s Crayfish

Australia has about 135 species of freshwater crayfish - and we’re still describing more. Case in point are the Cherax group of crayfish, which includes the critically endangered Hairy Marron from Western…
Fun fact: geckos don’t have eyelids, so they have to lick clean their eyes. Fun fact: geckos don’t have eyelids, so they have to lick clean their eyes. UQ Media & Conrad Hoskin

Australian endangered species: Gulbaru Gecko

You may not have heard of the Gulbaru Gecko but you’d love it if you met it. Ancient and spectacular, this endangered gecko has one of the smallest distributions of any Australian animal. Australia is…
Our threatened species, like this young Leadbeater’s Possum, need some attention. Our threatened species, like this young Leadbeater’s Possum, need some attention. Flickr/Greens MPs

Let’s put threatened species on the election agenda

The Coalition will instate a Commissioner for Threatened Species should it form government, according to shadow environment minister Greg Hunt. The minister says that, while management plans for threatened…
Don’t be fooled, this little guy will grow to be the largest turtle in the world. Don’t be fooled, this little guy will grow to be the largest turtle in the world. Flickr/Jennie - My Travels

Australian endangered species: Leatherback Turtle

Note: since publishing the Leatherback Turtle has been removed from the critically endangered list. It is now considered to be vulnerable. Leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) are the largest, oldest…
Catch of the day: a Harrisson’s Dogfish caught for field work in Bass Strait. Catch of the day: a Harrisson’s Dogfish caught for field work in Bass Strait. David Maynard

Australian endangered species: Harrisson’s Dogfish

Note: since publishing Harrison’s Dogfish has been removed from the critically endangered list. It is now considered to be endangered. Harrisson’s Dogfish (Centrophorus harrissoni) is a small shark that…
A female Hawksbill turtle nesting in northern Australia. A female Hawksbill turtle nesting in northern Australia. Scott Whiting

Australian endangered species: Hawksbill Turtle

The Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) is one of the seven species of marine turtles and one of six in the family Cheloniidae. It is easily distinguished from other turtle species by its beak-like…
There are fewer than 50 Southern Corroboree Frogs in the wild. There are fewer than 50 Southern Corroboree Frogs in the wild. Michael McFadden

Australian endangered species: Southern Corroboree Frog

High up in the sub-alpine bogs of the Snowy Mountains lives one of Australia’s most iconic and rarest creatures, the Southern Corroboree Frog (Pseudophryne corroboree). This small, vividly-coloured species…
The Central Rock-rat appears to have disappeared. Why? The Central Rock-rat appears to have disappeared. Why? DLRM, NT Government

Australian endangered species: Central Rock-rat

Australia’s small arid zone mammals have greatly suffered since European settlement. Some 11 species are extinct, and a further eight are listed as endangered or critically endangered. Their loss has been…
Each Spotted Handfish has its own unique spot pattern. Each Spotted Handfish has its own unique spot pattern. Tess Moriarty

Australian endangered species: Spotted Handfish

The Spotted Handfish (Brachionichthys hirsutus) is a small fish that lives on the sea bed in the cool, sheltered waters of south-east Tasmania. It has modified pelvic fins that look like “hands”, hence…
Why does the Scottsdale Burrowing Crayfish have a spiny tail? Why does the Scottsdale Burrowing Crayfish have a spiny tail? Niall Doran

Australian endangered species: Tasmanian burrowing crayfish

Although few people get the chance to meet one, burrowing crayfish rarely fail to catch the imagination. The idea of a little lobster living in a subterranean labyrinth is strange enough to give burrowing…
The metallic-coloured Schayer’s Grasshopper from Tasmania. The metallic-coloured Schayer’s Grasshopper from Tasmania. David Rentz

Australian endangered species: Schayer’s Grasshopper

There are some 700 known species of grasshopper in Australia. But, fewer than half have been described. This is creating an information gap, and some species have fallen in. Schayer’s Grasshopper (Schayera…
It’s hard being a tiny snail in a Great Lake. It’s hard being a tiny snail in a Great Lake. Karen Richards

Australian endangered species: Tasmanian snails and limpets

While you’re worrying about pygmy-possums and hairy-nosed wombats spare a thought for some of Australia’s least known endangered species. Freshwater molluscs - snails, slugs and mussels - are in trouble…
The tiny White-bellied Frog lives in the swamps of south-west Australia. The tiny White-bellied Frog lives in the swamps of south-west Australia. Perth Zoo

Australian endangered species: White-bellied Frog

The White-bellied Frog (Geocrinia alba) is a tiny frog from south-west Western Australia, inhabiting a range of 130km2 between Margaret River and Augusta. It was only discovered in the early 1980s and…
A fire coral and friends, Millepora intricata in a lagoon on the Great Barrier Reef. A fire coral and friends, Millepora intricata in a lagoon on the Great Barrier Reef. Mike Emslie and Daniela Ceccarelli

Australian endangered species: Fire corals

The fire coral (Millepora boschmai) is one of the rarest species of coral in the world. It is known only from a small number of locations in the Pacific Ocean, Panama and Indonesia, and it appears this…
Male gobies are like peacocks. This is the Edgbaston Goby. Male gobies are like peacocks. This is the Edgbaston Goby. Adam Kereszy

Australian endangered species: Desert gobies

Gobies are one of the largest and most widespread fish families in the world, but even so, the presence of endemic species in the Great Artesian Basin spring complexes of central Australia is a little…
An Armoured Mistfrog blending into a rock. An Armoured Mistfrog blending into a rock. Robert Puschendorf

Australian endangered species: Torrent frogs

Torrent frogs are an interesting group of frogs found in the rainforests of north-east Australia. There are four species in the group: the Mountain Mistfrog (Litoria nyakalensis), the Armoured Mistfrog…
If you’re a family or a business, you’ll get a look-in on Budget night. But what if you’re a Western Swamp Turtle? If you’re a family or a business, you’ll get a look-in on Budget night. But what if you’re a Western Swamp Turtle? Sascha Grant

On budget night, humans will trump other species, again

Last year the Australian governments (federal and state) spent AU$6.23 billion on the budget line “climate change and environment”. This probably seems a reasonable amount to most taxpayers, compared to…
The Christmas Island Shrew has been recorded four times since its discovery. The Christmas Island Shrew has been recorded four times since its discovery. Max Orchard

Australian endangered species: Christmas Island Shrew

It may be that there are no more shrews in Australia. There was only ever one representative, edging into the Australian political estate on the remote Christmas Island, closer to Java than any other part…
Caught on camera: a rare remote image of a wombat coming out its burrow in the evening. Caught on camera: a rare remote image of a wombat coming out its burrow in the evening. Qld Dept. of Environment and Heritage Protection.

Australian endangered species: Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat

Bringing a species back from the brink of extinction is never easy. Typically, it takes long-term commitment, amounting to lifetimes of hard work by dedicated scientists, managers and supporters. That…
The Mountain Pygmy-possum is clinging to existence in its alpine refuges. The Mountain Pygmy-possum is clinging to existence in its alpine refuges. Hayley Bates

Australian endangered species: Mountain Pygmy-possum

The Mountain Pygmy-possum (Burramys parvus) is one of five living species of pygmy-possum, all of which are classified within a single family. It is the largest of the pygmy-possums, and can be easily…
A shark in the hand: this Northern River Shark has been tagged in the attempt to collect more information on the species. A shark in the hand: this Northern River Shark has been tagged in the attempt to collect more information on the species. Jeff Whitty

Australian endangered species: Northern River Shark

The Northern River Shark (Glyphis garricki) is one of the rarest species of shark in the world. It is known only from a small number of locations in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Papua…
This female Territory Imitator probably shouldn’t be on the IUCN’s Red List. But very little is known about this obscure group of insects. This female Territory Imitator probably shouldn’t be on the IUCN’s Red List. But very little is known about this obscure group of insects. David Rentz

Australian endangered species: Katydids

Consider the katydids. Katydids are related to grasshoppers and crickets. They are generally long-legged, have long antennae and are nocturnal. The majority are herbivores but some are carnivorous. Several…
The Hairy Marron is so called for the tufts of crayfish hair all over its body. The Hairy Marron is so called for the tufts of crayfish hair all over its body. Craig Lawrence

Australian endangered species: Hairy Marron

Marron are a large, iconic freshwater crayfish endemic to the southwest of Australia. Most Western Australians have been “marroning” in their youth. The tail meat is a delicacy prized by recreational and…
A tiny male Red-finned Blue-eye, half the size of your little finger. A tiny male Red-finned Blue-eye, half the size of your little finger. Adam Kereszy

Australian endangered species: Red-finned Blue-eye

The Red-finned Blue-eye (Scaturiginichthys vermeilipinnis) grows to a maximum of three centimetres long. As males reach adulthood they develop the vivid colouration suggested by their common name. In contrast…
A juvenile Christmas Island Frigatebird in Jakarta. The species' international fishing trips make it difficult to develop conservation strategies. A juvenile Christmas Island Frigatebird in Jakarta. The species' international fishing trips make it difficult to develop conservation strategies. Shah Jahan

Australian endangered species: Christmas Island Frigatebird

The Christmas Island Frigatebird is a spectacular large seabird. It is one of only five frigatebird species, all with glossy black plumage, long narrow wings, buoyant and acrobatic flight, and long bill…
The Murray cod is popular amongst fishers, and also critically endangered - at least according to the IUCN. The Murray cod is popular amongst fishers, and also critically endangered - at least according to the IUCN. Flickr/guochai

Australian endangered species: Murray Cod

The Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii) is the largest native Australian freshwater fish species, and is probably the most iconic. The species’ credentials are impressive: it can live for more than 50 years…
The Retro Slider - the best-named reptile in Australia? The Retro Slider - the best-named reptile in Australia? Eric Vanderduys

Australian endangered species: Retro Slider

When asked to name an Australian lizard, most Australians would probably pick the familiar blue-tongue, stumpy lizard or bearded dragon, or perhaps the iconic thorny devil, frill-neck lizard or a goanna…
The Cataract Gorge in Launceston, Tasmania, once home to the Tasmanian Torrent Midge. The Cataract Gorge in Launceston, Tasmania, once home to the Tasmanian Torrent Midge. Flickr/Simon Lieschke

Australian endangered species: Tasmanian Torrent Midge

Torrent midges, as their name suggests, make their homes in the fastest-flowing parts of rivers and streams. Their larvae have evolved remarkable and unique adaptations, including suckers on their underside…
Since 1998 sea snakes have vanished from reefs in Western Australia. This Leaf-scaled sea snake may already be extinct. Since 1998 sea snakes have vanished from reefs in Western Australia. This Leaf-scaled sea snake may already be extinct. Hal Cogger

Australian endangered species: Sea snakes

Short-nosed (Aipysurus apraefrontalis) and Leaf-scaled (A. foliosquama) sea snakes are restricted to coral reefs in Western Australia. Both species are known from Ashmore and Hibernia Reefs, while the…
Gilbert’s Potoroo: rediscovered in 1994 after nearly 100 years. Gilbert’s Potoroo: rediscovered in 1994 after nearly 100 years. Dick Walker

Australian endangered species: Gilbert’s Potoroo

Gilbert’s Potoroo (Potorous gilbertii) is one of four species of potoroo. It has dense grey-brown fur, paler on the underside, with furry jowls, large eyes and an almost hairless tail. It is the smallest…
The Denison Rain Crayfish is more closely related to crayfish in Madagascar than to other Australian species. Alastair Richardson. The Denison Rain Crayfish is more closely related to crayfish in Madagascar than to other Australian species. Alastair Richardson.

Australian endangered species: Rain Crayfish

The buttongrass plains, swamps and heathy slopes of western Tasmania support a suite of burrowing crayfish species in the endemic genera Ombrastacoides and Spinastacoides. These nutrient-poor, acid peatlands…
The Western Swamp Tortoise was rediscovered in the 1950s. The Western Swamp Tortoise was rediscovered in the 1950s. Nicola Mitchell

Australian endangered species: Western Swamp Tortoise

The Western Swamp Tortoise (Pseudemydura umbrina) is Australia’s rarest reptile. Originally it was known only from a single specimen collected in 1839 from an unknown location in Western Australia. No…
A breeding colony of Lord Howe Island Stick Insects was founded at Melbourne Zoo. A breeding colony of Lord Howe Island Stick Insects was founded at Melbourne Zoo. AAP

Australian endangered species: Lord Howe Island stick insect

The Lord Howe Island stick insect (Dryococelus australis) or “land lobster” is a large, flightless stick insect that was, until recently, thought to be extinct. It has a glossy brownish-black exoskeleton…
Only 3-8% of the original number of Southern Bluefin Tuna still exist. Only 3-8% of the original number of Southern Bluefin Tuna still exist. AAP

Australian endangered species: Southern Bluefin Tuna

Note: Southern Bluefin Tuna is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN, but only as conservation dependent under Australian legislation. Southern Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus maccoyii) are majestic, temperate…
The Beautiful Nursery Frog is found only on Thornton Peak in northeast Queensland. The Beautiful Nursery Frog is found only on Thornton Peak in northeast Queensland. Steve Williams

Australian endangered species: Beautiful Nursery Frog

The Beautiful Nursery Frog (Cophixalus concinnus) is a tiny ground-living frog from the family Microhylidae - from the Greek words “micros”, meaning small, and “hyla”, meaning forest or woods. The species…
An early dry season fire in Kakadu National Park – are these fires burning up our mammals? An early dry season fire in Kakadu National Park – are these fires burning up our mammals? Clay Trauernicht

Scientists and national park managers are failing northern Australia’s vanishing mammals

Conservationists should take heart that Australia is finally waking up to the biodiversity crisis in Australia’s north. It is an urgent problem: right now, a diverse assortment of our small mammals – bandicoots…
Euastacus dharawalus is the most critical of the spiny crayfish group. Euastacus dharawalus is the most critical of the spiny crayfish group. Jason Coughran

Australian endangered species: Spiny Crayfish

You may be familiar with some of Australia’s more iconic spiny crayfish, such as the giant Murray River crayfish, Euastacus armatus, but there is an untold diversity within this endemic Australian genus…
The male Regent Honeyeater is larger and brighter than the female. The male Regent Honeyeater is larger and brighter than the female. Dean Ingwersen

Australian endangered species: Regent Honeyeater

The Regent Honeyeater (Anthochaera phrygia) is a spectacular, black, white and gold, medium-sized honeyeater. It has a bare, corrugated pale face, giving rise to its earlier name of Warty-faced Honeyeater…
We need to change the moral system that lets us off the hook for species extinction. We need to change the moral system that lets us off the hook for species extinction. Kelly Garbato

Threatened species: we’re failing on morality and policy

Extinction is a diminution of the natural legacy that we have inherited. It is a breach of the duty we have for inter-generational equity – that we should pass to our descendants a world as rich, intact…
Lists of endangered species don’t match up - why is that? Lists of endangered species don’t match up - why is that? dano/Flickr

Endangered species: what makes the list?

In 1999, Robert Hill’s Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act (EPBC Act) was enacted. One of its hard-fought provisions was that threatened species (and ecological communities) had to be considered…
National parks' role as a refuge from direct human intervention will only become more important in future. National parks' role as a refuge from direct human intervention will only become more important in future. dracopylla/Flickr

Biodiversity crisis demands bolder thinking than bagging national parks

Tim Flannery’s recent Quarterly Essay, After the Future, questions whether Australian national parks will become “marsupial ghost towns” despite the tens of millions of dollars governments spend on them…
Without help, parks like Kakadu could become marsupial ghost towns. Without help, parks like Kakadu could become marsupial ghost towns. Territory Expeditions

The future for biodiversity conservation isn’t more national parks

Today we begin a series on Australia’s endangered species and how best to conserve them. The series will run each Thursday, and begins with this excerpt from Tim Flannery’s Quarterly Essay, After the Future…
It’s not surprising Australians want to protect endangered species like the numbat. It is surprising that governments won’t listen. It’s not surprising Australians want to protect endangered species like the numbat. It is surprising that governments won’t listen. dilettantiquity/flickr

Saving Australian endangered species - a policy gap and political opportunity

Tim Flannery, in his Quarterly Essay After the Future, is right to deplore the sudden abrogation of responsibility for threatened species by state and federal governments. The tragedy is that neglecting…

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